Hilary Gartside takes over as Editor from Catherine Cleghorn

When Katharine Perera died in the autumn of 2016 Catherine Cleghorn kindly agreed to become the Editor of the Bowdon Church News. She has proved to be a very worthy successor to Katharine, maintaining the exceptionally high standard of the BCN which is widely read and so much appreciated by the local community. She has done this demanding job at the same time, amongst many other things, as her ordinand training, and we are deeply indebted to her. The time has now come for Catherine to hand over to someone else as she will be ordained deacon at Chester Cathedral on Sunday July 22nd after which she will become the curate of two parishes in Crewe.

We are delighted that Hilary Gartside has agreed to take on the role of Editor from Catherine. She already plays an important part in the life of our church. A member of the Parochial Church Council, Hilary is a welcomer for Zone2 services, licensed to administer the chalice at Holy Communion and involved with the Go4th worship at the Church School on the fourth Sunday of the month. She also helps with the Coffee Cabin at St Luke’s and the Ladies Continental Breakfast. We pray for her as she takes over from Catherine and trust that she will enjoy being able to spread the good news of the work of our church to the wider community.

Alec Bonson, Churchwarden

Christian Aid Week – generous Bowdon

This year the Christian Aid Week house-to-house collection in Bowdon raised a wonderful total of £6315.  56% of the donations were gift aided and the reclaimed tax will bring our total to £7203.  This reflects great generosity, and is a testament to the hard work of our team of 41 collectors and area organisers who visited almost every home in the parish. There was also generous giving by members of our Bowdon church community who live outside the parish. The focus of this year’s appeal was to help the people of Haiti build homes able to withstand the natural disasters, such as hurricanes, which strike the island with such regularity. By contrast, our collectors benefitted from the excellent May weather this year. The collectors were commissioned in a moving service at the start of Christian Aid Week. The delicious brunch which followed in the Parish Centre and the big breakfast held at St. Luke’s later in the week also proved very successful fund raising events.  Many thanks must go to the catering crews too.

Heartfelt thanks go to all our team of collectors and Area Organisers and, of course, to all our generous givers!  Thank you for giving security and hope to those in need.

Kate Stross – Parish Coordinator

Farewell to Catherine and Ambi

Catherine Cleghorn and Ambi Naylor will be ordained deacon in Chester Cathedral on Sunday 22 July. It will be a day to rejoice with Catherine and Ambi as they step out into the vocation to which God has called them, but for us it will be liberally mixed with sadness at having to say goodbye to two of our friends.

Ambi joined the team at Bowdon in 2015, taking on the task of helping people grow and deepen their faith. For the past two years she pursued ordination studies at Cranmer Hall in Durham. Ambi’s skills in leading worship and her passion for sitting down with people to help them think through their questions around faith, will make her a great addition to the ministry team in the rural parishes of Siddington, Marton and Eaton, just outside Congleton, where she will serve her curacy.

We’ve been very fortunate indeed to have had Catherine working in the Parish for the past three years whilst she trained for ordination on the St Mellitus course out of Liverpool Cathedral. Catherine is a brilliant motivator and organiser. She led Bowdon’s first-ever 24/7 Prayer Room in St Mary’s, a continuous chain of prayer all day and all night for a full week. Many people testify to the gentle way Catherine has helped them take their Christian service to a new and higher level. Equally at home nattering by the bar in the Griffin or singing her heart out in the choir stalls, Catherine stands happily with a foot in both secular and sacred worlds and has a knack of encouraging others to bridge the gap between the two. Likewise, in the many styles of worship available in this Parish, from full volume Choral Evensong to the, let’s say, less-than-predictable Pet Service, to contemplative prayer at the top of the church tower, Catherine delights in as wide a span of worship as possible. She is a walking reminder of the infinite creativity and glorious innovation of the God she worships and follows. Catherine is heading to two parishes in Crewe for her curacy, where, if the blessings that we’ve experienced from Catherine’s ministry are anything to go by, the churches and communities she will serve are in for a treat.

Ian Rumsey, Vicar

Ordination of Jess Piper

On Saturday June 2nd, our lovely Curate, Jess Piper, was ordained priest at Chester Cathedral. Family and friends, parishioners from her previous parish, from husband Calum’s and of course from Bowdon were there in force to support her.

The service was intensely moving. The Gospel reading from St Luke told the story of the miracle of the loaves and the fishes and the theme was carried over into the sermon preached by Revd Catherine Williams, who spoke of the love of Christ and of how we, with our love for Christ, must go out and spread the word. We might think that we are ordinary people in our faith, but the “ordinary” can become quite “extraordinary” when we spread the word of God. To see this we need only look at the lives of the disciples. As the service progressed and the ordinands knelt in prayer, the three bishops connected to the Chester Diocese and Ian and Calum laid their hands on Jess as the Ordination Prayer was said. Our Archdeacon, Ian Bishop, exchanged Jess’s deacon’s stole for that of a priest and welcomed her with a big hug. A Communion service for all then followed.

The next day, on Sunday June 3rd, Jess presided at her first Communion Service as an ordained priest of the Church of England. The Revd Dr Joe Kennedy, who is Vicar of Oxton where Jess undertook her pre-ordination training and who was a tutor of Jess’s at St Mellitus College, delivered an inspirational sermon on Romans 12 proclaiming the love of Christ. At the end of the service many in the congregation felt moved to tears as the choir, stationed around St Mary’s, sang “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”.  Everyone then trooped over to the Parish Centre where over 60 people sat down to a really delicious shared lunch provided by members of our three congregations. An outstanding  cake spelling “REV” made by Jess’s friend, Emily,  rounded off the meal.  Finally, Ian proposed a toast for Jess and her future ministry which brought a very special, spiritual weekend to an end.

Sue Redford, Churchwarden

Relay race of faith

I wonder if you enjoyed school sports days. And if you did, what was your favourite sport? When I was at school, I often got nominated to do most of the activities, seeing as I was the only girl in my form group who appeared to be even a little bit interested in sport. This was all quite frustrating! But the one thing I loved being a part of was the relay race. There was something about being a member of a team and working together with others toward a common goal that was quite exhilarating. June was quite a big month for me on account of my Ordination, and as I spent some time reflecting on my journey up until this point, I realised that the relay race is a good image for us when thinking about our own journeys of faith.

At the time of writing this article, it is the anniversary of my baptism – a day which coincided with my grandfather’s birthday. My grandparents were great examples to me of what it meant to live the Christian life, and they have both, at different times in their lives passed on the ‘baton of faith’, not only to me, but to countless others as well. They both were involved in the Church, my grandmother leading Sunday School and my grandfather being the Captain of the Boys Brigade unit, and through those many people came to faith. And they are just the start of a long line of people who have encouraged me in the faith, who have prayed for me and supported me along the way, and for that I will be forever grateful. So, this summer, even though you might not physically be running a race, think about who you might pass on the baton of faith to, and give thanks for those who have passed it on to you.

Jess Piper, Curate


My journey to faith and the Home Group

My journey to faith wasn’t achieved by sitting in a pew on Sunday morning: it was made possible by small groups meeting informally on weekday evenings. The groups helped me explore my thoughts about faith, learn more about Christianity and the Bible, and start on repentance and renewal. I met like-minded people, made friends and shared experiences and hope. To me, those groups demonstrated the fundamentals of Christian fellowship and discipleship.

Home Groups operate on the same principles. They are places of fellowship, friendship and mutual spiritual and moral support. They are about learning more about our faith, in theory and practice. They are safe places where you can ask questions, and talk about your thoughts and feelings without fear. Groups are autonomous and have diverse approaches to their mission: one group focuses on prayer, some follow courses offered by the Christian Union and others, while other groups focus on Bible reading. Some meet weekly, some fortnightly, some monthly; some always meet in the same place, while some meet wherever and whenever the members can make it.

To find out more, come to our Home Group Fair on 17th June at the Parish Centre, starting at 12.00. All the current groups will be there to explain the benefits of being part of a regular group, and to invite you to a “taster” meeting.

Mike Duncombe, Adult Discipleship

The Griffin Charity Festival

On Saturday 30 June from 12.30 – 7pm The Griffin, together with Altrincham Matters, is having a Charity Festival. This will be a fantastic occasion with the aim of raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support and there will be plenty to interest people of all ages. There will be lots of stalls to enjoy including Honey Beat, Lauren B., Joanne Art, Acorn Bakery and the Bowdon Rooms. At St Mary’s we are lucky to be in such close proximity to two such friendly pubs and we are excited that Bowdon Parish has been asked to have a stall too.

There will also be live music throughout the day, which will create a great atmosphere. Many of the acts are local and these include Liam McClair, Jordan Drinkwater, Folk Remedy and the Music Place Choir.

Please pop into the Griffin: Stamford Road, Bowdon, WA14 2TP, for more details or contact them:
6196@greeneking.co.uk / 0161 928 1211.
Catherine Cleghorn, Ordinand

The Booth Centre – rebuilding lives

At the Ladies’ Continental Breakfast in April we were inspired by a talk on the Booth Centre in Manchester from our churchwarden, Sue Redford, who has been appointed the first ambassador for the Centre.

The Centre is not a hostel, but caters in a wide variety of ways for people sleeping rough; men make up 93% of its clients, around half have alcohol problems, a third have drug-related issues and a massive 85% are wrestling with their mental health.

‘Rough sleepers’ end up on the streets for myriad reasons, including becoming homeless at the end of a tenancy or marriage break-up. They are provided at the Booth Centre with not only wholesome meals – up to 800 a week are served – but also an impressive range of services to help them to get their lives back on track. The Centre offers assistance in finding accommodation, accessing medical, podiatry and counselling services, and developing skills such as literacy and computing, sewing and woodwork, all of which help to restore self-belief.

Many of the volunteers at the Centre have been on the streets themselves, and are therefore fully aware of the challenges someone faces when they have reached ‘rock bottom’. Obviously, they have great street credibility with those they are trying to help out of a life of hopelessness and homelessness.

Bowdon Parish supports the Booth Centre in several important ways. Our harvest collection provides them with their biggest single input of food. There is always a constant need also for socks, gloves, hats, scarves, equipment for housing and towels, which do not have to be new for the Centre’s showers. Please check out their website (www.boothcentre.org.uk) and our weekly pew sheet for their latest appeals.  Items donated should be left in the allotted place at the back of St Mary’s. The Booth Centre also welcomes volunteers, financial donations, offers of help with fundraising, and the possibility of employment opportunities for the homeless people they are trying so hard to help.

Joanna Williams

Funding the Future of Bowdon Parish

From time to time all organisations need to take stock and Bowdon Parish is no exception. Over recent months we have been looking in particular at what money we need to sustain our present work and have also been considering our ambitions for the future.

The Parish is a thriving centre of Christian worship celebrated at St Mary’s Church, St Luke’s Church and at the Parish Centre where Zone2 meet, adjacent to St Mary’s. We are also grateful that we often have the chance to engage with the local community in myriad different ways. For the old and the young there are opportunities throughout the year to meet, socialise and have fun in the community facilities offered at St Luke’s and the Parish Centre.

Naturally, for the future we want to sustain all this, and especially to develop our work with young people. They are the ones who will generate the energy and life to create a new future for the Church, our community and our society. They also face significant challenges as they navigate the pressures of social media, a world flooded with information and choice, and rising expectations to perform.

We want to continue to provide somewhere safe, positive and interesting for them to go so that they can experience great social, personal and spiritual rewards. Our volunteer youth team make this happen but they need the leadership and support of a full time Youth Missioner to be fully effective.

All that stands in our way is lack of funds.

There is a myth that Bowdon Parish receives funds from the government, or the national church, or the diocese. Nothing could be further from the truth. All the £330,000 a year it costs to run our Parish – that’s about £6,500 every week – has to be found from within the Parish. Half of it comes from hiring out our buildings – the Parish Centre for example – but the other half – over £3000 per week – comes from giving by the members of the Parish.

At the moment there is a shortfall between our income and expenditure of about £25,000 per annum, and that is before we fund our full time Youth Missioner. Properly funded work with young people adds about another £40,000 per year, so we have a significant challenge on our hands.

Not surprisingly, Bowdon Parish has embarked on a fund raising drive! The centrepiece is a Future Fund for Youth, through which we hope to raise £200,000 to meet the costs of our youth work for at least five years. The great news is that we have already raised £100,000 towards our target.

At the same time, we are also working on increasing our regular income to support the day to day work and running of the Parish.

We would like to say a big thank you to all those who have already made generous gifts, and do urge you to keep in touch with our progress on the Parish Website.

Philip Smyth

If you would like to help with funding the future of Bowdon Parish please get in touch with Ian Rumsey at
ian@bowdonchurch.org, Philip Smyth at philipsmyth@bowdonchurch.org or Simon Wood at simonwood@bowdonchurch.org

Together we can withstand the storms

Christian Aid Week 13 – 20 May

For 70 years, Christian Aid has been supporting people in need around the world; not only Christians, but people of every faith and none. It works through local partners to respond to humanitarian crises and to help people in some of the world’s poorest areas to build sustainable lives. In Haiti for example, there is a desperate need for homes strong enough to withstand the hurricanes that sweep across the island.

During Christian Aid week our team of collectors will be delivering Christian Aid envelopes to every home in the parish. By giving, you can help to build secure, disaster-proof homes in Haiti.

£30 could buy high quality cement.

£50 could buy basic building tools.

£210 could up-skill a local builder to build disaster-proof homes.

We aim to collect all the envelopes, but if yours isn’t collected and you want to donate, please bring the envelope to the Parish Centre next to St Mary’s Church. In addition, if you gift aid your donation its value will be increased by 25%, at no cost to you.

Please give generously. Thank you for your support.

Kate Stross – Parish Coordinator for Christian Aid