statement by the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro
friends, I’m sharing this message today not just with the clergy and
people of the Diocese of Truro, but with everyone here in Cornwall at
what is a very challenging time for us all.
be aware of how much has changed in just a few short days. By now you will
probably have heard too the call of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to
suspend public worship for a season. That will come as a shock and challenge to
many of you, but in the circumstances, and following the best medical advice,
I’m sure it’s right.
I want to say very clearly to you that does not mean the Church is shutting up
shop! Far from it. Now is the time for the Church of God to rise to this great
challenge of our times. I cannot help but feel that this crisis challenges us
deeply to be just the kind of Church our God is a calling us to be.
I believe too that that this crisis challenges Cornwall to be its very best: to
express in heart and soul the spirit of One and All.
to us all in Cornwall I would say – let us be the very best we can be. This is
the opportunity we all have to shine, to be our better selves. It’s a great
challenge: but let’s rise to it.
if you are feeling isolated and fearful, remember you are not alone. There are
many people standing by you, even if you can’t see them – and our God has not
changed: he remains good and faithful and we can trust him and rely upon him.
He won’t let us down.
if you’re working in the public services, our NHS, the emergency services and
the caring professions, planning and working to respond in the best way
possible to the many challenges we face and who may be very stretched in the
days to come: do know that we are cheering you on. We’re deeply thankful for
you and are praying for you – and for your families too.
the Church – whilst our pattern of worship will change significantly I
think our church buildings need to be more open, not less, providing space for
people to come and pray and be and socially interact (at an appropriate
distance of course). We should use digital media creatively wherever we can and
we are working on identifying a few churches in the diocese where live
streaming of worship might be possible.
we need to be the feet on the ground in our communities – identifying those who
are lonely and isolated, fearful and grieving and doing all we can, within the
constraints that are placed up on us, and without exposing people to
unnecessary risk, to show in word and in deed the love of Christ.
there will be others who will find these times very challenging economically:
again we need to do all we can to meet their needs. Let’s keep the foodbanks
well stocked up.
for us as a church this will not be business as usual. But it will NOT be no
business, it will be ‘business unusual’. We’ll still be about the business of
the Kingdom of God, but in new, different, committed, creative and deeply
big question this crisis asks of us as a Church is this: will we meet its
challenge to love and serve and give as Jesus did, for we are nothing less than
his Body here on earth? I pray we will and will not be found wanting at this
great hour of need.
to all of us I would say, across Cornwall, in this crisis, let’s be people of
prayer. This crisis is bigger than any of us. But God is greater. So we need
not be fearful – in the end we can be people of hope, as we become people of
prayer: because there is a good future for us, beyond this, a good future that
God holds out for us all.
as this virus is no respecter of borders, I’m going to close with a prayer
written by our neighbour, Bishop Robert, Bishop of Exeter. If you’d like to, do
pray with me now:
us good Lord under the shadow of your mercy, in this time of uncertainty and
distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are
brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort, knowing that nothing can
separate us from your love in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
may God bless us all.