Transforming Mission makes perfect sense in Falmouth, where it was first pioneered. As a new and exciting mission to grow the church in new ways in new communities, it’s also a great fit for Truro, St Austell and Liskeard. But Camborne? Home of brass bands, ex-miner’s choirs and staunchly traditional churches, how does a team go about transforming somewhere that seems perfectly happy where they are, thank you very much.

“With grace, love and kindness,” says Revd Rosheen Browning, priest-in-charge of the five churches in the Camborne cluster.  “We’re not about ‘doing’ things to the community but journeying with them.” And so said Revd Graham Adamson, their Lead Minister,  Becky Lines, the Families’ Lead and Esther Sardar, the team’s Worship Leader.

“We’re not about ‘doing’ things to the community but journeying with them,” Revd Rosheen Browning.

It’s been so interesting to meet most of the new team over the past six months as they’ve come onboard. Each feels very clearly that God has laid on their hearts the need to listen to Him and the community, and to work together to only bring about the changes the community wants to make. As Families’ Lead Becky said, “When I was praying, I heard God say, ‘Just love my people, love Camborne. You’ll know what to do.’”

“When I was praying, I heard God say, ‘Just love my people, love Camborne. You’ll know what to do,” Becky Lines, Families’ Lead.

Holding something precious despite closed doors

Each team member believes they have been gifted something precious that they are all holding gently and prayerfully, watching and waiting for the right doors to open. Which hasn’t been easy over the past 18 months.

One door that remained bewilderingly closed was the idea of high street presence, perhaps along the lines of Huddle in Falmouth or the Trinity pub project aligned to Holy Trinity in St Austell. “When I was appointed as interim minister back in June 2019, that was very much the plan,” says Roshee. “But try as we might we never found an opening. Then the pandemic hit, and we thought, ‘Ah, that’s why!’” They knew for sure that God’s hand was in it as they could have easily signed up for something that would have proved to be costly and unsustainable as the crisis deepened.

Instead, they are taking themselves to where the communities are with a ready-made pop-up venue in the form of a large gazebo. It gives them the flexibility to create a welcoming space where the community gathers, like at the annual Prize Fair Show in Praze-an-Beeble, Camborne Annual show, farmers’ markets, community events, local parks and open spaces.

No blueprint or road-map, just a blank sheet of paper and patience to let God do the writing

For the team at Camborne there is no blueprint or road map, it’s more a blank sheet of paper that they can either get busy trying to fill or lean into God and let Him do the writing. They all prefer the latter, which can be a challenging test of faith. The pandemic has been wretched and particularly tough for the community in Camborne who lost people close to them, but it has opened out spaces – sometimes yawningly empty ones that require genuine courage to wait upon.

Barney Hooper the young people’s leader, launched the youth work online, not knowing if anyone was listening or would respond. But Barney, the only member of the team to be born and bred in Camborne, let God take over. The group started with just two people and has grown to a Bible study on Sunday, a social group in the week with plans to launch an after-school drop in, supporting the young people as they walk past the church on their way to the train station after school.

Honouring the way people worship but working alongside them to find new creative ways to encourage and support

A similar initiative is being set up in Penponds, but not because Becky, the Families’ Leader, decided that’s what should be done. The small congregation of this typically traditional Cornish Anglican church didn’t want to change the way they worship but knew that many young families in their community need support and so suggested an afterschool club.

They have also initiated a Thursday evening service, recognising that Sunday can be a difficult day for families. Many parents have to work, children have sporting fixtures, or it’s simply the only day no one has to rush out the door. Doing so for a bemusing, inaccessible high church service is a big ask. The congregation get that and have a heart to do something different alongside the way they enjoy worshipping.

“That’s what’s so encouraging, says Rosheen. “It’s the congregation’s love for their community that’s driving this, not a glossy TM team with scary ideas telling them what they should be doing.”

Both perfectly illustrate the way the TM team works in Camborne. Honour the way people love to worship, but work alongside them to find new creative ways to encourage and support more people who wouldn’t ordinarily look to the church to find answers to their needs.

Camborne, sitting within the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK, is well off the tourist trail

And the need in Camborne is great. Well off the tourist trail, it’s within the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK, unemployment is high, self-esteem low and life profoundly hard for far too many. Where does anyone begin to make the good news of Jesus relevant?

“Gently and usefully,” says Revd Graham. Home-schooling was hard for many parents, children need energy, resources and diverting ideas. So, during lockdown he worked with the team to provide Blessing Boxes. These were letterbox size boxes, posted to all the school children at St Meriodoc, full of messy church type craft kits, compostable balloons, tea and a QR code for parents to join a live zoom event.

They launched the idea for pancake day then repeated it over Easter. The school took 260 boxes, one for each child, filled with fun things to do around the Easter story and again with an invitation for parents to join in a live zoom service. 15 children came along, many of whom now come to the Sunday school.

Where does anyone begin to make the good news of Jesus relevant? “Gently and usefully,” says Revd Graham Anderson, Lead Minister

Getting parents involved through food

Becky works closely with the local schools, who recognised the wonderful things they were doing, but agreed they needed to get the parents involved. As part of that, Becky has just completed a ‘Parenting For Faith’ certificate. “For parents to engage with what’s going on, they need to want to stay – not just drop off the kids. So, we’re doing a lot of thinking around that  – food will definitely play a part!”

“For parents to engage with what’s going on, they need to want to stay – not just drop off the kids,” says Families’ Lead, Becky Lines.

They realised that after a toddler group, the parents were heading off to McDonalds. Now they provide a lunch instead. It plays into Becky’s life experience as she used to be a DT teacher and really wants to draw parents in with cooking. “But it’s a delicate balance, we don’t want to be preachy around food, but food is a great way to break down barriers, help with balancing family budgets and providing longer term sustainable support with food poverty and general wellbeing.”

Becky leading a story-telling and foraging outdoor parent and children’s group

The talents of the Transforming Mission team in Camborne and God’s provision

The talents and life experiences of the TM team in Camborne are a great example of how God is in this. With all the Transforming Mission teams, the quality of the people and the particular skills they bring to the very diverse areas of Cornwall where they have landed, are extraordinary. That’s particularly apparent when talking with Worship Leader Esther. Before joining the TM team in Camborne, Esther was a mum at home in Bristol, writing and making music. The job description of worship leader challenged her and came at time when life was at a crossroads, and she had cried out to God for help. She wanted the job, knew she could probably do it, but didn’t think she would get it – and anyway it was miles away and the family didn’t have the resources to make such a huge move.

 “God provided. In ways that were almost unbelievable – every obstacle that stood in our way, He overcame. From getting the job to financing the move, my husband securing a transfer, finding a home, schools for the children….it’s been an awesome journey,” Esther Sardar, Worship Leader.

Brass bands, male-voice choirs and contemporary worship?

An obvious wrinkle in the plan would be that Esther had been immersed in contemporary worship – how was that going to fit with the very traditional worship style in Camborne? “So far it’s me and a fantastic organist who adores traditional church music – and we are having so much fun learning from each other!” Like all other aspects of TM in Camborne, the worship is gently weaving into the existing fabric. “I grew up in a mining village in Wales – I love the tradition and sound of male voice choirs, I understand the lament of lost incomes, and so does God.” Esther plans to work with the unique sound of Camborne, celebrate it and also fuse it with a contemporary sound. “When they are ready!” she laughs.

Despite the different church backgrounds of the team, all of them love being in the Church of England, especially in Camborne. “I’ve found it to be a safe space,” says Esther. “A wonderful group of people willing to embrace people of all kinds, allowing people to flourish in their giftings and celebrating people.”

Transforming Mission isn’t a one-size-fits-all mission

So, will Transforming Mission fit with Camborne? Absolutely, because it isn’t a one-size-fits-all mission. Camborne is unique and so is the team, and with God front and centre of all they are doing it will be a very exciting mission to watch develop. Each team member shares the desire to see people coming to the church because they want an encounter with God, and really believe that’s up to Him. He’s the one who changes people’s heart and draws them to Himself. As Rosheen says, “Our job is to listen, be obedient and surrender to what He wants us to do.”

Transformation Mission in Camborne

Wave of Hope for Transforming Mission in Camborne