Cornwall Saints Uprising

Before I left for a Cornwall ‘holiday with a purpose’ two people with a purpose called in. They are Margaret and Richard Pederson. They moved to Morebattle, on the Saint Cuthbert’s Way route, which has until recently offered little to pilgrims. Now they have started a café in the church, a co-operative in the village which may enable walkers to find a shop open, and provide advice on local accommodation. When a Scandinavian CA&H group walked the Way they invited them to lead prayers and worship. Margaret hopes to be ordained. Do contact them if you are that way.

I managed the long drive to Martin and Penny Warren’s holiday cottage on the border with Cornwall by stopping overnight. On Thursday Penny and Martin drove me to a meal with a church leader and businessman who is interested in our Way of Life. On Friday Penny brought my sister Sally from Exeter airport. On Saturday the Devon Community of Aidan and Hilda group met at Shebbear. They meet in the Rectory among the goats, chickens and dog to celebrate each of the four seasons. I told how the first Dark Age was turned into a Golden Age through grass roots monastic communities, and suggested that a new Dark Age that threatens the world can be transformed by new monastic movements under God. On Sunday Sally and I met Community friends at Morwenstow parish church, and explored the nearby shore where Saint Morwenna lived as a hermit. On Monday the four of us drove to Truro to meet with an embryo Cornwall group at the home of Johanna and John Clare. What follows is a reflection inspired by our meeting:

A new Cornwall resident entered a church and saw this sign: ‘Saint Augustine brought Christianity to Cornwall in 597’. She thought of all the Christians from the lands we know as Wales, Ireland and France who brought the Gospel and lived it gloriously in Cornwall before this. ‘We must honour and recover what went before’ she pledged. She is one of growing numbers who want to do that, and even more important, to live gloriously a faith that is ever old and ever new.

So that story is a parable for us all. We want to hold to authenticity. There is no room in the modern world for forms of religion that patronise or oppress indigenous peoples and are insensitive to local heritage. But neither do we wish to hold to nostalgia. We asked what faith practices can connect us both with authentic roots and life-giving spirituality today? We know those early Christians lived a rhythm of prayer and work. We will live this too. Our link with the saints can be a Way of Life: roots, rhythms, relationships.

After years of neglect Cornwall shows signs of material re-vitalisation. Money is invested in new projects. The Eden Project has made it famous on the ecological front. Students throng to Falmouth and Truro. Cornwall is now a Unitary Authority within Britain. The best way to sustain such developments is through spiritual re-vitalisation: a way of following Jesus that re-connects us with God in the saints and the seasons, the Scriptures and the soil, the struggles and society.

Posted at 07:06am on 12th May 2016
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