During his inaugural Presidential Address at diocesan synod on Saturday, Bishop Philip asked ‘what do we hope and pray this Diocese of Truro might look like in 10 years’ time?

For those who have taken part in the bishop’s roadshows this spring, the priorities he raised will not be a surprise – celebrating children and young people, innovation and pioneering culture, confidence in our calling and international relationships. At synod he added a fifth priority, a church that rejoices in the generosity of God.

Keen to highlight that this will not be a master plan imposed from above, Bishop Philip unveiled his A Strategy for a Strategy matrix. “I am not trying to set out what we are going to do. Rather I am drawing up a framework that encourages engagement, by providing opportunities alongside the many we already have, so we can see these aspirations become a reality, context by context, church by church.

“I’d like different groups of people with particular skills and passions in these areas to populate the empty cells with ideas of what we might do.”

Mike Sturgess, chair of the Truro Diocesan Board of Finance Ltd (TDBF), then took to the podium to give an update on the diocese’s financial position. Informing synod members that the diocese had an operating deficit of over £600,000 at the end of 2018, a situation Mike attributed in part to low Mission and Ministry Fund payments, he went on to say that 2019 was unlikely to fare better unless there was a change.

Following synod voting to accept the reports of the Board, Bishop Philip returned to the floor. Having earlier told members that the statistics of decline in the diocese were clear and that they all needed to be very clear that ‘many of our churches are coming to the end of their shelf life’, he said: “We cannot detach money from vision, the two must be indispensably linked. I’ve been very clear how important I think our common commitment to ‘Discovering God’s Kingdom: Growing the Church is. Indeed I want it to be central to all that we are and do, our finances included.”

He went on to make two promises to synod: that he would never make people feel guilty about the level of giving, and secondly, that he would ‘do all I can to renew us in vision for the future’.

Following a short break, synod members heard presentations from the diocese’s Equality and Diversity Committee chair Revd Dom Whitting on Welcoming All God’s People before Lay Canon Dr Jonathan Rowe, director of ministry, gave a presentation on the theology of safeguarding. This session lead on to break out safeguarding sessions, which continued over lunch.

Members were welcomed back to the chamber with a question and answer session with General Synod members Revd Andrew Yates, Revd Chris Mcquillen-Wright and Lay Canon Emeritus, Canon Dr Mike Todd who fed back on motions around environment, gambling and more. The meeting ended with an update on Transforming Mission in Falmouth from Revd Canon Bill Stuart-White and Revd Chris Hassell, pioneer minister at New Street Church Falmouth.

The next diocesan synod meeting will take place on Saturday, September 28 at County Hall, Truro.