Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Approximately half of the parishes and churches in the Diocese of Chelmsford are defined as rural (settlements of less than 10,000). Our aim is for each church to be a transforming presence in its community.

Churches have a distinct place at the heart of rural communities. We recognise the unique challenges faced by rural communities including social isolation caused by reduced access to public services. We aim to help rural churches to creatively serve their communities and respond positively to the needs of our times.

Chelmsford Diocese is committed to enabling rural churches to serve Christ effectively through supporting clergy and lay people in their ministry. 

Rural Adviser and Agricultural Chaplain

The Diocesan Rural Adviser and Agricultural Chaplain, Revd Canon Janet Nicholls provides support, advice and practical help across our diocese.

Janet supports rural life and churches across our diocese. She represents the diocese on rural matters and provides chaplaincy for the farming community. She works with a number of agricultural and rural organisations and charities to provide practical help for those who live and work in rural areas of our diocese. Janet is available to preach and speak at events and can be contacted on:

Telephone:  01371 851317  


Facebook: Rural Adviser for Chelmsford Diocese


Revd Canon Janet Nicholls has written a Harvest Report for 2022 which contains detailed crop information for our diocese and may be useful for our clergy prepariing for Harvest festivals. You can read the report on the link below. 

Harvest Report 2022 

County Harvest Festival Service 2022

Sunday 25 September, 3.30pm at Chelmsforrd Cathedral 

Chelmsford Cathedral is hosting the County Harvest Festival Service on Sunday 25th September at 3.30pm. This year, we will be celebrating the diverse range of farming that the county of Essex offers from city to countryside to coastline.The Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, the Bishop of Chelmsford, will be preaching at the service. 

One of the highlights of the service is the opening procession, and this year leading in members of the farming community will be all creatures great and small from Barleylands Fram. In a specially choreographed entry during the first hymn, the animals will be followed by tractors which will be driven up the central aisle and Young Farmers with wheelbarrows! 

Read more 

Resources of agricultrual festivals 

A variety of resources to support the church in the countryside can be accessed from the Arthur Rank Centre via

The Agricultural Festivals of Plough Sunday, Rogation, Lammas and Harvest Festival provide opportunities for the church to be at the heart of rural life.

Our Chelmsford Diocese resource pack contains materials for four agricultural festivals (Plough Sunday, Rogation, Lammas and Harvest) includes materials for worship, sessions for primary school visits, resources for Messy Church and All Age services, and resources for youth groups alongside some theology and information about these festivals. You can request a printed copy of this pack below. Alternatively download the relevant PDF from the digital download list.

Printed Version - This pack is available in printed form on request from Revd Janet Nicholls 

Digital Version - Please select the section you wish to download: Introduction | Plough Sunday | Rogation | Lammas | Harvest (pages download as PDF documents)

In 2022 the dates for the Agricultural Festivals are:

Plough Sunday - Sunday 9 January

Rogation Sunday - Sunday 22 May

Lammas – Monday 1 August

Harvest - Sundays in September and October

For more information please contact Janet Nicholls
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