Church Commissioners back bold plan to transform mission in Cornwall
The architects of a visionary £2.8 million plan to transform the Church of England within the Diocese of Truro are this week celebrating, following the news that the Church Commissioners have given their backing to the scheme.
The commissioners have backed the plan and agreed a grant of £1.7 million over six years, to add to the £1.15 million pledged by the Diocese of Truro. The diocesan money will be resourced by specific reserves and will not affect the MMF Call, or the money that comes direct from parishes.
The news effectively gives the green light to the scheme, which is the second phase of the diocese’s Transforming Mission initiative.
Four new hubs
It will see hubs established in four more urban centres: St Austell, Camborne, Liskeard and Truro.
Phase one of the scheme saw the Transforming Mission project established in Falmouth, which has already led to the opening of the Huddle café and the creation of New Street Church, which has a sizeable weekly congregation and is growing. The number of people worshipping at the existing All Saints Church has also already grown from an average weekly attendance of 35 to 60.
The strategy is to create ‘resourcing churches’ in each of these urban hubs. Each of them will deliver a mix of new projects aimed at revitalising existing church communities, a large number of both religious and social outreach projects, and new church plants.
The funding will be staggered over six years, with a view to the projects becoming self-sustaining after this time.
- In St Austell, the Holy Trinity Church has already purchased a redundant, town centre pub which will be refurbished and reopened as a café and meeting space, and will also be the location for the first new worshipping community. Christians Against Poverty will have a presence to help people who may be struggling, and there will be links to other community initiatives in partnership with other churches in the areas. The scheme will also build on current work to engage with clubs and all schools in the area, and create new opportunities to engage with 18-30 year-olds in the area through work in colleges, music and social events. It will also develop the depth of discipleship within the area through courses and the training of lay leaders and interns.
- Transforming Mission in Camborne will include establishing a high street drop-in centre through which the church will engage with the community, with a special focus on single parents and young people. It will aim to identify and train new leaders to start worshipping communities in the surrounding villages. In the larger villages the project will establish ‘rural hubs’ in existing churches and community buildings such as schools, pubs and family centres. The church will also develop effective connections with all the schools in the area, as well as with the three local family hubs (formerly Children’s Centres). Key to the strategy will be providing teaching and support to enable congregation members to be confident in talking about their Christian faith.
- In Liskeard, the project will be centred in the vibrant St Martin’s Church. The plan there is to develop a Christians Against Poverty centre; to reach out to young families by increasing its involvement with schools and parenting courses; set up a new youth-oriented worshipping community, and establish a local network of parish youth groups. The church will also develop partnerships with rural parishes in south east Cornwall to enable them to grow – and facilitating at least one new church plant within existing parishes that want to innovate and grow, but which currently lack the resources to achieve that.
- The strategy for Truro is to work closely with All Saints Highertown (ASH) which is already embarking upon the ambitious Lifehouse Project. This will provide support to continue developing the church’s considerable services for the vulnerable. These include the foodbank, Christians Against Poverty, bereavement counselling, mental health services, dementia support groups, addiction support groups and Acts435, which provides financial support to those in immediate need. The project will also see a brand new worshipping community established within the Langarth development, and new worshipping communities established in existing buildings such as Truro Cathedral and the new facilities in ASH. The plan is also to develop its work with schools and young people by resourcing existing and new ministries that will encourage young people and their families in faith, and develop young leaders for the church.
Surrounding areas to benefit
The locations chosen for Phase II of Transforming Mission all have large populations, both within the towns themselves, but also in the surrounding parishes. There will be a sustained drive to share the learnings and experiences so that the surrounding areas will also benefit. These towns will all be home to substantial new housing developments in the next five years. Each of the towns has significant levels of deprivation and is home to significant populations of children, young families and, in all but one case, students.
The Bishop of St Germans, the Rt Revd Dr Chris Goldsmith, was closely involved with the development of the funding bid to the Church Commissioners. He said: “We are naturally delighted by the news that the Church Commissioners have given the green light for this funding. It shows that they share our confidence in the potential to grow the church here within the Diocese of Truro.
“It also represents a vote of confidence in the work done so far by all those who have worked so hard to make Transforming Mission in Falmouth a success. Although it is still relatively early days, it is clear that there is a genuine desire for to hear and spread the word of God – and that has been shown to be the case among members both in our existing congregation, and in our new worshipping community.”
‘Pioneering and innovation’
The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, said: “When I was asked at interview to outline my priorities as bishop, I spoke about my own strong commitment to pioneering and innovation: values which Transforming Mission embodies so well. Such a commitment is entirely faithful to our Cornish heritage – a heritage in which innovation both in industry and mission were central.
“I would like to offer my thanks to the Church Commissioners for the confidence they have shown in us and my congratulations to all those who have been involved in the bid and who have worked so hard on the first phase, in Falmouth.
“Now begins the real hard work – but also the joy of sharing God’s love with more of our friends and neighbours, strengthening our communities, and working to help our brothers and sisters.”