Curriculum Kernewek

Cornwall Agreed Syllabus 2011

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+ Guide to Free Church and House Church Movements

Free Church is the term given to Christian denominations that are free from government or state rule. As Protestantism developed in Britain, differences of belief and practices led to the creation of a variety of groups. When the Act of Uniformity enforced attendance to the Church of England, members of Free Churches like Quakers and Baptists risked fines, imprisonment and accusations of treason to practise their faith.

The Religious Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, was established by George Fox in the mid 1600's. Fox visited Cornwall on several occasions and gained followers including Loveday Hambly, of Tregongreeves, whose home became a centre for Quaker gatherings in the region. Fox was unwelcome in St Ives and was arrested and held in Launceston Gaol for a time. Cornish Quakers endured much persecution until 1689, when the opening of meeting houses was legalised. Quakers believe that each individual can have a personal relationship with God and can rely on this relationship to guide and sustain them rather than a formal creed or set of rules.

In the early C17th, a group of Christians who believed that baptism should be carried out on believing adults, not children, founded the Baptist Church. The number of Baptists in Cornwall grew significantly, as a result of a series of Baptist missions between 1796 and 1802. Baptist leaders toured Cornwall preaching to large crowds of people near mine workings, in barns and in the streets. By 1851 there were over three and a half thousand Baptists in Cornwall.

John Wesley and Charles Wesley had a profound impact on the religious landscape of Cornwall and their work resulted in, and influenced, many non-conformist groups. They visited Cornwall numerous times between 1743 and 1789 and were initially met with resistance from the established Church. The brothers travelled tirelessly to towns and villages, particularly mining and fishing communities with reputations for drunkenness, rough behaviour and poverty, and gained a reputation for preaching in people's homes, in barns and the open air. After the death of John Wesley, Wesleyan Methodism formally separated from the Church of England and the independent-minded nature of Methodist members soon led to splits within Methodism itself and the creation of new groups. Through the efforts of these groups, Methodism spread like wildfire and by 1851, 32% of the population (113,520) identified themselves as Methodists. Methodist Chapels remain the hub of many communities, although in recent times some chapels have been closed or converted to other uses.

There are several United Reform Churches in Cornwall, with a 'Congregational approach' whereby members make decisions (by means of a majority vote) regarding the direction of the local church. In 1972, Congregational and Presbyterian churches joined to form the United Reformed Church, but some Cornish Congregational churches have remained outside this union. Congregational church meetings were held from the 1660s in Penzance, Falmouth, St Ives and Looe, and later spread throughout Cornwall.

There are several United Reform Churches in Cornwall, with a 'Congregational approach' whereby members make decisions (by means of a majority vote) regarding the direction of the local church. In 1972, Congregational and Presbyterian churches joined to form the United Reformed Church, but some Cornish Congregational churches have remained outside this union. Congregational church meetings were held from the 1660s in Penzance, Falmouth, St Ives and Looe, and later spread throughout Cornwall.

A few years before establishing the Salvation Army in 1865, its founder, William Booth spent eighteen months in Hayle undertaking 'mission' work within the community. As well as evangelising, Booth maintained the importance of helping the needy and this work continues in Cornwall today through Salvation Army Churches (Corps) and social work centres across Cornwall. Members of the Salvation Army are motivated to lead people into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, actively serve the community, and fight for social justice.

Unitarians reject the doctrine of the Trinity and maintain other differences from other denominations. A Unitarian Chapel was established in Falmouth in 1840.

Although Plymouth Brethren originated elsewhere the meetings of the Brethren were so well attended in Plymouth that they became known as "the brethren from Plymouth". A Plymouth Brethren Chapel and burial ground was in use in Callington circa 1862.

'House Church Movement' is a term used to describe the gatherings of Christians in their own homes. Many independent and informal Christian meetings are held in homes across Cornwall and they tend to be self-governing, avoid hierarchy and aim to echo the type of meetings held by Jesus as described in the New Testament. A decline in the attendance figures of traditional churches during the C20th, has been attributed, by some, to the growth of the House Church Movement. Some House Churches have expanded and grouped together to take over redundant chapels, becoming Evangelical Free Churches.

There are a number of evangelical and charismatic churches in Cornwall, some are independent whilst others represent or are affiliated to international organisations. They include:

+ Shekinah Christian Church is a charismatic church in Penzance.

+ Elim Pentecostal Churches was established by Welshman, George Jeffreys in 1934. A number of charismatic churches in Cornwall are members of the Elim network including The Vine St Ives, Newquay Christian Centre and Bude Christian Fellowship.

+ Assemblies of God is a Pentecostal movement made up of around 600 churches throughout Great Britain. In Cornwall these include Bethel Pentecostal Church in Redruth, Mid Cornwall Christian Church in Nanpean, Greenbank Community Church in Liskeard, Souls Harbour Church in Camelford, Launceston Community Church, and New Life Churches in Falmouth, Perranporth and Bodmin.

+ Grapevine Church in Illogan is a community church that grew out of a house church.

+ Apostolic Church Porthleven is a Bible Believing/Evangelical/Pentecostal Church, part of the Apostolic Church UK, which was formed as a result of the Welsh Revival.

+ Reformed Baptist Churches include Falmouth and Tuckingmill.