Opening the book and leading the way
Thanks to an ever-growing band of enthusiastic volunteers, the Diocese of Truro is vying for the top spot nationally with 150 Open the Book teams.
There are 233 primary schools in the diocese, 44 of which are church schools. These latest figures show that children in 66 per cent of all Cornish primary schools hear bible stories through this initiative. This puts the diocese on a par with current leader Gloucester.
Shelley Porter, now retired Discipleship Project Officer, said: “I think the success of Open the Book in Cornwall has been down to the support the diocese has given to parishes to train and set up teams and I sincerely hope that this will continue!”
Open the Book teams have been active in the diocese for the last 14 years and this year, the Bible Society will celebrate 20 years of Open the Book nationally.
To mark this milestone, the Bible Society is organising an event at Bodmin’s St Petroc’s Church in February. Bob Hartman, author of many of the stories for Open the Book, will be at the event as will Bishop Chris Goldsmith.
The Bible Society’s Val Ralston said: “Planning is well advanced for the service. In the run-up to it, we are encouraging teams to ask their schools to produce an A4 size landscape painting or collage of children’s quotes, prayers or artwork to represent their school. We want schools to bring them along on the day to add to our anniversary book.”
“Parishes have risen to the challenge”
Bishop Chris, a keen supporter of Open the Book, said: “At the tenth anniversary of Open the Book in Cornwall in 2015, I made a challenge: could we commit ourselves to taking Open the Book into every Cornish school? Four years later and it is obvious parishes have risen to the challenge. We aren’t there yet, but our leading position is certainly worth celebrating. Keep up the good work!”
Open the Book originally started in 1999 with a group of Christians presenting bible stories in school assemblies. It was in 2005 that Revd David Stevens and his wife Margaret started the first Open the Book team in Cornwall at Constantine School, this was then closely followed by St Minver School in 2006.