Agricultural and rural chaplaincy seeks to support and engage with those involved in farming, rural businesses, tourism and rural life. It requires an understanding of the structures of the agricultural industry and an appreciation of the particular pressures and challenges farmers face.

The chaplain also needs to empathise with the values and ethos of life in rural communities, identifying and engaging with the range of prevailing issues. There is a bridging role to be developed between the churches and rural businesses and organisations, for mutual benefit and to inform and enable the churches’ mission.

An obvious point of contact is the local livestock market, where a long-term and consistent presence is required on the part of the chaplain to build up pastoral relationships and trust.

This video from Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy gives an insight into agricultural chaplaincy.

Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy describes agricultural chaplains as people with a pastoral heart and a commitment to the land-based sector. Their motivation arises from their Christian faith, but they are expected to exercise that faith with discretion and integrity. There may be times when it is appropriate to talk about faith or to pray with someone, but the essential requirements of a chaplain are attentive listening and pastoral sensitivity.

They do this by

  • listening to the concerns of the farming community and voicing the needs of rural communities
  • having a significant presence at agricultural gatherings
  • raising awareness of Rural Chaplaincy
  • providing support through farm and home visits.

"Farming has seen some tough times over the years and farmers have a reputation for resilience in the face of adversity. However, even the most efficient farmer continues to face costs of production which are higher than farm gate prices. Add to this rural isolation and extremely long working hours and farmers of all ages are at higher risk of depression and suicide. Agricultural chaplaincy aims to visibly be ‘church’ and an authentic Christian presence in the lives of all those working in agriculture." (Derbyshire Agricultural Chaplaincy)

What do agricultural chaplains do?

  • attend livestock markets and agricultural shows to be a Christian presence in the spaces where farmers and traders gather
  • proactively travel to farms to see farmers in their place of work
  • visit care homes to meet retired farmers in care
  • work with other support agencies such as the Farming Community Network (FCN), The Farming Life Centre, Rural Health Teams, the Addington Fund, The Royal Agricultural Benevolence Institution, the Rural Church, and other voluntary and statutory organisations to provide holistic help
  • provide a listening ear and practical support during challenging times
  • organise special worship services and support other key farming services

What's it like being an agricultural chaplain?

Revd Phil Jackson

Being an agricultural chaplain means I get to ride a tractor! OK, for someone born in a city, sadly this is not quite the case, but agricultural chaplaincy does mean that I get to spend time with people who are at the heart of shaping the most beautiful parts of the countryside and responsible for putting food on our tables.  It means I get to learn from some of the most dedicated and hard working people that I have ever met and also means I get to drink coffee with some of the wisest and funniest people around. 

As an agricultural chaplain I spend a lot of time at the Auction mart rather than on the farm.  In the same way that many people come to church for fellowship and to be in the presence of God, so the auction mart is often the farmers one source of fellowship week by week. In trying to embody the incarnate Christ amongst them, they not only receive socially in that space but also spiritually. It is primarily a listening and conversational ministry with the occasional times of signposting and crisis management along the way.

It's a privilege to be an agricultural chaplain because I realised early on that this was ministry with some of the most isolated and forgotten people that I have had the joy of sharing ministry with. The farming community is not unique in suffering the challenges of isolation and yet when they do appear in the press it is usually with an element of blame attached (usually environmental). To share love and care with a community that does not often receive it is deep part of the calling of the church.

Videos featuring Agricultural Chaplaincy

For more information check out our Chaplaincy Resources and Links and Chaplaincy Reading pages.

Check out these Chaplaincy Blog posts too:
Auction Market Chaplaincy
Derbyshire Agricultural Chaplaincy
Watching over one another in agricultural chaplaincy
More than just a tea tent

These pages may also be helpful:
Faith and farming
Faith and farming in Herefordshire
Faith and farming in West Devon
The role of farming in caring for God's creation
Agricultural helpline extends support to gay farmers

These external links may also be of interest:
Suicide fears for Herefordshire farmers
It's time for farmers to speak out about mental health issues - and these are the people who will listen
Prime Minister praises chaplain for support to gay farmers
How church support for farmers goes well beyond religion
Why caring Keith is a listening ear for troubled farmers

The Methodist Church is not responsible for any third party content linked to from this website.

You will find contact details on our Chaplaincy Contacts page.