Pictured L-R: Rev Sue Hentley, Rev Al Jenkins and Rev Lee Gabel

The three new appointments are: the Rev Sue Hentley, a retiree, who is based in the South of Lincolnshire and will focus on the Boston Archdeaconry; the Rev Lee Gabel is currently incumbent in the benefice of Brocklesby Park, Croxton and North Wolds and he will be supporting farmers in Stow and Lindsey. The third appointment is Rev Al Jenkins, a Curate in the Benefice of Quarrington, who will provide support in the Archdeaconry of Lincoln.  Each will offer a day per week, in addition to their parish work.

The role of the agricultural chaplain is to help people by providing a listening ear to farmers who may be facing a range of issues such as feeling lonely and isolated, financial concerns or family difficulties. They are also able to signpost other sources of help that are available. Each has received foundation training through the Lincolnshire Rural Support Network (LRSN), so they have a deeper understanding of the issues farmers are facing.

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

The commissioning will be carried out by Bishop Nigel on Thursday 15th April 2021, via zoom.

The Rt Revd Dr Nigel Peyton, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Lincoln explains: “We are delighted that three of our diocesan clergy are offering chaplaincy support to those working in the rural economy across Lincolnshire in these challenging times.”

As an ecumenical chaplaincy, the Revd Bruce Thompson, Chair of the Lincolnshire Methodist district, is also thrilled by this development, “As we begin to move into a post-pandemic world, many changes will have to be embraced, not all of them welcome, with additional challenges for us all, not least amongst the agricultural community of Lincolnshire.  I am so pleased we enter this new period with a renewed focus on chaplaincy and I am sure their service be of great help to those in need in the coming months.”

Revd Sue previously worked with the Revd Alan Robson a few years ago and recalls ‘memorable visits’ that she made to farmers whilst on placement with him. Now, as a retiree limited by arthritis, she has the benefit of time on her hands, and 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 working on a duck farm the Revd Lee Gabel 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 tenancy 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.”

Alison Twiddy from LRSN welcomes this new development. She said: “The whole LRSN team foresee the many and positive joint opportunities as a result of these appointments.  There are many challenges facing the Agri-sector, which represents more than 10 per cent of our county’s workforce.  The more eyes, ears and helping hands on the ground the better.”