Traditional service set to mark start of farming year

Thaxted Morris dancers will be performing for the Plough Sunday celebrations Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Thaxted Morris dancers will be performing for the Plough Sunday celebrations Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO - Credit: Archant

Farmers in Essex will be celebrating the start of the agricultural year with a special service at Thaxted Church, near Dunmow.

A vintage plough will led into the church and blessed as part of the Plough Sunday celebrations, which take place on Sunday (January 12), from 11am.

Thaxted Morris Men will join the service and lead the congregation outside for the blessing of a

modern plough and tractor as a sign of support for the farming community. Members of Essex Young

Farmers Club are also joining the service, which culminates in a grand procession of tractors past the church.

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Revd Janet Nicholls, rural adviser and agricultural chaplain for the Diocese of Chelmsford said while farming practices had changed, the importance of supporting those who produce our food remained. "Without farmers, we would be very hungry," she said. "Plough Sunday blessings provide us with the opportunity to affirm and strengthen our farmers in this vital work.

"Mid-January is a harsh time to be working outside; cold, dark and depressing. The church can make such a positive contribution to our farmers in offering God's blessing and providing friendship and hospitality through Plough Sunday celebrations."

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The plough will be blessed by The Right Reverend Dr John Perumbalath, the Bishop Bradwell.

Bishop John said: "At a time when there is an increase in uncertainty for our farmers it is essential that we celebrate all that is good about agricultural life and the agricultural community, and support each other in our sacred task of being stewards of the earth.

"As we thank our farmers for all that they do in their land to produce the food we eat, we also remind ourselves of our God-given responsibility to use, care for and preserve our land being aware of the environmental crisis we are facing.

"I look forward to joining the farmers of Essex who would gather for the Plough Sunday celebrations this year and offer them God's blessings and our prayers"

Members of the local farming community will be present for the service, which will be followed by a ploughman's lunch to which all are welcome.

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