How is Transforming Mission shaping up?
Excitement was high around Transforming Mission coming to Cornwall when it began in 2017. A revival, a chance to share the transformative love of Jesus, with the help of generous funding from the Church of England Commissioners. Hope flourished as the call went out to people across the country to help us energise Cornwall.
Four years on, how did that wave of excitement land? Like all decent waves, it disrupted, sometimes surging, sometimes rippling, but constantly rolling. It began in Falmouth, then spread out to Truro, St Austell, Camborne and Liskeard and is changing the landscape.
The journey’s hard but the yearning to travel hasn’t diminished
Each TM location is different from the next, but they all share similar stories of team members having very clear callings to uproot and move their lives west. And all have had moments of wondering why they did it – the journey’s been a hard one. Yet that yearning to reach out to people, old, young and everything in between hasn’t just kept them going, but grown stronger as the teams have come to love their communities.
Doing what Jesus told his disciples to do, ‘Go’
Making those connections has required patience, lateral thinking and a willingness to do what Jesus told his disciples to do, to go. Go out in the community, connect with people in in the places they gather, at events, in parks and even Morrisons’ carpark for an outdoor carol concert. “It’s not easy,” says Liam Hathway, Youth Worker for TM Liskeard. “And definitely not in my comfort zone, but now I cannot walk locally without seeing someone that I know.”
Go where the young gather
Liam arrived, like many other TM team members, during the pandemic. But having braved the parks and places where people meet, he was able to build on connections to set up a series of worship evenings that linked young people across the southeast of Cornwall, called Bulb.
Go and make connections
Likewise, Jonny Dant, Pioneer Minister from St Austell, has been growing a group called Grain, aimed at 18-30s, and has a wealth of inspirational stories about young people coming to faith. Like Liam, Jonny would love to grow Grain beyond the immediate borders, to work with other leaders to link up young people across his part of Cornwall.
Go into schools
In Falmouth, Schools and Families Leader Jane Wheeler has been running Kids Matter, a fantastic opportunity for parents to understand more about how their children learn and what gets in the way of that. Using Funds for Mission, the TM team also initiated Godly Play training for others leading our young (and older) across Cornwall.
Go into the community
In Camborne the TM teams have truly left the building. Using pop-ups in farmer’ markets, annual shows and community events, the team have been going all out to reach this rural and ex-mining community. If the worry was TM would sweep in and change all the traditions they love, Worship Leader Esther Sardar has been quick to reassure. Brought up in a Welsh mining village, Esther says, “I love the tradition and sound of male voice choirs, I understand the lament of lost incomes, and so does God.”
And go where the people are hurting
In Truro Joff Phipps, Social Justice Missioner, has become embedded in local community services to determine how best All Saints can help. He says, “My role is to help deepen the church’s relationship with those in need by building relationships, developing ways to help, but also to help equip the church to engage in social Justice issues.”
The difference that Transforming Mission makes
All of this and more is of course part of parish ministry and is being replicated in various ways in different settings across Cornwall and beyond. But the difference TM makes is everything is done to enrich and resource churches, parishes, and communities beyond the central TM church location. It isn’t about growing individual strategically placed mega churches, but inviting in and reaching out to others, growing the Kingdom and bringing about that hoped for revival. And it’s being done by nurturing green shoots planted in people’s homes, schools, clubs and local places of worship and community.
If you would like to find out how Transforming Mission can help you in your parish, the team would love to hear from you. Please contact Alex O’Byrne, Project Manager for Mission, or Julian Briscoe, TM Project Director.