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Home  >  Features  >  Pioneer Ministry: 'Greatly Welcomed and Appreciated'


Pioneer Ministry: 'Greatly Welcomed and Appreciated'

Pioneer Ministry: 'Greatly Welcomed and Appreciated'

Tuesday October 29 2019

Pioneer ministry, launched by the Ministries Council of the Church of Scotland in 2015, places ministers in a variety of new settings and locations.

In a weekly series, the five current Pioneer Ministers share their experiences.

The Rev Chris Blackshaw, Pioneer Farming Minister in the Presbytery of Ayr

“I minister to the agricultural community across Ayr presbytery and beyond, helping farmers who are experiencing difficulties such as relationship break ups, financial problems, suicides and fatal farm accidents. Mental health and depression is also a key issue, which is worsened by the isolation in which farmers live. I work in partnership with other agencies such as the Rural Payment Agency, Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution, National Farmers Union Scotland, Police Scotland and Trading Standards, enabling me to mediate between farmers and authorities.

“Pastoral visiting to farm steadings is a priority and is greatly welcomed and appreciated by farmers. These visits give people opportunities to speak to someone instead of keeping issues to themselves. Sometimes people have wept as they share about their difficulties, whilst others have been angry with God.

“During the year we have two farm based acts of worship – a farm walk and praise and carols in the sale ring at the mart. Both events attract 250 people of all ages from church and non-church backgrounds.

“I am greatly encouraged by the warm welcome I receive from the agricultural community, be it on farms or in the market. The feedback that I receive fully supports the work the church is doing in this ministry. The words of one farmer sums it up: ‘You might not think people appreciate what you do, but we do appreciate it, greatly.’

“My work has also sparked massive interest across rural presbyteries in Scotland and I have been invited to speak at many meetings. Some presbyteries are now planning to put into place a similar role in their area so it is encouraging to see the Church supporting the farming community in this way.”

This feature first appeared in October's Life and Work. Download a single issue for £1.99 or subscribe from £12.