Cluster Annual Report 2024

Clergy Report

What an incredibly inspiring and diverse year we have had as a cluster of churches in the far west of Cornwall: Penlee cluster. As four Anglican churches overlooking St Michael Mount we have worked organically and collaboratively for the last 11years. “Reaching out Together” into the communities of which we are a part. Seeing the face of Christ in all as we serve and learning from the most vulnerable in our communities.  However, each church has also maintained their autonomy and sense of their uniqueness.   Thanks to all who have travelled with us over this special journey.

New Web Site:

This year we took the bold steps of reviewing and redesigning our website. The website is the “shop window “of the church and is particularly used by people who are coming to the area or want to know more about the mission, life and work of out worshipping communities. The web site was first set up over 10 years ago when we won the diocesan “bishop’s den” award for innovation. This new site helped us to work together and think about our priorities for today.  I commend this website to you and suggest that you view the very informative weekly blog.

Visit to Taunton and Bristol: Halo heating: eco church

The Church of England has set an ambitious target of becoming Carbon Net Zero by 2030. For most churches this will involve electrical heating supplied by a green supplier. A minibus of members from the Cluster churches – ably driven by Captain Mike who handled the bus as well as the bulk carriers he navigated around the world – went to inspect a new design of heating for churches. The heating provides a radiant heat which heats the objects -usually people- and not the space. This means it does not need the long lead in time that other systems require. Appropriately for churches it is called ‘halo’ heating and looks like a series of chandeliers All those on the visit came away impressed and St Mary’s is in the process of getting them installed. Faculty achieved and being selected to be one of just two Demonstrator Projects in our Diocese along with fund raising and generous donations means this should happen soon!

Inclusive church:

Paul church has now become the first Anglican Church in the Truro diocese to affiliate to the Inclusive Church network. Many people who have had poor experiences of church in the past look at that national site to see if that church is sympathetic to their needs. All our churches are living out an inclusive philosophy: a “bigger table” belief which includes all people. This was very much lived out at St Mary’s church on Christmas Day with a Christmas lunch to which anyone is welcome to turn up to eat and to have company of others.

Holiday clubs:

Once again, we have been able to offer holiday clubs for children in the summer, Easter and Christmas holidays. We work with a wide range of youngsters and are also able to offer support to families who a struggling for a wide variety of reasons. Children engage in a range of activities and trips and experiences outside Penzance happen throughout each week. We believe that our church needs to explore a wide variety of opportunities. Breakfast and lunch are provided daily and are cooked on site. Although we get some grants from the county these clubs are very expensive to run and so are very grateful for your generous donations, offers of help and home baked cakes.  We really appreciate your support especially in enabling clergy to have to time to spend quality time with youngsters during holiday periods.

We also thank the family workers, all those who work with us seasonally and those who come as volunteers for their support and commitment.

Wild Meadow project at Paul has now set up a dedicated outdoor space in the meadow to engage with youngsters. We thank Pam and Margaret for the use of this space alongside the generous finding from the St Paul’s trust.

This project, alongside the next steps for a new sensory area inside and outside St John’s helps everyone to look towards the future. The Playzone creation itself celebrates 10 years this year: a remarkable achievement of a generation of work alongside our families, schools and young people.

First Aid courses:

This year saw a fair number of people qualifying in an advanced first aid course and paediatric first aid. This was part of our deep caring for the wellbeing of people who visit us. This is also true of people’s participation on courses such as domestic abuse awareness, mental health courses and safeguarding training. All so important in outward facing churches.

Digital giving:

We have been trialing a variety of digital giving devices in our churches. Although these systems have been partially successful for regular worshippers and other church activities it has not brought much extra income in from the many visitors who come in. Digital giving will need to be looked at very carefully next year by all PCCs.

Eco Church: 

There have been various initiatives across the cluster under the eco church banner.
St Peter’s are taking advice from George Dow who is co/chair of Green Christian to undertake an audit and action plan.
St Pol de Leon held another popular Nearly New sale which saw lots of recycling and have planted a Community Orchard in a closed churchyard.

St John’s are exploring the halo heating system so they will be heated with renewable energy and St Mary’s are getting close to the Gold Eco Church award. 

Christmas Angel project:

When the very sad situation broke out in Gaza it was very evident that we needed not only to pray for the situation but also to think very carefully about materials and worship surrounding Christmas. How does anyone sing, “O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie” when so much tension and uncertainty surrounded the Holy Land.  So we worked with a variety of people including some local artists and came up with “the Christmas angel project”.

The project encouraged us to contact people we knew from across the world and ask for messages and prayers of peace. Finding ways to talk about and visually display messages of peace helped to refocus and think more deeply about the birth of the prince of peace. Seeds of hope were sown, and we found ways of identifying with people living in war torn areas.

NightChurchPZ

This year has seen the start of a new project: NightchurchPZ. This project, which has taken a long time in coming about, meets people where they are in dark places. We thank God that he has sent Alice to us. For her drive, enthusiasm and total commitment to those who find themselves on the edges. Night church takes place each Wednesday evening and until 3am on a Saturday once a month.  It is also good to work with the Salvation Army on this piece of work and not forgetting those who have paved the way for this project through Street pastors. An amazing piece of work and such a wonderful thing to experience.

Cluster Worship:

Once again we have worshipped across the cluster area and in all the churches throughout the year. It is always quite a privilege and uplifting to worship together and often to eat a meal together after worship.

Of course, people also come to pray every morning on zoom: Celtic morning prayer in which we pray for the needs of our area and reflect on the bible readings of the day. Praying with people each day has also been very supportive of your clergy especially during this very challenging time. We thank you for your prayers and gift of time.

Each Sunday evening there is also an online Julian group and weekly an intercession list is circulated.  People send in prayer requests and there is a strong intercession group.

24 hour Prayer spaces St Michael and all angels event was also a very powerful witness this year as was the yearly Good Friday pilgrimage around our cluster churches>

All our activities are sustained by a deeply rooted and imbedded prayer life.

Pastoral ministers:

Each of the churches have a team of pastoral ministers and we are grateful for the care and commitment they offer through this important ministry. The emphasis of each team varies slightly in each church. 

In one there is a focus on watching out for people who are normally regular attenders but who have not joined in for a few months and this will lead to a phone call to check all is well

In another where there are a lot of visitors the focus is on ensuring there is a good welcome. In other places those visitors can include people with complex issues and so regular training and mutual support are vital.

Worship Leaders:

 We are extremely grateful to the growing number of people who have offered their time and talents to lead worship in our churches.  This is going to be especially important as we head into an interregnum as it means we can continue to guarantee weekly worship in all the churches even when it is not possible to find a priest to cover a particular occasion. Worship leaders are not trained or allowed to preach but can offer a reflection on the readings and there are helpful websites for them to draw on for this purpose.

Quiet Garden Worship:

 Paul began to worship outdoors during the Covid pandemic and have continued to hold services in the Quiet Garden on a monthly basis – always blessed with glorious sunshine.

Last year this included baptisms with a symbolic walking to the font via the labyrinth representing our life journey.

We celebrated Churchyard Nature Count Sunday with a focus on lichen and congratulation members were sent off to find the most spectacular lichen they could find. And being Trinity Sunday there was even a sermon from the biology of lichen which in fact consists of two organisms living in harmony as a visual aid to match St Patrick’s Clover Leaf!  Worship outdoors certainly opens up new experiences of the Divine.

Work with schools:

This past year saw the retirement of Hilary Tyreman from being head teacher of St Mary’s and Madron school. We are hugely grateful for all she has done in her roles as educator and school leader. We are grateful too for her commitment to building such a strong link between the schools and cluster churches. 

Elsewhere all the churches have supported engagement with children and young people and families. Examples include the experiential activities that are now held at St Peter’s; the many events based at St John’s Playzone such as Who let the Dads Out; the popular Feast Nights for Families organised by Paul and the moving acts of worship led by the school in St Mary’s. We have continued to offer RE Days to supplement the school curriculum with visits to churches for themed activities and these are always supported by church members. 

Finally:

So we thank you all for all the many ways that you have all served your communities and God this amazing year. For all who give unstinting of their time and talents. People who are prepared to offer hospitality to others and make our church spaces a place to prayer, to eat and be valued. Thank you to people who hold positions of responsibility in our church community and for those of you who have not given up hope in challenging times knowing deeply that we see the image of Christ in all people and that all are totally valued by God.

We offer you our blessings and prayers as you journey on in faith and prepare to write the next chapter of your church and community story.

“And all will be well”, “all manner of things shall be well”: this is the final message that Julian of Norwich gives  to us and that we are offering to you this coming year.

Sian and Andrew Yates.

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