14 April 2000

ROGATION SUNDAY – 28 May 2000

A day of prayer for the farming community

MAY 28 will be a special day.

It will be Rogation Sunday and it will be a day of prayer for the farming community.

Across the nation, in urban and rural areas and across all denominations, it will be the plight of farmers and their families that will be uppermost in churchgoers minds.

"A great opportunity for everyone to remember the needs of the farming community," says Gordon Gatward, director of the Arthur Rank Centre, the group which co-ordinates church work in the countryside.

Leaflets will be distributed through churches, the NFU and other rural bodies – and some of the aims, details and suggestions for Rogation Sunday are outlined on this page. And why not wear a green ribbon to show your solidarity with British farmers.

This years event follows the success of a similar day last May when the idea was promoted as a response to growing troubles in the countryside.

Churches, meanwhile, continue to play a massive part in helping people through the current tough times. Every day, privately and publicly, they give support and guidance. The Arthur Rank Centre has also warned government of the human cost of the crisis and of its effect on families and children.

One of Rogation Sundays aims is to further raise awareness of the current problems and, by holding special services and events, unite communities.

Lets wear a green ribbon. Lets all join in. Lets help make Rogation Sunday a very special Sunday.

Action for Rogation Sunday

Rogation Sunday has been chosen because it has long been used as a day to unite the whole community. In rural settings, Rogation services often feature a procession around the parish with prayers being offered at different places that represent community life – the shop, village hall, school or local farm, for example.

How you can help

Churches are being asked to support the Rogation Sunday 2000 campaign by organising special services on 28 May to which representatives of the wider community are invited and at which the current farming situation is addressed. Suggested prayers and sermon ideas are shown below. Wherever possible, it is suggested that at least part of the service be held in the open air, perhaps following the traditional form of a walk round the parish. You may even be able to hold an act of worship on a farm as part of the walk.

The Green Ribbon

To express support further and show solidarity with British farmers, it is also hoped that local churches will encourage people to wear a green ribbon on Rogation Sunday itself. This idea is used to great effect by some churches in the US. Churches and local groups can obtain lengths of the ribbon from the Arthur Rank Centre (address below) at £3.80 per 100m. These can then be cut simply into small lapel ribbons.

Uniting the rural community

The Arthur Rank Centre thanks the National Farmers Union and to farmers weekly for their support with promoting the campaign. Local branches of the NFU, Young Farmers Clubs, Womens Farming Union and Womens Institutes are also being asked to help.

Further details

Contact the Arthur Rank Centre, NAC, Stoneleigh Park, Warwick-shire CV8 2LZ. Tel: 02476 696969.

SERMONS and PRAYERS

Preparing a suitable sermon

The following statistics may help in preparing a Rogation Sunday sermon:

&#8226 UK farming families care for 80% of our land and produce 70% of our food.

&#8226 They employ over 600,000 people.

&#8226 Farm incomes have fallen 60% in recent years.

&#8226 18,000 farmers and farm workers lost their job last year alone.

&#8226 Nearly all pig producers and the majority of poultry producers are making unsustainable financial losses. So, too, are over half of all lowland livestock farmers, almost half of cereal growers, one in three dairy farmers, one in four hill beef and sheep producers and the majority of horticulturists.

&#8226 Bleak financial prospects are cited as the predominant factor behind the growing number of farmers being diagnosed with severe emotional problems.

For Prayer Cards

God of the heavens and the earth,

You call us to share in the care of creation and to bring food and fruitfulness from field and farm.

Hear our prayer for all who make their living on the land in this time of crisis and anxiety.

For Thanksgiving

For the gift of Creation:

For the enormous: for the tiny

For refreshment: for a challenge,

For gentle beauty: for fierce beauty,

For all the variety of place and season,

For fruitfulness

We praise you.

For the inheritance in Creation, from generations past:

For landscape,

For craft and skill,

For breed and variety in livestock and crops,

For wildlife untamed,

For fertility maintained,

We praise you.

For our existence in Creation:

For air,

For space,

For moisture,

For food,

We praise you.

For those who represent us all in tending Creation:

For gardeners,

For foresters,

For farmers,

We praise you.

For Christs blessing of bread,

For revealing the divine presence in earthly things,

We praise you.

The Petition

We pray for farmers, their families and communities and all who depend on them.Lord, in your mercy HEAR OUR PRAYER

For agricultural chaplains, support groups and rural churches.Lord in your mercy, HEAR OUR PRAYER.

For restraint and fairness in the use of economic power For discernment and a long view in policy and decision, For love of creation in farm policy and practice, For justice in world trade, Lord in your mercy, HEAR OUR PRAYER.

For ourselves that we may eat with joy and with care; For land and livestock and love for those who care for them, Lord in your mercy, HEAR OUR PRAYER.

Amen