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.

We recognise the unique challenges faced by rural communities including reduced access to public services, lack of employment and training opportunities, closure of public amenities including shops and pubs which traditionally provided places for people to gather.

Churches have a place in creatively serving rural communities through living the gospel of Christ in response 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.

We have a Rural Adviser and Agricultural Chaplain, Revd Janet Nicholls, who supports rural communities and churches. Janet welcomes contact on 01371 851317,  or on facebook as Rural Adviser for Chelmsford Diocese.

We also have a Centre for Excellence in Rural Ministry. The centre aims to explore and support effective ways of doing mission and ministry in rural multi-parish contexts. Revd Lydia Smith is a team vicar in the Colchester area and Director of the Centre. Lydia can be contacted via by email.

She also has a blog with some useful resources and creative thinking about rural mission and ministry in the Church of England’s Diocese of Chelmsford and tweets about rural church issues @RevLydiaSmith.

 The diocese runs courses and events for those serving rural parishes throughout the year. These are listed in the diary section.

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

A pack containing resources 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 or Mark Tiddy (Bradwell Area Youth Adviser).

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

Additional Material (required to run some of the sessions in the pack) - Click to download (downloads as a zip file containing all resources)

For more information please contact Janet Nicholls
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