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Rogation Sunday in the Three Valleys Benefice

by Michael Ford last modified 27 May, 2022 05:36 PM

A two hundred strong congregation were moved to tears at the Three Valleys Benefice special Rogation Sunday service last weekend. The Revd Jenny Nelson, curate, shares her thoughts.

"Last Sunday, we enjoyed an extraordinary Rogation Service at West Hayes Farm in the Three Valleys Benefice.

The service moved many of the two hundred strong congregation to tears, with it also being a farewell service for Team Vicar, Richard and Lay Worship Leader, Liz Kirlew.

The sermon touched on some extraordinary stories of Richard and Liz's time, but also challenged church goers to consider the balance of our lives in two lists, one in reflective stillness and space, the other in that which challenges us, in bold actions, as well serving and living out God’s vocation for our lives. 

The term ‘Rogation’ comes from the Latin rogare, means “to ask” and on this day, Richard gathered the benefice and wider community together to ask for God’s blessing on all our farmers, their crops, productivity, livestock, buildings, machinery, all of which play their part in supplying our daily food.

His colourful illustrations spoke of a farmer’s affinity with nature, the earth, soil, and creation, in their day-to-day work, but also in their deep-rooted spirituality. While the traditional rogation service since mediaeval times includes beating the bounds and a procession, we moved outside of the cathedral-sized barn to the gate and other points for a series of blessings and the sharing of hope in God’s goodness which enables all to flourish. 

The farming industry’s communities and farmers are enduring a challenging time, and Richard expressed the importance of the church family coming together to celebrate and to pray for the flourishing of all farms. Richard has always had a gift for developing our understanding of the complexities and challenges of rural and farming life, and on this occasion he drew our attention to the most pressing and critical matters of the day, from the cost of fuel and wheat, the profound responsibility of feeding whole nations, to local fly-tipping cleared by farmers. 

Richard extends his thanks to all who have supported the Three Valleys Benefice Rogation Service and his ministry through the years. Our prayers are with Richard and Liz, who will be much missed by the team and communities here."

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