Church reaches out to farmers under pressure

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The Presbytery of Ballymena has launched a pastoral leaflet for farming families many of whom face the pressures of economic uncertainty.

As the farming community prepared for the Balmoral Show, the Rev. Daniel Kane of West Church, Ballymena, who is himself from a well-known North Antrim farming family, said that the Presbytery wanted to demonstrate its practical and pastoral support for farmers and their families given the deepening crisis many of them face.

He was speaking at Ballymena Livestock Market where the new leaflet was launched.

Rev. Kane said: “Many farmers and their families are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety and stress due to a range of factors. Falling farmgate prices and global factors, such as the possible further reduction in global milk prices, continue to have a major impact on their livelihoods and are putting their profit margins under severe pressure.

“Presbytery of Ballymena decided it was vital to express our heart-felt support for farmers and their families with this pastoral support leaflet. One of the strengths of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland lies in its rural congregations, and by and large in farming families. We wanted to sign-post farmers and their families to God and His Word, and the comfort and compassion they can find through believing in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, along with other sources of practical help,” he said.

Presbyterian Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian McNie, was also at the Livestock Market to support the initiative.

He said: “Many of the issues that are covered in the leaflet are common to farming communities beyond the bounds of Ballymena and I hope this initiative demonstrates both our prayerful and practical support for farmers and their families.

“During my year as Moderator, I have met many farmers and their families, both here and in the Republic of Ireland, and I have been humbled and impressed by their fortitude and perseverance in these difficult times. I have also been struck by the very real sense of loneliness many farmers experience, often as a result of the long hours they work, and the changing nature of modern farming life in general. Farmers and those who work on the land have, for many generations, been the backbone of our rural congregations. I pray that this initiative will be of benefit to farmers and their families across the Presbytery.”

Mr. Kane concluded, “The Presbytery of Ballymena wants to reassure all famers and their families of our ongoing pastoral and prayerful support. Your local minister will always be ready and willing to listen in confidence and offer pastoral friendship and prayer.”

Copies of the leaflet can be downloaded at www.ballymenapresbytery.org or requested from info@ballymenapresbytery.org