Tend­ing the flock, lit­er­ally

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

THE Dio­ce­ses of Can­ter­bury and Chich­ester have com­mis­sioned a chap­lain to min­is­ter to his flock at the live­stock mar­kets, agri­cul­tural shows and plough­ing matches of Kent and East Sus­sex. The Rev Chris Hodgkins, who at­tended agri­cul­tural col­lege and was an as­sis­tant herds­man be­fore join­ing the Church, is the first to hold the po­si­tion of Ru­ral Busi­ness Chap­lain. It’s been set up by the two Angli­can dio­ce­ses and the Farm­ing Com­mu­nity Network (FCN) to fill the gap left by the clo­sure of ru­ral pubs, shops and schools.

The Rev Hodgkins will visit agri­cul­tural events to of­fer spir­i­tual sup­port and prac­ti­cal ad­vice about ser­vices avail­able to farm­ing fam­i­lies. He ex­plains: ‘I ex­pe­ri­enced ill-health, which meant I could no longer work in agri­cul­ture. I re­mem­ber not want­ing to talk to any­one about how I was feel­ing, so I fully ap­pre­ci­ate the need for a post like this… to sup­port ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties that are very iso­lated.

‘Sim­i­lar threats are ex­pe­ri­enced by the ru­ral church and the com­mu­ni­ties it serves, as we face changes in tech­nol­ogy and the de­cline of ser­vices. I want to of­fer a chan­nel through which con­cerns and ideas can be ex­pressed to those shap­ing the lo­cal, re­gional and na­tional agen­das.’ Char­lotte Cooper

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