Plough to be blessed in celebration of farmers
9th Jan 2020
A vintage plough will be led into Thaxted Church for blessing as part of a special church service to celebrate Plough Sunday.
Plough Sunday Church services celebrate the work of our farmers and traditionally mark the start of the agricultural year.
The 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 and will culminate the celebrations with a grand procession of tractors past the church.
Revd Janet Nicholls, Rural Adviser and Agricultural Chaplain for the Diocese of Chelmsford says:
Whilst farming practices have changed over the years, the importance of supporting those who produce our food is significant to us all. Without farmers, we would be very hungry! As Christians, we recognise that working directly with God’s creation to feed God’s people is holy work. 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”
The plough will be blessed by The Right Reverend Dr John Perumbalath, the Bishop Bradwell, on Sunday 12 January 2020.
Bishop John added:
“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 at 11.00 am and this will be followed by a Ploughman's Lunch to which all are welcome.
Plough Sunday Tradition
Plough Sunday is a tradition that goes back to medieval times when the communal village plough was often stored in the parish church over the winter months. Early in January, usually the Monday after Epiphany, the farmers would gather in church to bring the plough out of hibernation. The farming year would begin with a special blessing of the plough and the ploughmen in church.
After this the plough would be pulled through the village until they reached the local inn, where everyone would be fortified with food, ale and much dancing and merriment (hence the continued custom of Plough Monday Morris Dancing). And then with God’s blessing, the support of the village and with good food and drink inside them, the ploughmen were ready to start the new agricultural year.
We have published resources for Plough Sunday from our comprehensive Agricultural Festivals Pack on our Rural Issues web page. The pack also contains resources for the other Agricultural Festivals of the Church Year – Rogation, Lammas and Harvest.
The Vintage Plough inside Thaxted Parish Church as part of Plough Sunday celebrations in 2019. Image courtesy of www.saffronphoto.co.uk.