We are the happy inheritors of the faith that was shared and taught by the Saints whose names are carried by so many of our towns, villages and churches today.
They walked, prayed and preached during a time of massive change and disruption. The Roman Empire had collapsed and much that had seemed sure and certain had turned shaky and uncertain. Plague, famine and invasion were all regular threats, and in part it was these disruptions that gave them the impetus to travel to and across Cornwall.
Faith, courage and willingness
Their faith, courage and willingness to set out into an unknown future are why the church that we know and love is in Cornwall today.
And now we face our own time of significant disruption and change. The church has always changed, and things were changing rapidly already…and then Covid-19 came along. And the question before us is no longer ‘do we want to change’ but, ‘how will we engage with change?’.
And because change is demanding, we want to support churches and deaneries to engage creatively and courageously with the future that God is calling us into. We’re calling this On the Way and this video explains why.
On the Way will work with deaneries; from February 2021 with Penwith, St Austell and Kerrier, and with others over the next 12 months. They will each be given the support of two On the Way advisors who will work closely with the Rural Dean to enable the church communities and those that they serve to dream, pray and plan for the future.
Fruitful and Sustainable
And two words are crucial to On the Way: fruitful and sustainable. Together they describe the destination we are seeking. And On the Way will include lots more about what those two terms mean, both theologically and practically, as well as resources for listening to each other, the communities we serve and the Lord we follow, as we seek to become more fruitful and sustainable.
We know that we will not reach this goal by writing a strategy for fruitfulness and sustainability, which is then given to churches to put into action. The Holy Spirit is much more likely to be at work in and around local communities, and the fruitful and sustainable future we long for is most likely to be discerned by local churches, working together in deaneries, seeking the Spirit and looking to join in.
And so On the Way is not a plan designed by others for the local church – instead it is an invitation to meet together for prayer, listening, dreaming and discussion, some ways for doing that, and some people to help you along the way, with the hopeful expectation that this will result in a clear plan for fruitful and sustainable church communities for the future God is calling us towards.
On the Way prayer
Faithful God, as you led your people of old,
into a new and fruitful place,
So lead us too today we pray.
Show us the way to go,
and help us on the way with the courage and the faith
and the imagination that we need
that we may be the church that you truly called us to be.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.