Bowdon Youth Festival 2018

As part of its service to the local community, the church supports Bowdon Festival, which offers an annual Youth Festival. Fundraising events such as concerts are held throughout the year to cover the expenses involved.

Applications are now open for Bowdon Youth Festival on 1 – 4 February 2018. This annual event allows young people to experience public performance in a supportive environment, with feedback from expert adjudicators. Classes are offered in music (instruments, voices, ensembles and choirs), speech and drama.

The Youth Festival has a website at where the syllabus of classes available can be found. Online booking and payment facilities are available this year to make life easier for performers, parents and teachers. The deadline to register for classes is December 15, 2017.

We need a large number of volunteers to deliver the Youth Festival – it is very rewarding to be involved and the roles are very varied.

If you are interested, please contact me at

Susan Sinagola, Chair, Bowdon Festival

Living … and dying

I have shared the responsibility for taking funerals across the Parish of Bowdon since 2011. From the first meeting with a bereaved family or individual to occasional visits following the funeral, it is an incalculable privilege, a huge responsibility and a valuable reminder that we are merely here for ‘a time and a season’.

During the funeral preparation period the bereaved are often numb, weary, and barely coping. Nothing may seem real, even when the illness has been lengthy. Grief may be tempered with relief, loss and loneliness are close and life feels ‘on hold’. Patience, careful words and the reassurance that much of what is being experienced is ‘normal’ can ease the anguish as hymns are chosen and tributes decided.

Giving grieving families time to reminisce is very important. I ask how they met, about landmark moments and the quality of the relationship. Young people will speak animatedly about grandparents who have died. Remembering brings tears but also laughter and anecdotes; a picture emerges of the person who I will meet, but never knew, at the crematorium or in church.

Most families will offer their own tribute, poems and readings. Those who contribute never regret it, even when they speak through a steady stream of tears. When children have read their poem about ‘Nan’, those present will often clap!

A funeral is a time to take stock – it’s a wake-up call. For the bereaved who have some Christian understanding, the inevitability of death can raise fundamental questions of eternity and the future. To these questions come enduring answers. Jesus was asked by his disciples how they could follow him to the Kingdom of God. Jesus said ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6).

Copyright John Fenton, Lay Reader

Combining faith and work

I work for the BBC within the Religion and Ethics Radio department and absolutely love my job. I get to combine my faith and my love of Christian music and feel very lucky; most of the time I don’t even feel like I’m working.

I first did work experience with the BBC straight after university, and as I had studied Religion and Theology and have sung in St Mary’s Choir since the age of 8, I soon realised that it was definitely where I wanted to work. Highlights have included working on the Pope’s Hyde Park Vigil, Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge and the enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I am currently producing The Sunday Hour on BBC Radio 2, which is a Christian music show with a range of hymns, gospel and contemporary Christian music presented by the Revd Kate Bottley.

I really enjoy choosing themes and all the music, and working with the presenter to record the show. I can use my theological and musical knowledge to make a programme that shares the Christian faith with people in an accessible way, whether they’re Christian or not. It’s on at 6 am on Sundays, which is pretty early, but do have a listen if you’re up before church, or listen later on iPlayer. It has definitely changed my perception of different expressions of worship and has shown me that it’s possible to combine traditions (I even sneak the odd anthem in when I can!)

Throughout Advent we’re exploring the theme of light and the symbolism surrounding the Advent candles, and will feature an interview with our very own Sasha Johnson Manning about The Manchester Carols. On Christmas Day between 6 and 8 am there will be a two-hour Gospel show and then Kate will present Good Morning Sunday between 8 and 10 am.


Miriam Williamson

The Christmas ‘be-with-ness’ business

Christingle Service 2016

It seems to be one of those basic human instincts: the desire, and even the need, to be with the people we most treasure, especially at the significant moments or episodes of life.

When two people first fall in love, it hardly matters what they do together; it’s the being with each other that’s all-important. The ‘be with’ factor is so strong that they can hardly let go of one another or lose eye contact.

At major birthdays or anniversaries, the nearest and dearest are all invited to come to be with the one celebrating. The party just wouldn’t be a party without them.

I’ve seen it countless times as the end of life approaches; the family strains every muscle to stay in the company of their loved one for every last day, every last hour and minute and second, right up to the point where death prevents them from being with one another any more.

It seems that we’re not alone in our longing to be with others. When Joseph was wrestling with the knowledge that Mary was pregnant, even though they’d had no sexual relations, God showed Joseph that the child to be born would fulfil the ancient prophecy of a child born to a virgin – a child named Jesus.

It seems this urge to be with others is a Godly thing. The claim of the Bible is that Jesus was truly God in person, God present among us, alongside us. Christmas reveals something quite wonderful about God – he has the same longing to be with those whom he loves. Jesus was also called Emmanuel and lived to fully express the meaning of his name: God-with-us.

This edition of Bowdon Church News has details of all our services and celebrations over the Christmas season. We’d be delighted if you would come to be with us to worship Emmanuel.

Ian Rumsey, Vicar

Tower Sleepover

At the end of September six of us decided to sleep at the top of the church tower to raise money for the Hidden Treasure Discovery Centre, an exciting new project for children in Partington. We raised over £1200 for the centre and are so grateful to all those who generously sponsored us. The aim of the centre is to provide a Christian context where children can learn to feel valued, special and as though they have potential. There is still a substantial amount of money to raise so please get in touch with them for more information if you are able.

Contact: Ruth Lancey 07813 520330, or see the website

Catherine Cleghorn, Ordinand

Two decades of serving the community

The Voluntary Transport Group, VTG, was formed in September 1997 and is now celebrating its twentieth birthday.  It was set up to meet the needs of local people with mobility and sight problems who struggled to attend hospital and clinic appointments. Kaye Gardner and her husband John, regular worshippers at St Mary’s, decided to run it from their home in Bowdon with the help of many others. Robert Izod, a retired accountant, gave his services to help run the financial side and a grant of £200 from the Council started the system rolling.  Voluntary drivers, now numbering 45, were recruited from the South Manchester area and within no time the system was up and running.

Over the years, there have been some challenges but lots to celebrate. The service has saved the NHS many thousands of pounds in reduced ambulance use and it has been estimated that VTG drivers have taken some 25,000 clients to appointments.  Kaye was honoured with an MBE in 2015. If you are interested in giving some of your time to help the community please contact her on 0161 929 6996.

David Roberts


Underground is a free social group run by the parish where young people aged 11-18 can come to make new friends, master new skills, learn about God through enjoyable and educational activities, and – most importantly – have fun.

The reason Underground is so popular and not seen as a purely religious group, which might put off some young people, is that it uses examples of God in situations in modern society. We also play entertaining games that have a religious moral; one example is an activity that revolves around teamwork. Activities like these keep people interested and help to build friendships with others. The main priority for the leaders is always what the young people will get out of it, and every time we leave on a Friday night there is always something to take away from it; whether it’s a new friend or a better version of yourself.

Recently, three new leaders from the Message Academy have come to help to run Underground; Nathan, Holly and Michael. They have brought energy and fun and have helped the other leaders to create a welcoming atmosphere both for the people already going to Underground and also for those that want to join. They are great role models for the young people.

Benjamin Fazal, aged 14

For more details, or to join, please contact Jo Oughton 07734 439371 or

We all have a part to play

At 11 am every year on the 11 November this country, joined by countries around the Commonwealth and Europe, falls silent to remember those who have died in war from World War 1 right up to the present day.
This year in particular, the nation has remembered specifically the Battle of Passchendaele.
I don’t know if you watched the coverage of the commemorations or if you have even visited the battlefields themselves, but I was struck afresh at the numbers.
550,000 Allied and German Troops killed at Passchendaele. Many more injured.
550,000. The number of dead would fill up the seats in Old Trafford 7.2 times.
Each number represents someone who had a family and had a whole future ahead of them. They died for the sake of freedom, liberty and justice. When we stop at 11 am, we stop not just to remember the violence and the horrific sacrifices made, but we stop to reflect on the ongoing fight for freedom, justice and peace and to commit ourselves afresh to that cause.
2017 also marks 100 years since the creation of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, the first all-female unit in the British Army. Within one of the darkest hours of the world, when many were forced to experience sacrifice, there is a recognition that everyone, no matter who they were, had a part to play. That is as important today as ever.
We all have a part to play in building a world marked with the values of peace, justice and freedom. A world based on hope. As we stop, I encourage you to ask the question: What is my role in building this world of peace and hope? And as you do, remember the words of Jesus: ‘Love one another as I have loved you’. (John 15:12)
Revd Calum Piper


On Sunday 1 October 2017 seven young people and four adults were confirmed. It was an opportunity that I will never forget!

We had some confirmation classes on the two Mondays and the Saturday before the service, led by Ian our Vicar, Jess, Jo and Catherine. They were fun and we learnt a lot about prayer: when we do it, how we do it and where we do it. Even though I was the only boy it was fine as it was a great way to make friends with the girls.

On the actual day of the service I felt nervous but also excited. I had grandparents, cousins, my auntie, my godfather and lots of friends there to support me. The church had a great atmosphere with families and friends of the other candidates and the full choir. We were lucky to have Bishop Libby, who was the very first female Bishop in the Church of England and who lives locally. She was very supportive and interested in us all.

During the service some of us were interviewed by Jess and Catherine about why we were here.  I explained that I wanted to be confirmed following my trip this year to New Wine, where I really enjoyed all the youth seminars and met a lot of other friends who had a strong faith.

India Lord was baptised and then we were confirmed by the Bishop, which involved her making a cross on each of our heads and giving us all a blessing. The service ended with us having holy communion for the first time. Afterwards there were homemade cakes which went down extremely well. I would like to thank all the team and the Bishop who helped us throughout the classes and the service.

Ben Wood, aged 12

Aiming high


One of the many enjoyable things about being part of the Bowdon community is meeting an endless stream of inspiring people who have achieved, or are in the process of achieving, great things in so many walks of life. Aiming high is intrinsically a part of our community’s DNA, whether in the building of careers, exciting projects, or simply aiming to make a great home.

The Church is in the business of waving the ‘high’ flag from a very different perspective, and when it thinks ‘big picture’, it automatically begins to think very long-term as it seeks to bring heaven and eternity into the frame. Having an eternal perspective offers us the capacity for more perspective, more humility, more comfort and far more inspiration.

CS Lewis once wrote:

“if you read history you’ll find that the Christians who did most for the present world were those who thought most of the next… Aim at heaven, and you’ll get earth thrown in. Aim at earth, and you’ll get neither”.

The apostle Paul thought and wrote similarly:

“We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

In November, the church in Bowdon will be fixing its eyes in two directions, seemingly very different but with everything in common in the context of eternity. Looking back, we will remember those who sacrificed all so that we might live, many very young when they died. Looking forward, we will focus on the young in our midst as we launch the vision of a new future for their development and well-being, and seek to appoint a Pioneer Youth Minister. As we focus on both, we will be aiming high in celebrating and drawing inspiration from the God of ‘yesterday, today and forever’!

Revd Canon Phil Potter