Rev Kenny Hanna is Rural Chaplain, covering four presbyteries: Armagh, Down, Iveagh and Newry. Kenny grew up on a farm in the Mournes and continues to farm part-time.
His wife, Freda, is a Primary School teacher, while their daughter Rebekah studies at Cornhill Bible teaching course and also works as an intern at Kingsmills Presbyterian Church. Their son Matthew is on work placement in the third year of his computer science degree. Their home church is Mourne.
I have just begun my second of this three year rural chaplaincy pilot scheme, which covers four presbyteries (Armagh, Down, Iveagh and Newry) and their c.100 congregations. We are here to help families of all backgrounds: the essence of this work is summed up in our strapline: "Caring for farmers, their families and the rural community. Bringing the hope of Jesus the Good Shepherd."
Rural chaplaincy is a Jesus-centred initiative and a small team of pastoral evangelists form the backbone of the weekly work, with others supplementing the team for particular events as required. We sensitively seek to come alongside individuals and families in their need, referring them to other organisations as appropriate and pointing them to the hope only Jesus can bring.
Our work is very much a partnership: between the Council for Mission in Ireland (CMI), livestock markets, farm support agencies, agri-businesses and local churches in the four pilot presbyteries. The marts (Downpatrick, Hilltown, Rathfriland and Markethill) provide a helpful base for us, being social and economic hubs for farmers; they also determine the four presbytery areas.
We see our work as helping local PCI churches to connect with their communities and share Jesus' good news. This includes training Christians and establishing PCI stands at local agricultural shows, initiating build-bridging events at livestock markets, speaking at a wide variety of church-based initiatives, taking the monthly evangelistic Bible study at a hotel in Hilltown and helping to produce a rural-themed gospel tract and an evangelistic gospel course. I also regularly visit PCI congregations, informing about the work and encouraging prayer for it.
Kenny describes some of the highlights of his first year as Rural Chaplain:
"I am extremely excited about this work and its potential, under God."
"We have already had the opportunity to encourage lots of Christian farmers and farming families to live for Jesus in their rural situations and we delight to share Jesus' good news with people of all backgrounds, some of whom may seldom hear about Jesus."
"More widely, there has been an interest in rural chaplaincy and its possibilities for other rural situations outside the four pilot presbyteries."
"The most important thing we could ask of you is to please pray for this gospel effort. The reason that God is at work is because his people are praying, so please contact the CMI office and they will email you an up-to-date monthly prayer letter.
- For God to be at work, by his Spirit, in rural areas, right across this island. To revive Jesus' followers in our faith, so that we make a real impact for him, and to draw many others to begin to love and follow Jesus.
- That the rural chaplaincy team will be an encouragement to local PCI churches as we partner with them in helping spread Jesus' good news in their communities.
- Farmers and farming families face difficulties of many kinds, including mental and physical health concerns, business pressures and recurring animal health worries, such as TB and avian flu. May the rural chaplaincy team be able to provide sensitive and helpful pastoral support, including pointing them to the hope only Jesus can bring.
- As the rural chaplaincy team partner with livestock markets, farm support organisations, agri-business and others in the agricultural sector, may we be able to work for the benefit of farmers and farming families, showing Jesus' love in all we do.
If you would like to get in contact with PCI’s Rural Chaplain please do so by emailing: email@example.com