CORNISH Anglicans have welcomed the news that the Cornish people
have been officially designated a national minority.
The announcement was made by the Chief Secretary to the
Treasury, Danny Alexander, last week. It means that the Government
must take Cornish interests into account in decision-making and
work to preserve Cornish culture.
A non-stipendiary minister at St Michael's, Newquay, the Revd
Jane Kneebone, said that she was delighted. "Although it won't
bring us any more money, it is recognition, and will give us
leverage when things come up in Westminster that have a bearing on
the situation in Cornwall," she said. "We are very proud to be
recognised - we have been campaigning for a long time." Mrs
Kneebone is a Cornish-speaker and chaplain to the Gorsedh Kernow, a
group of Cornish bards who promote the Celtic identity of
Mrs Kneebone said that between 20 and 80 people came to
Cornish-language services that she held across the diocese of
Truro. Although very few people spoke the language as a mother
tongue, Mrs Kneebone said, her services included worship and
sermons in Cornish, and that interest in them was growing all the
Enabling Cornish Christians to express their identity and faith
together was very important, she said. "Our services are for the
major festivals, and for the Cornish saints' days. The next service
coming up is on 11 May for the festival of St Michael the
Archangel, Protector of Cornwall."
Mrs Kneebone's sentiments were echoed by the Canon Chancellor of
Truro Cathedral, the Revd Perran Gay. He said: "I'm pleased. Many
of us in Cornwall, both natives and those who have moved in, feel a
special sense of distinctiveness. Yet, also being part of the
Church of England, we feel part of a wider family as well."
Canon Gay said that the cathedral organised occasional services
in Cornish, which were warmly received even by those who did not
speak the language. "It may be this encouragement from Westminster
will actually encourage a bit of thinking and speaking in
Cornwall has had its own diocese only since 1876, having
previously been part of the diocese of Exeter. Canon Gay said that,
despite a historic friction between the C of E and Cornish
Christianity, faith in the county was now deeply enmeshed with
"It's very important for the C of E to be proud of its Cornish
identity in Cornwall and to encourage that stream of tradition. We
are also keen to remember the distinctive saints down here.
"We now have Cornish wrestling, which happens on the grounds
outside the cathedral, and we are hoping to translate a Gospel into
Cornish, perhaps of John."
A fusion of Cornish spirituality and Anglicanism was part of Mrs
Kneebone's faith: "The Celtic spirituality movement is across
Christianity, and [although] it is not Anglican, I'm celebrating it
as a particular form of Anglicanism."
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