We've been contacted by Farm Crisis Network, who have let us know that there will be a special Plough Sunday service at Howden Minster as an historic horse-drawn plough will be blessed as a symbol of God's blessing on all work on the land. The service will take place on Sunday 16 January 2011 at 10:45am, and there will be special recognition of the work undertaken by the farming charity Farm Crisis Network.
The origins of Plough Sunday go back a long way, at least to medieval times. On the first Sunday after Epiphany the parish ploughs, bedecked with ribbons, would be dragged to church to be blessed as the ploughing season began.Today, Plough Sunday provides an opportunity to pray for the farms and farmers of our country as well as looking back to celebrate the contribution made by past generations who followed the plough. With the focus of twenty first century society overwhelmingly urban in outlook it is good to be reminded of the vital contribution made by farmers and rural communities. The ceremony is also indicative of the Church of England's long standing commitment to rural England.
The concern for farmers which lies at the heart of the Plough Sunday service also defines the work of Farm Crisis Network (FCN). FCN is a Christian organisation and registered charity working across the UK in the farming community. Over 250 volunteers, drawn from rural churches and farming backgrounds provide a national helpline and visiting service to farming people and families facing difficulties. They provide pastoral and practical support for as long as it is needed, helping people to find a positive way forward through their problems. During this winter, a combination of the appalling weather, high feed and fuel costs as well as sheer hard work in unrelenting conditions has placed increased pressure on many farming families, leading to a dramatic increase in the helpline call rate. According to a study by the Commission For Rural Communities, one in four farming families are living below the poverty line. You can read more at www.farmcrisisnetwork.org.uk