Tending the flock, literally
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