Blog, April 21st

The Good Shepherd at the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy. – photo © José Luiz

Good Shepherd Sunday – Leadership

The gospel reading this week is really worth pondering and praying as the Penlee Cluster begins the process of discernment in looking for new priests and this diocese looks to find a new Bishop.

The Gospel reading is challenging but very clear.  I wonder what you make of the reading?

Bible readings for this week Acts 4:5-12   John 10: 11-18

We continue our journey through Eastertide, experiencing the joy of the Risen Lord.  This fourth Sunday of Easter traditionally features Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

In the Gospel, Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd, who is prepared to lay down his life for us; he knows us intimately and wants to bring everyone into his fold.  Pondering leadership qualities Jesus’s words highlight the stark difference between good and bad leadership.

I am the good shepherd’: In Greek there are two words for ‘good’. The first is agathos, used in regard to morality.  Then there is kalos, the word used by John to describe Jesus as the ‘good’ shepherd. There is a deeper meaning intended here which is sometimes translated as ‘lovely’ or ‘beautiful’.

I know my own’: A shepherd was totally responsible for the sheep. If anything happened to them, the law required that he should produce evidence that it was not his fault. He would display great courage in protecting his flock.

A real shepherd would have been sent out with the flock when very young. The sheep got to know him and he them.  In John’s Gospel, ‘knowing’ Jesus means having a personal relationship with him.  I wonder how a new bishop or priest might deeply get to know and live amongst the people they are called to serve.

‘The hired man’: For the hired man, shepherding was not so much a way of life as a means of making money. In the parable, the ‘flock’ is the ‘Church of Christ’, which comes under attack from outside influences.  It becomes even more vulnerable if led by ‘hirelings’ who put their welfare first.

Wolves were a real threat to the flock and Jesus used this fact as a metaphor to warn his disciples of the dangers they faced as he sent them out to do his work.  They would be ‘… as sheep amongst wolves’ (Matthew 10: 16).

‘I lay down my life for the sheep’: The imagery of good and bad shepherds dates as far back as the prophet Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 34). St John, in quoting Jesus, also differentiates between types of shepherd, but adds a further dimension to his description.  It was a new thing in scripture to say that the good shepherd would ‘lay down his life’ for his sheep.  How might a bishop or priest live this out in Cornwall ?

I have other sheep that are not of this fold’: God’s love was not limited to Israel but was for all people.  This will bring about a fulfilment of the prophecies from Isaiah (42: 6 and 49: 6) ‘I will make you the light of the nation.’   An inclusive leader…there for everyone.

Jesus, the good shepherd in the tympanum of the Evangelical Church of Peace in Hanau, Kesselstadt.

Morning prayer

Each weekday morning a number of people meet at 8am on zoom to pray.  We use a simple form of worship written by the Iona community in Scotland.  Using the appointed bible readings of the day also reminds us that we are part of a wider church…all listening to the same readings.  Then we offer up informal prayers: praying for the needs of the world, our communities and people who we have encountered. 

Morning prayer lasts about half an hour.  Some people join us each day.  Others from time to time.  It is a very supportive group…quite a community….which has a sense of belonging.  As the morning prayer is on zoom people are able to join us when they are away from home, or travelling.  Joining in from Paddington Station after travelling up on the night train always feels special.  Some people have continued to join us from their hospital bed….a real witness and a real support.

So why not join us from time to time….especially as we begin this time of clergy vacancy here in Penlee Cluster…..and also at a time when much prayer is needed in our very fractured world?

Welcome to our new Headteacher: Helen Kershaw

On Tuesday 23rd April at 9.30am our new Head Teacher of our church schools will be welcomed at the post Easter school service at St Mary’s Church in Penzance.  The theme of the service is “hope”. And we will be starting the process of growing sunflowers of hope.  You may want to write your hope for the future on a leaf that you have created so that it can be placed on the sunflower stem!

More importantly, we do hope that you will join us to welcome Helen into our community and pray for her as she takes up her new post.

St Peter’s Church Newlyn

Various electrical firms have now visited the church to quote and draw up plans for a complete new electrical and lighting re-wiring. We look forward to this work being completed in the near future.

Communication: St Peter’s now has a beautifully positioned notice board to advertise all their events and work.  We look forward to attracting more people to events…but of course, your personal invitations are still the best!

Churches Together in Penzance Area

Open Doors Service, at High St Methodist Church on Sunday 28th April at 2:30pm. 
Focusing on the latest news of the persecuted Christians all over the world
Speaker:- Roger Dell’Ebra, Open Doors representative for Cornwall

Going Green

Penny at St Mary’s has now found a much cheaper brand of recycled toilet paper, so this will now be used in both St Mary’s and St John’s Church…and hopefully in the other Cluster churches too. You might consider switching to “green “  loo paper at home.  It really helps us look after our God-given world.

Junior church at St Mary’s Pz: 11 am each Sunday.

With the increasing number of youngsters in church on Sundays we are going to restart the pattern of children going out to junior church after the first hymn/ song of Sunday church worship. They will then rejoin the rest of the church for communion and the final hymn.  Please encourage more families to join us.  Please also consider taking your turn on the rota for helping with junior church…it will be fun.

Penlee Cluster Intercession Group

We should seek not so much to pray but to become prayer.

Pray for all awaiting medical tests, results or surgery and for those supporting them.  For those living with limiting illnesses; for all struggling with their mental health; for those with increased memory loss and for all who walk beside them.

Cornish Giving Catalogue

We have received a donation from the Christmas Giving catalogue of £200 for use at the playzone.  It is always most welcome to get such a gift so that we can develop work with families and young people at St John’s church.  It was one of the first Penlee Cluster projects and has been supported by people from the cluster for almost 10 years.  There will be a 10th anniversary Playzone birthday celebration in May.  We do hope that you will all come to give thanks for all the work and fun that has happened there over the years.

Peal of Bells Saturday April 27th

A peal is a non-stop sequence of a minimum of 5,000 changes where each sequence is different and cannot be repeated.

Paul Feast and friends will be attempting to ring a full peal at Paul church starting at 10am and if successful, concluding at 1pm.  For the campanologists among you they will be ringing Stedman Doubles.  For the rest of you, you have been warned!

NightChurch gift.

It was so good to receive a donation of £126 from Escolls chapel. They wanted to make a contribution to the work that NightChurch is engaged in. Wednesday NightChurch always values offers of food that are generously brought in….

Hilfield Retreat

A group from the Penlee Cluster joined Cornish third order Franciscans on retreat.

Hilfield Friary in Dorset is home to a small community of Franciscan friars and a number of others who help in the running of the house and farm whilst sharing in the common life of the brothers. This life is undergirded with the rhythm of daily prayer in the simple Chapel and communal meals in the Refectory.

 Our group’s theme was JOY, especially Easter joy.  We thought about what it was like for the disciples during their roller-coaster ride from Palm Sunday to Easter Day and beyond.  They struggled to make sense of the events and their emotional turmoil.  But gradually the fog and gloom gave way to wobbly hope then deep joy, as once more they enjoyed the reality of the presence of Jesus among them.

 We pondered what joy means to us and when and where we especially experienced it.  We thought about our Easter celebrations and our favourite Easter hymns.  Next, we remembered the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  They found ‘their hearts burned within them’ when the newcomer made sense of the devastating events of previous days in the light of familiar words from the Prophets, yet it was only when he broke the bread at their table that the light dawned, and they knew it was Jesus!

 Finally, we remembered the stranger on the shore telling the disciples to ‘fish on the other side of the boat’ – inviting them to see things differently and change direction in order to see new things happen.  He invited them to bring some fish to the breakfast he was preparing and then they knew it was Jesus.  He invites us too to bring what we have to the table, so that others might share it and be blessed.  As we read Jesus’s question to Peter we closed our retreat with each of us asking one other person, around the circle by name: ‘Do you love me?’  And when she replied ‘’Yes Lord, you know that I love you!’ the words ‘Feed my sheep!’ gave us our commission.  This was a powerful new call to see differently and to share God’s love with all those we meet – then we went outside and sang ‘You shall go out with joy and be led forth in peace’ before going our separate ways. – Lesley

‘I reached Hilfiled Friary late on the Wednesday night, following a slightly hairy trip through what looked like farmland, with our upbeat and motivational navigator who later confessed to struggling with knowing her left from her right! The theme of the retreat was ‘joy’, and although, as driver, Sian’s laughs were closer to the hysterical than the joyful, we laughed all the same. 

Although I was only there for one full day, Hilfield was a tonic. I loved wandering round the allotments and the meditative ‘Canticle Garden’; a herb garden based on St Francis’ Canticle of the Sun, also known as The Canticle of the Creatures. I have been inspired to create something similar on my own allotment, and perhaps for the Cluster – watch this space for the plan for St John’s.

I found attending the daily offices really helped my connection with God, and again was inspired to say compline at St Mary’s once or twice a week, even if only by myself

My time at Hilfield has also cemented my calling to follow St Francis by joining the Third Order. I’m not sure if it’s coincidence, but since the retreat I’ve had dreams of three owls, a screaming rain frog, a rabbit in my coat and a mouse asleep on my shoulder. Perhaps NightChurch will buy some goldfish…” – Alice

Julian Meeting Sunday at 6pm on Zoom

Julian said: ‘The greatest honour we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.  God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.  He said not that thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be distressed but he said: thou shalt not be overcome.  And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’
Zoom link


The 2023 Challenge Poverty Week (CPW) Report is now available on line at Challenge-Poverty-Week-Report-October-2023-B-min.pdf (

The report includes a record of the significant CPW Conference held at St Michael’s Newquay with summaries of contributors such as the VIVA group with their poems drawn from their lived experience and Simon Fann of Truro Foodbank calling for a campaign to make Cornwall a Real Living Wage Place.  You can also read about many of the community groups who work so hard to reduce the impact that the cost of living crisis is having on so many people including some very local to the Penlee Cluster area.

We hope the Report will act as a platform to inspire further action to challenge poverty and its causes.

Real Living Wage Place 2023 research estimates there were 60,000 workers in Cornwall earning less than £12 per hour, including 20% of male part-time workers and 40% of female part-time workers. Yet so many private, public and third sector organisations see real benefits accrue to the company, not just the staff, from making the commitments recommended by the Living Wage Foundation.  So why would anyone not want to see Cornwall become a Living Wage Place where employers are urged to pay the real living wage?  CIPF have launched the Community Manifesto in the lead up to the General Election. – Andrew Yates

We are asking people across Cornwall to submit ideas which they think will help make Cornwall a fairer and more just place to live. We will especially value contributions from people with lived experience of poverty or social exclusion.  If you have a specific proposal please email it to



A musical journey, with music.
Tuesday May 7th   

Boilerhouse @ Geevor

Anyone who has heard Boilerhouse sing will want to be at any future event where they’re appearing. We hope to hear something of their musical backgrounds, both individually and as a group, and they promise to share some music with us too.
£5 entry. Nibbles/wine @ 7pm, talk @ 7.30pm, followed by debate and more nibbles/wine.

Other Articles;

Memory Café

United Nations Climate Change conference in the United Arab Emirates

Care for Creation

We want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth.

More Information;

St Mary’s CofE

A happy Church of England School in a stunning location with an entrance directly off Penzance Prom.

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