The subject of change provided a common theme for the first meeting of the new synod on Saturday.

It was the first time the new members of the houses of clergy and laity had met following the summer elections.

Pupils from Mounts Bay Academy and Five Islands Academy opened proceedings with worship which focused on values, their importance and their place in change, before the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Colonel Edward Bolitho spoke on the role of the church in Cornwall.

Synod then heard from the Revd Canon Philip Mounstephen, the 16th Bishop of Truro-elect, who addressed the meeting. Possibly setting the tone for his leadership, Philip said: “Jesus Christ did not come to found a cosy institution where we can seek refuge from the rest of the world.”

He went on to reminded members that ‘it is not just about our activities, it is also about our discipleship’. He reflected on Luke 4:16 – 21 and asked people to apply it to themselves with the following passage:

Spirit of the Lord is on us,
Because he has anointed us to
Proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent us to proclaim
Freedom for the prisoners and
Recovery of sight for the blind, to
Set the oppressed free, and to
Proclaim the year of the Lord’s

Bishop Chris opened his Presidential Address by asking those present: ‘Are we ready?’ He reflected back to the opening worship and the comment that ‘change is good but it can also be hard’. He noted the changes not only in synod membership but that with the arrival of a new bishop: ‘It will be different,’ he said.

As it is the first meeting of the new synod, diocesan secretary Esther Pollard and registrar Jos Moule outlined some of the processes of synod, its role and how it relates to other parts of the church.

Some veteran members were asked to give their reflections on synod. Revd Canon Steve Robinson used a metaphor of a pasty to talk about the good and bad parts of synod – and following the lead of the Mount’s Bay Academy, suggested the use of a therapy dog might be good for members during budget items.

After lunch Mike Sturgess was re-elected chair of the Truro Diocesan Board of Finance. He then provided members with a detailed presentation on the budget for 2019 – 2021. This budget is the first one since the new MMF allocation system was agreed and Mike was clear with members that setting it had been difficult because there was no way of knowing what the call would be, and indeed what impact Brexit would have and what changes it would necessitate. Synod voted to approve the budget.

The issues of a reduction in clergy numbers, lay costs and the importance of tithing were raised during questions following the budget presentation.

The diocese’s representatives on General Synod spoke on topics covered at the most recent meeting, answering questions from diocesan synod members. Safeguarding was an important topic with, members speaking passionately about the importance of everyone playing their parts to make the church a safer place.

The meeting ended with a presentation by Gill Ford and Revd Mike Todd from The Children’s Society on its work. Gill thanked the diocese for the money donated over the past five years, amounting to around £35,000 per year, and drew particular attention to Powder, Penwith and Kerrier deaneries who were the top donors.

The meeting ended with prayers.

The next diocesan synod will take place on November 10 at County Hall, Truro.