On Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24, the Bishops of Truro and St Germans will be conducting the annual Petertide services at Truro Cathedral to ordain people from across the diocese as deacons and priests.

”It’s always a joy, and a highlight of my year, to ordain people, either as deacons or priests,” said the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro. ”What is wonderful is to see just how God continues to raise people up into this ministry, from all sorts of different places and backgrounds. It gives me real hope for the future of the Church, and I thank God for them all.”

”I am so grateful for our faithful ordinands who have given so much of themselves to follow God’s call on their lives,” added the Right Reverend Hugh Nelson, Bishop of St Germans. ”We are blessed by them and their example to us all.”

Our new deacons

David Smith, St Austell

David Smith has lived in St Austell for the last 11 years, with his wife Debs and their children Joshua and Hannah.

He was born in Bristol, and was brought up in Durham, Dudley, Liverpool and Altrincham, before moving to Middlesbrough, where he studied Graphic Design at Teesside University.

He’d then settled in Leicester, working as a graphic designer, until one day there came an unexpected knock at his front door. It was his local vicar.

“So we welcomed him in, like you do when your vicar comes to your door,” he says.

The vicar had explained that their church’s youth worker was about to leave. Having asked around for recommendations, he’d heard David’s name coming up time and again, and was wondering if he’d be interested in the role.

David went on to spend seven years working with young people aged eleven to eighteen at that large multicultural Leicester church.

Towards the end of that time, he happened to be reading a youth work journal when an advert caught his eye. They were looking for a youth worker in St Austell.

Cornwall sounded particularly attractive to a man who describes himself as having been “a landlocked surfer in Leicester”.

He remembers the day of the interview just before Christmas 2011.

“It was a grey and miserable day,” he recalls. “It hardly seemed like a sunny beach kind of a place. But then as I walked out of the interview the sun suddenly burst through the clouds, and I thought this is the place to come to!”

In 2019, after more than seven years working with children, young people and families in St Austell, he’d started to sense that he’d done what he’d gone there to do.

He recalls one warm sunny day sitting with his wife Debs on a bench overlooking the Eden Project.

“I was turning to her, wanting to say I thought it was time to move on,” he says. “But, being a typical bloke, I couldn’t find the right words. So of course she turned to me and asked if I felt it was time to move onto something new.”

Shortly after that, they’d both been attending a parish awayday. A guest speaker at the event had said he felt he had a message for two people present. One was for a woman who had a broken piece of jewellery in her handbag. That was Debs. The other was for a man whom people called ‘Dave’ but who preferred to be called ‘David’.

The message was simple: “Now is the time.”

The next week, they visited their vicar at Holy Trinity in St Austell.

“During that conversation, there was a growing sense that I needed to push at the door of ordination,” David says. “And then that door began to open.”

For the next two years, as the church’s discernment process progressed towards the decision that his training should begin, he took a job working to help a friend out with his business.

“It was an important part of my journey – to be thrown back into the secular world of work,” he says.

He was then placed at St Martin’s Church in Liskeard for the duration of his two years of training for ordination. It had been the suggestion of his vicar at St Austell that he should experience what life was like in a different parish.

“It was very helpful,” he says. “It trained me in starting from scratch, in loving the people and seeing how I might best serve them.”

He oversaw the midweek discipleship groups in Liskeard – a group of people worshipping together and reflecting on the previous Sunday’s teaching.

He observes that, after his years of work with young people, it was hugely valuable to gain this experience of working with adults in the church.

Now, following his ordination, David is due to relocate to the Benefice of Lann Pydar, which includes the parishes of St Columb Major and St Mawgan-in-Pydar. There he’ll serve as a curate, working with the Reverend Helen Baber, the newly appointed Rural Dean of Pydar.

He says it will be a “real joy” working with Helen. He emphasises that he very much shares her commitment to local mission.

“I share that sense of equipping the saints to do the work of ministry,” he says. “Those of us who are ordained are here to help people discover what God has called them to do in their local communities.”

He also stresses that he couldn’t have travelled so far on this journey without his wife.

“We’re a team,” he says. “Every wife knows the real man behind what everyone else sees. I’m an incredibly blessed man to have my Debs. It’s that partnership that propels me to do what I do.”

And what he does, at the last, comes down to love.

“It’s all about a love for God and a love for people. That’s the mission to which I give myself,” he says. “It’s God who teaches me how to love people – who teaches me the mystery of how that love can transform a numpty like me.”

Stephen Guffick, St Germans

For the past two years, Stephen Guffick has been placed for his training for ordination in St Germans. After his ordination, Steve will serve as curate to the Benefices of Looe & Morval and Duloe & Herodsfoot.

“Looe’s a great community,” says Steve. “To see how the people of this area pull together to support things like the lifeboat station is a great model for the church – everyone pulling together for the good of the whole community.”

He commends the work already done by the priest in charge of his new parishes, the Reverend Ben Morgan Lundie.

“Ben’s doing a great job,” he says. “Hopefully I can help with that too.”

Steve was born in Truro to a Welsh mother and a father from Yorkshire.

“I was the first in my family to be born in Cornwall, so Cornish people wouldn’t say I’m properly Cornish,” he laughs.

He was brought up in Redruth, where he went to school. After school, he apprenticed as a carpenter. He continued to work in carpentry and construction until a few months ago.

Around eight years back, when Steve was in his mid-thirties, his father had become seriously ill.

“He had a leaky heart valve,” Steve says. “He was getting his affairs in order and had started talking about where he’d be going when he was gone.”

Steve recalls pointing out to his father that he’d never been a religious person.

“You come to see things differently,” his father had said.

On the morning he’d been due to go into hospital, his father had suffered a major heart attack. He’d died shortly afterwards.

Steve remembers then going into his father’s room at the hospital, holding his hand and saying the Lord’s prayer.

“I didn’t really know why I did it,” he says. “I wasn’t a Christian.”

After his father’s funeral, Steve had felt what he calls a “nagging” sense that he should go to church. He didn’t tell anyone about this.

He was living in Barnstaple at the time, but drove down to Redruth to visit a church near where he’d grown up.

“It felt familiar,” he says. “I went in secret. I snuck in, thinking it would quench my curiosity. It clearly didn’t.”

He recalls being warmly welcomed by the people at the church.

“It comes down to that welcome we give when a strange new person walks into the church,” he says. “I was that strange new person – very strange. But I just felt accepted and loved when I first walked in.

“So I kept going in secret for a month. I thought the first time would be a one-off, then the second time was a two-off too.”

When he at last told his girlfriend, who’d been raised a Christian, she was keen to join him and to return to a faith which had grown distant to her.

“And we’ve not looked back since,” Steve says.

They’re now married. She works as a consultant in intensive care at the Derriford Hospital.

Steve also has two sons, Josh and Ben, from his first marriage.

“They’re incredibly important to me,” he says. “Children keep you grounded. They keep your feet on the ground. Family is my respite and a great source of strength – alongside Christ too, of course.”

A few years ago, Steve and his wife moved to Launceston. While they were living there, the incumbent priest had left. The curate had only been made a full priest a couple of weeks earlier. So, Steve had wanted to help and had volunteered to become a local worship leader.

It made him wonder if he might be called to something more.

Then, one day in church, their priest was leading prayers for people who’d been confirmed the previous weekend. He’d got halfway through the list but couldn’t remember them all, so Steve had called out the last few names.

The priest thanked Father Peter, but Father Peter said it hadn’t been him. So the priest had said, “Thank you, Father Stephen.”

“And I got a dig in the ribs from Father Peter,” says Steve. “He said it was prophetic.”

Steve had then told his parish priest that he felt he might be being nudged towards some sort of ministry. They came to the conclusion that he should go away and pray about it.

“His parting words were that the ball was in my court,” says Steve. “Later that day I received an email from the diocesan director of ordinands suggesting we had a chat.”

He responded to his parish priest that this wasn’t quite what he’d understood by the ball being in his court.

And so that stage of his spiritual journey had begun. However, of course, a global pandemic had then interrupted that journey.

Steve and his wife had moved to St Germans at the start of lockdown.

“I wondered why God had sent us there at a time we couldn’t go out and meet people in our new community,” he says.

But they quickly set up online church services. They even worked with a local primary school to provide computer equipment to families who couldn’t afford it.

“Social action is an important part of my calling,” Steve says. “There’s that bit in the Gospels where Jesus says he’s here to bring the good news to the poor and oppressed. That’s an important part of the priestly calling. It’s not just about telling people, it’s also about helping them. We should be throwing open our doors in the cold, helping people with food, and doing whatever the community needs us to do.”

Our new priests

Reverend Lisa Coupland, Meneage

The Reverend Lisa Coupland was born in London at the hospital of St John and St Elizabeth. She was, she notes, delivered by nuns.

“I guess my calling was from birth,” she observes.

She moved to Cornwall in 1985, and apart from what she describes as a “brief stint” of two years in Canada, she’s been here ever since.

She’d enjoyed a successful career working in sales and marketing for several of the world’s biggest transnational drugs companies before deciding upon a life in the clergy.

“Once you’ve worked for a pharmaceuticals firm, you need to atone for your sins,” she laughs.

In fact, she’d had a strong faith since she was a child and had been raised in the Roman Catholic tradition.

“I wanted to be a priest since the age of six,” she recalls. “But being a Catholic girl that obviously wasn’t going to happen.”

She remembers as a child seeing a statue of St Francis surrounded by animals and feeling very drawn to him. She says she still has a very Franciscan and Celtic kind of spirituality, and a great love of dogs, horses and the natural world.

“But through my early years and into my twenties, I felt a bit let down by my church,” she says.

It wasn’t until the 1990s, when her children had started to attend an Anglican school, that she joined the Church of England and was baptised in an Anglican church.

Then in 2015, while in hospital following a major operation, she’d started talking with the chaplains and sitting with her fellow patients and praying with them.

“I’d heard the calling to be ordained since I was a child, but it was only then that I heeded that call,” she says. “I’d always felt I wasn’t good or clever enough. Every time I’d felt those nudges, I hadn’t recognised them for what they were.”

She was ordained as a deacon last year. Since then, she’s served as curate to the Meneage Benefice and the Deanery of Kerrier in the Lizard peninsula.

“This past year’s been a steep learning curve,” she says. “It’s been very enjoyable but challenging in equal measure.”

She’s full of praise for the support given by the Reverend Heidi Huntley, the Rural Dean of Kerrier.

“She’s a breath of fresh air,” Lisa says. “She’s a fantastic minister and a very good people person. It feels like all the threads are coming together.”

She says that the best part of her year as a deacon has been all the people she’s met.

“I love all our congregations, but it’s really about being out in the community, meeting everyday people who don’t necessarily go to church but who still have a faith and want to talk about it,” she says.

She recalls meeting one lady who was caring for a husband suffering with dementia and cancer.

“It’s all about those moments when you can sit and talk with people, when you can help them and maybe even change their lives,” she says.

As she looks forward to her priesting ceremony and her life of vocational responsibilities beyond that, she says she’s still rather awestruck by it all.

“It’s huge, isn’t it?” she says. “I’ve sometimes found the idea of being a priest overwhelming. I’m really looking forward to it but I’m also quite humbled by everything that it represents.”

Reverend Christopher Harrigan, Redruth

The first thing you need to know about the Reverend Christopher Harrigan is that he likes motorbikes.

The second thing you need to know about him is that he really likes motorbikes.

Following a successful career in architecture, Chris heeded his calling from God, bought himself a motorcycle, trained for the priesthood and was last year ordained as a deacon.

Since then, he’s served his curacy at St Andrew’s Church in Redruth and has ridden his bike around much of Cornwall.

As he prepares for his ordination as a full priest later this month, he’s just passed the test for his full motorbike licence and has upgraded to a Harley-Davidson.

“It feels like the year’s just whizzed by,” he says. “I can’t believe it’s a whole year. But there’s so much that’s happened. It’s really hard to quantify what I am now compared to what I was then.

“It’s been a year of revelation and growth. God has revealed to me a lot about who I am and about my calling. It’s been a year of learning.

“It feels a bit like surfing. I’m not doing the work so much as riding the wave.”

He says he’s very thankful for the support of his Rector, the Reverend Caspar Bush, and of his parishioners.

“It’s a bit weird, the deaconing,” he says. “You hold worship from the front of the church, and at the same time your congregation holds you. There’s a beauty in that shared response of worship.”

As he completes his journey from deacon to priest, he asks if he might use a motorcycle analogy to explain how he feels about this profound spiritual transition.

“I used to ride a 125. It was a more-than-adequate bike. It got me on the road. It did the job. It taught me the trials and tribulations of riding, the things you have to navigate. It was a gift from God, connecting me to the world in a way I’d never been connected before.

“But I’ve now got my full bike licence. Now I’m ready to be the best and fullest rider I can be. I can now go further, see more and do more. It’s like a fuller expression of what I was before. How I connect with the world has changed again.

“My Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750 is a raw and visceral machine. It’s unapologetic in its character. I like to think of it as an extension of my faith – which is unapologetic, raw and visceral too. And my faith has connected me to the world in ways that other things can’t.”

Reverend Rory Clare, Camborne

In a stark contrast to Chris, his fellow curate the Reverend Rory Clare’s no particular fan of motorbikes. But that didn’t stop him sending his wife series of pictures of himself trying out bikes and sports cars while he was supposed to be looking for an appropriate family runabout.

Originally from Lancashire, Rory came to Cornwall a year ago to take a position as a curate in Camborne.

He was accompanied by his wife Sarah and their children Dan, Sam, Lara and Henry – who range in age from eight years old to just ten months.

“We’ve been blessed,” Rory says. “They keep us busy and keep us on our toes. It turns out that children will expand to fill whatever space you’ve got for them!”

The highlight of the year was of course the birth of his youngest son.

“We’d just arrived and got settled when Henry was born,” he says. “It was a wonderful start to my curacy.”

Rory finds strong similarities between Camborne and his hometown near Wigan. Both were once thriving centres of industry that have fallen upon less prosperous times.

“The moment I came to Camborne it felt like I was home,” he says. “The accents are different but the people are very similar. I couldn’t have asked for a better curacy.”

He says he’s hugely grateful to his priest-in-charge at Camborne, the Reverend Rosheen Browning, and her team for their kindness and support over the course of the past year.

“They have so much experience to learn from,” he says.

He’s also very thankful for the support of his parishioners in the town and the surrounding villages, and of his peers across the Diocese – the cohort with whom he’s shared his first twelve months of ordained ministry.

“The year’s gone by in a flash,” he says. “But I feel I’ve been prepared for a priestly role very well.

“I’ve got some anxiety about my new role, but also a strong sense of the privilege of it. I still don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it.

“I’m really looking forward to serving Camborne in a priestly role. It feel like a real step up, and I’m very grateful for that.”

Reverend Jess Lancaster, Launceston

The first thing that the Reverend Jess Lancaster says is to ask is whether Rory was wearing his Indiana Jones hat.

“We call him Indy,” she laughs. “Thought I should say. Just in case he didn’t throw that one in.”

Last year’s cohort of deacons are clearly a closely knit group.

“I feel totally included,” Jess says. “I feel confident that if I had a bit of a meltdown and called anyone in our group, they’d have time for me and sort me out.”

Jess teaches English at Shebbear College on Devon and also serves as a curate in the Benefice of Launceston, where she works closely with Mother Alison Hardy, vicar for the benefice and Rural Dean for the Deanery of Trigg Major.

“She’s amazing – she’s fantastic” Jess says. “It’s the right place for me to be.”

Jess is originally from Hertfordshire. She and her family moved to Cornwall seven years ago. For her husband, whose own family are Cornish, it was a proper homecoming.

“He’s a Launceston boy,” she says.

Jess recalls that since the age of twenty she knew that she was being called to be ordained. At the time, though, it was a call which she resisted.

“I ran away,” she says. “I did all kinds of things. I was trying to avoid it. But you really can’t run away. God will get you in the end.”

She was ordained as a deacon a year ago. She looks back on the past twelve months with something of a sense of wonder.

“It’s been an incredible year,” she says. “It’s been such a blessing. The people in the benefice have welcomed me with open arms. They’ve been very generous and loving. And I’ve learned stacks.”

She’s now looking forward to her ‘priesting’ ceremony this month with some excitement.

“I’ve got a feeling things will be different afterwards, but I don’t know exactly how,” she says. “I’m excited to see how things will pan out.”

A little while ago, she’d been approached by a local family asking if she could perform a christening for them in May. As she wouldn’t have been fully ‘priested’ at the time, she’d had to decline.

Then, a bit later, the family had contacted her again. They’d had to reschedule until Sunday 25th June. The day after she’ll be ordained as a full priest.

“So, the day after my ordination, I’ll be performing my first baptism,” she smiles. “It’ll be beautiful. What a great way to start!”

Reverend Penny Leach, St Mawes

The Reverend Penny Leach was born in Kent and moved to Cornwall in 2019.

She has long-standing family connections with the Roseland peninsula to the southeast of Truro. Her parents, both sets of grandparents and her two brothers have all lived there.

It was as a child that she’d experienced her first moment of spiritual epiphany.

Her father and brothers had both sung in their parish church choir. Girls hadn’t been allowed in the choir at the time.

“But I used to trundle along with them,” she recalls. “One evensong, I was standing alone in the church when I had this sense of God calling me, saying I was supposed to be up there at the altar. But I never did anything about it – not then anyway.”

Instead, before at last coming to ordained ministry, she’d enjoyed successful academic career as a lecturer in law, spending the last quarter century of her working life at the University of Hertfordshire where she rose to become deputy head of the Law Faculty, and from which she retired nine years ago at the age of 60.

Encouraged by her priest, she’d then attended a local event for recruitment into ordained ministry in the Diocese of St Albans, but had been told she was too old.

When in 2018, after she’d moved to Cornwall to be back among her family and friends, she found herself discussing the prospect of priesthood with someone from the Diocese of Truro.

She’d said she’d thought she’d left it too late. “Well, you haven’t left it too late here,” she was told.

Last year, she was ordained as a deacon.

“It’s been an incredible year,” she says. “I feel I’ve become a completely different person over the course of the year. It’s been very transformational and very humbling in many ways.

“I’ve been amazed by the impact of wearing the dog collar. People just come up and talk to me in the street.”

She says she has felt drawn to her ministry in St Mawes, and is very grateful for the support of her training incumbent the Reverend Emma Durose in St Just, and of her local oversight minister in the Roseland peninsula, the Reverend Douglas Wren.

“Emma introduced me to such a wide range of ministry and was very supportive in that,” she says. “Douglas is really lovely, inspiring and perceptive. I’m full of gratitude that I’ve been given the opportunity to serve in the way I should have done many years ago – to finally answer the call properly.”

Now that she is about to be ordained as a full priest later this month, she says she’s immensely excited and somewhat awestruck.

“I’ve been thinking, ‘Really, Lord, do you think I’m up to this?’” she says. “But I’ve had a tremendous sense of God’s presence, particularly over the last few weeks, a sense of God walking with me.”

This year’s Petertide ordinations will take place at Truro Cathedral on 23rd and 24th June. At 7.30pm on Friday 23rd June, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, will ordain as deacons Mr David Smith and Mr Stephen Gufflick. At 10.30am on Saturday 24th June, the Rt Revd Hugh Nelson, Bishop of St Germans, will ordain as priests the Revd Rory Clare, the Revd Lisa Coupland, the Revd Christopher Harrigan, the Revd Jess Lancaster, the Revd Penelope Leach and the Revd Antony Naylor.