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Diocese announces three associate agricultural chaplains

The Diocese of Lincoln is pleased to announce the appointment of three part-time, associate Agricultural Chaplains for Lincolnshire. They will be formerly commissioned to their news posts on 15 April and will work alongside LRSN to “walk with” farming and rural folk through tough times.

The three new chaplains are the Rev Sue Hentley (pictured above, left), from the South of Lincolnshire; the Rev Al Jenkins (pictured above, centre), a curate based in Quarrington, who will provide support in central Lincolnshire and the Rev Lee Gabel (pictured, right), from Brocklesby Park, Croxton, and North Wolds and who will be supporting farmers in the north of the county. They will each offer a day a week, in addition to their parish work.

The appointments will augment the pastoral and spiritual work of the Methodist minister, Agricultural Chaplain, and founder trustee of LRSN, the Revd Canon Alan Robson, who has many years’ experience in providing rural and agricultural chaplaincy, from the Humber to the Wash.

Alison Twiddy, LRSN’s Project Manager, welcomed the appointment of the three chaplains. She said: “The whole LRSN team is looking forward to working closely with the three associate chaplains; we know there will be some excellent joint opportunities to help farming and rural families together. Farming and horticulture are so important to Lincolnshire’s economy and to our communities, but there are many challenges facing the industry, so the more eyes, ears and helping hands on the ground the better.”

The role of the agricultural chaplain is to help people by providing a listening ear to anyone who may be facing a range of issues including isolation, financial concerns, or family difficulties. They are also able to signpost other sources of help and all three associate chaplains have received foundation training through LRSN, so they can develop a deeper understanding of the issues that the Lincolnshire farming and rural community is facing.

Revd Sue previously worked with Alan and recalls ‘memorable visits’ that she made to farmers whilst on placement with him. Now, as a retiree, she is delighted to offer herself as someone to talk to: “I’m really conscious of the loneliness of farming. Sitting in a tractor cab on your own all day can be very isolating, and others may not wish to burden their loved ones with their worries and concerns so I hope I will be able to lighten the load for our hard-working farmers.”

Having grown up in an agricultural community, the Revd Lee feels that the outdoor life is part of who he is and where he feels at home. “As Agricultural Chaplains, primarily we’re here to help people, particularly those in the farming and food producing contexts. There’s a significant need for pastoral support around mental health issues and it will be a huge privilege to assist with this. Wearing a clerical collar, a beacon of hope and light, people know that the care being offered stems from within the love of Christ.”

“Chaplaincy is very close to my heart; it’s about coming alongside people,” said Revd Al. He continued: “I’m trained in person-centered counselling, and it’s something I love to do. There are challenges ahead and tenant farming has particular difficulties with present government changes. Having chaplains who are interested in them is going to be good, especially for those who are concerned about the future.”

As the service develops, more details will be available about how to contact the associate chaplains. In the meantime, if you or someone you know needs help, please get in touch with LRSN via our helpline, which is manned from 8am to 8pm every day of the year and is free and confidential. Ring us on 0800 138 1710.