Becoming Better Together: A new covenant for Churches Together in Cornwall

Churches Together in Cornwall Coordinator Kathy Pope reports on their 10th anniversary gathering.

St Petroc’s Church in Bodmin was the setting for a diverse gathering of Christians on Saturday 27 January. We met so that we might strengthen our mutual understanding, grow unity from the grassroots, and treasure our differences as gifts to each other. More than 80 people gathered in this ancient church which is dedicated to one of our major Celtic saints.

The emphasis was on connecting, learning, listening and envisioning our path for the next ten years (at least). Our keynote speaker, CTE’s Rev Dr Benjamin Aldous, inspired us to be curious, to expand our networks and friendships across racial, socioeconomic, class and ecclesiastical divides, discovering the joy of diversity and the value of storytelling as we witness and share the Good News.

Ben reminded us of the World Council of Churches’ 1982 affirmation on mission and evangelism: …there is no Christian solidarity that does not involve sharing the knowledge of the kingdom which is God’s promise to the poor of the earth’. Such solidarity in shared social action was much in evidence – through the organisations that had brought displays and information, and the inspirational examples of Christians at work in every community. We heard about support for people who are homeless, foodbanks, Warm Spaces and a Night Church, listening services of all kinds, together with hopes for more regular shared prayer and worship, initiatives to challenge injustice together, and support for young people into leadership roles.

Church leaders at Churches Together in Cornwall 10th anniversary service
Matt Noble (Baptist Denominational Ecumenical Officer (DEO)), Rev Loraine Mellor (Chair CTC), Geoff Watson (Quaker DEO), Rev Simon Atkinson (Associate Priest, St Petroc’s Church), Bishop Hugh Nelson (Bishop of St Germans), Major Susan Tidball (Salvation Army DEO), Fr Paul Keys (RC Parish Priest, Bodmin)
Bishop of St Germans, Hugh Nelson
Bishop of St Germans, Hugh Nelson at St Petroc’s Norman font

In our final act of worship, we presented and declared our Covenant together. This consists of eight statements that recognise and give thanks for the unity we already share and the rich heritage of Cornwall. We confessed that which still divides us and promised to re-dedicate ourselves to share our gifts, serving the people and land of Cornwall, growing in the love of Christ.

  • We give thanks to God for the way in which Christians from different traditions have grown together – through worshipping and serving, fellowship and learning, sharing both gifts and differences in love.
  • We give thanks for the role of Churches Together in Cornwall, and all of the Churches and Christians Together groups, as we grow positive relationships where unity can increase.
  • We lament that there are still issues which divide us and we repent that we damage the Body of Christ, weakening our witness to communities in Cornwall.
  • We rejoice in the diversity of our traditions that enrich us all, as we journey together.
  • We celebrate the heritage of Cornwall which we share in our holy places, our welcome to one and all, and renewed tradition of pilgrimage.
  • We commit to share our gifts freely, and value each other’s treasures, as we learn and grow in Christ. Together we will proclaim the Good News through evangelisation and mission as we seek to deepen local relationships.
  • We commit to working for God’s kingdom through better understanding and closer co-operation. Together we will serve the people of Cornwall through positive social action and work for climate justice, caring equally for our common home and those who experience disadvantage.
  • We re-dedicate ourselves and our churches to working towards the fullness of unity for which Christ prayed, through the power of the Holy Spirit and to the praise and glory of God.

A core principle of this approach is that everyone is invited to sign, equally and inclusively. This is more than an event, rather an ongoing process. We intend to revisit the Covenant each year during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Now our challenge is to step out in our shared faith and common joy, build new relationships, serve our neighbour and care for our common home; in doing all this we will surely become better together.

Watch the Churches Together in Cornwall re-dedication service

Download the service booklet.

Learn more about Churches Together in Cornwall.