They might not be part of its regular “flock” but the Church of England has devised a new blessing service giving thanks for cows. The unusual liturgy was devised by the Rev Shirley Small…
Mrs Small, of St George’s parish, Pontesbury, held an informal service celebrating the importance of the dairy herd to the rural economy.
It included a prayer with special words of thanksgiving for “the working cows, the dry cows and for the bulls and calves”.
The wording also gave thanks for the “machines and the expertise that has gone in to producing this new equipment which takes some of the toil out of the labour” and left a space to name all the people working at the farm.
The service format has now been published by the Church’s national rural office for use across the country.
The state of the cattle farming has been a prime concern for the Church leadership during the recent dispute over milk prices.
Last month the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, called for British farmers to be allowed to sell their produce as “Fairtrade” goods in the same way as producers from the Third World.
Mrs Small said: “Ministering to the rural community here in Shropshire has always made me aware of the importance of the land.
“I find many people of faith in the course of my work, even if they are not regular churchgoers.
“The service was very special as there is concern in our community about the livelihood of farmers in the current dairy crisis.
“I hope the service will be of help to others and it can be used to bless any parlour, not just a new one.”
Dr Jill Hopkinson, the Church of England’s national rural officer, said: “This lovely simple service shows God’s presence in the heart of farming and food production.
“It is also a testament to the dedication of Shirley and so many rural parish priests who develop deep relationships with rural people and the communities.”
Now why is it that I’m thinking of mad cows?