Blessing for a milk parlour
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 http://www.nfuonline.com/News/Dairy-campaign-strategy-agreed/ 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.
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The Arthur Rank Centre is the ecumenical churches' rural resources centre, based at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.