You, Jesus told his followers, are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.

It was through their good deeds that this light might shine.

Halfway between Camborne and Penzance, the Cornish village of St Erth might today seem a very long way from first century Judaea. Yet in the charity and fellowship of its community of parishioners the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount continues to burn bright and true.

Since just before Christmas, thanks to the generous efforts of local volunteers and supported by funds from the Diocese of Truro, which have helped with the costs of food, energy and equipment, the parish has run a weekly community café to help local people, including young families and the elderly, who are struggling, like so many of us, with the pressures brought by the current cost-of-living crisis. The café meets every Friday afternoon at the local church hall.

The initiative is coordinated by Helen Purchase.

“It had a slow start,” says Helen, “but, as the weeks have gone by, it has become well supported, with helpers, donations of soup and cakes, and our grant from the diocese supplying other simple meals and a community larder.”

The weekly gathering offers a small lunch menu, with café-style seating, magazines and newspapers, and a children’s play area.

“It has slowly grown and now has a regular clientele including local retired people and those out of work,” says Helen. “We have local families with young children and also visits from a local residential home.”

The project continues to make efforts to reach out to the most disadvantaged in the village. Its organisers have distributed promotional leaflets through the local shop and farmers’ market and have publicized the café in The Cornishman and in the local school newsletter. A large banner posted outside the church hall also attracts people to the café during its weekly opening hours.

“We know from chatting to those who come that they value the social contact, the relaxed and informal atmosphere, and the chance to catch up with existing friends, and to make new friends,” Helen says. “The young families enjoy a new space for their children to meet and interact with their peers, especially after the disruption to their opportunities for socialisation during the Covid-19 crisis.”

But, just as we’ve emerged from that crisis, we’re now of course facing huge new challenges caused by sharp rises in the costs of living.

As a centre of village life, the parish church has once more stepped up to offer a focus and a hub through which the people of its local community have come together to support and sustain each other through these extraordinarily difficult days, in generous fellowship and in living faith that those who strive to grow in kindness and love may one day, as they say, inherit St Erth.