19 August 2012
A request from a dairy farmer for a blessing at the farm's new
milking parlour has resulted in the publication - via the CofE's
national rural office - of an informal service which celebrates the
importance of the dairy herd to the rural economy.
The Revd Shirley Small said she was approached by a farmer and
church member in the parish of Pontesbury, in Hereford diocese, for
an informal blessing service and she put together a dedicated
prayer and reflection along with a well known poem.
Local people and farm staff attended the service which included
special words of thanksgiving for "the working cows, the dry cows
and for the bulls and calves…. for the machines and the expertise
that has gone in to producing this new equipment - which takes some
of the toil out of the labour". The prayer also allows space
to name all the people working at the farm.
"I did some research when I was asked and discovered that
there was nothing like this officially so thought I'd put one
together, using liturgy from Seasonal Worship in the Countryside
(SPCK 2003) via the Arthur Rank centre website. Ministering to the
rural community here in Shropshire has always made me aware of the
importance of the land - I find many people of faith in the course
of my work, even if they are not regular churchgoers. The service
was very special as there is concern in our community about the
livelihood of farmers in the current dairy crisis*. I hope the
service will be of help to others and it can be used to bless any
parlour, not just a new one."
Dr Jill Hopkinson the CofE's National Rural Officer said: "This
lovely simple service shows God's presence in the heart of farming
and food production. It is also a testament to the dedication of
Shirley and so many rural parish priests who develop deep
relationships with rural people and the communities"
Details of the
full blessing service
Other ideas for
worship in rural areas
*Thousands of dairy farmers have joined protests to reverse price
cuts of up to 4p/litre from the major processing companies. The
protests have been carried out by a coalition of organisations
and have included blockades of milk plants and supermarket depots.
It costs approximately 30p/litre to produce milk and most producers
are being paid less than this.
Fairtrade begins with dairy farmers - Archbishop of
The Arthur Rank Centre
is the ecumenical churches' rural resources centre, based at
Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.