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. 


The Rural Team is available to provide support, advice and practical help across the diocese. The team consists of:

Diocesan Rural Adviser and Agricultural Chaplain Revd Canon Janet Nicholls

Janet supports rural life and churches across the 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 the diocese. Janet is available to preach and speak at events and can be contacted on 01371 851317 or on facebook as Rural Adviser for Chelmsford Diocese.

Director for the Centre for Excellence in Rural Ministry Revd Lydia Smith

The centre aims to explore and support effective ways of doing mission and ministry in rural multi-parish contexts. Lydia is a team vicar of rural parishes in the Colchester area and Director of the Centre. She also has a blog which provides a space for creative thinking about rural mission and ministry and tweets about rural church issues @RevLydiaSmith She can also be contacted via email by clicking HERE.



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 2021 the dates for the Agricultural Festivals are:

Rogation Sunday Sunday 9 May

Lammas Sunday August 1st

Harvest  Sundays in September and October

For more information please contact Janet Nicholls
Is there anything wrong with this page?