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The Power of Rural Ministry

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From hectares of cereals and beet combined with large numbers of poultry, pigs and an array of livestock, many of us will encounter the joys of rural communities in our ministry. The Revd Joshua Whitnall shares more:

Sadly, behind an often misunderstood industry lies a troubling increase in isolation, poor mental health, business breakdowns, ever changing public policy and suicide rates. The Farming Community Network (FCN), a third-sector charity based on Christian principles, offer support to members of the agricultural community across England and Wales. In March 2024 alone, they provided ongoing support to 373 cases of concern and received over 200 calls made to their helpline seeking support for issues they face in the sector.

In research commissioned by the FCN, three specific strategies for tackling loneliness are suggested: regular ‘getting off the farm’, talking with other farmers and building relationships with the local community. 

In this year of prophetic thinking, I believe the rural church is perfectly poised to offer support to farming communities, bringing hope and community to an industry that faces so many challenges. 

Through regular social gatherings, services around key agricultural times such as Plough Sunday and Rogationtide but most importantly, through getting to know your local farmers.

Taking the time to meet them, hear their worries, invite them (and perhaps even their animals and tractors) into church… but most importantly to be a friendly face, present in the community, to individuals who so often face isolation and loneliness.