29 Aug 2019
A reflection on the importance of Agricultural Chaplaincy.
An article from Canon Peter Lawrence who has recently retired from his role as Chaplain to Worcester Livestock Market after many years of listening and sharing the concerns of the livestock farming community.
A typical market day… Lot after lot of lambs are sold at Worcester Livestock Market. Buyers feel the sheep, make a bid or two, then leave it to someone else. The crowd, farmers, sales reps, farm families and others move slowly along the lines of sheep pens watching, chatting, talking on their phones, or from time to time cracking a joke or making a confidence. Market staff usher the sheep from pen to lorry, prepare the old ewes for sale and watch the cattle to be sold in the ring later.
As a Chaplain, it took a while to exchange comment, ideas, talk about the Christian charity that helps farmers, Farming Community Network (FCN.org.uk), or follow up someone’s concern or joy. Being a Chaplain in a Livestock Market takes understanding of farmers’ lives, their passion for their work, their concerns, friendships and caution for folk they don’t trust.
There is a surprise that a Christian is bothered to spend time at a market. There to listen; not be judgemental – and to come back for more, a week or month later.
Farmers love their work (most of the time). They hit problems and their life is often lonely, in a field, working the tractor, milking, or struggling with the paperwork. But it is a way of life rather than a “job”.
A market is the chance to trade, meet friends, keep up on developments over crops, animals, regulations – or even meet a chaplain. That’s why it’s important that God’s concern, love and hope is brought to the workplace that is a Livestock Market.