Becoming Better Together: Ecumenical Progress in Cornwall

It's ten years since churches in the county signed a Declaration of Intent to work together more closely.

Roger Mills, Editor, Churches Together in Cornwall writes…

Just over ten years ago, on 17 November 2013, leaders of Churches Together in Cornwall gathered at a packed service in the county’s largest parish church, St Petroc’s in Bodmin. In the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and other national leaders, a Declaration of Intent and Letter of Companionship were signed committing us all to work more closely together.

Watch a recording of the Declaration of Intent service on YouTube.

Signing the CT in Cornwall covenant in 2013
A still taken from the video of Cornwall church leaders signing the Declaration of Intent in 2013.

A decade on, Christians in Cornwall will gather again at St Petroc’s on 27 January 2024, at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, to review our work since 2013 and re-dedicate ourselves to ‘Becoming Better Together’ with the signing of a new Covenant. So what have we achieved in the last ten years?

Well, Brexit, Covid, war in Ukraine and the Middle East and the cost-of-living crisis have affected us all as individuals, communities and churches in ways we did not anticipate. New doors have opened and church contributions to local secular initiatives, in support of poverty, loneliness, homelessness, mental health, climate change, bereavement, refugee support and much else, have been welcomed and encouraged. New Liaison Groups have been formed to develop these new relationships and discussions have begun with Cornwall Council on the development of a Faith Covenant. Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way, as Pink Floyd once wrote; but the salt and light that Christians can bring changes the desperation to hope.

In 2013, we focussed on three specific commitments: to seek joint initiatives for mission; to work together to equip both lay and ordained ministry; and to optimise the use of church buildings for the community. After the signing, working groups were set up and three follow-up conferences in different parts of the county were arranged to gather local ideas. It became clear that top-down solutions would not work; so we have sought to develop closer relations with local groups, support their work however we may and build a new directory of church-led social action projects. Cornwall’s hosting of the G7 conference in 2021 afforded many opportunities for working and praying together, sowing seeds which are now beginning to bear fruit; but the challenges facing Cornwall, one of the UK’s most deprived areas, continue to multiply. So, all Christians in Cornwall are being invited to sign our new Covenant, which is not just for leaders, as we work together to address those challenges, confident that we really are becoming better together!

Read more of the story of Churches Together in Cornwall

Main photo: Ecumenical worship at Gwennap Pit in 2018 © Churches Together in Cornwall.