Organised by PCI’s Dromore Presbytery - one of Church’s 19 local regional bodies - which includes 22 congregations in the north eastern corner of County Down, the convener of its Balmoral Show Committee, Rev Bobby Liddle, said that a warm welcome awaited everyone. “Whether it is in our cities, or the rural towns and villages spread across the countryside, Presbyterian churches are very much a part of the local community.
“Across Northern Ireland, and indeed the whole island, farmers and farming families have been the backbone of our rural congregations for many years. As the traditional rhythm of church life returns, as we move out of the pandemic restrictions, it is good to see that the Balmoral Show is back for its traditional four days in May once again.”
Mr Liddle continued, “With all the fun, excitement and opportunities that the Show brings, I would like to extend to everyone who is passing a very warm welcome to our stand for a chat, or an opportunity just to rest those weary legs after watching the judging or some of the special events in the main arena. We are also able to provide our visitors with tea and coffee this year.”
On the Presbytery’s stand, EK 145, the organisers are looking forward to renewing relationships with old friends and making new ones. “As a Church we want to reassure all farmers and their families of our ongoing pastoral and prayerful support, which is one of the main reasons for taking part in Balmoral each year.”
The Dromore Presbytery have attended Northern Ireland’s premier Agri-Food event, which is organised and run by the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society since 2015. The minister of Legacurry Presbyterian Church continued, “As a rural presbytery, we are also aware that farming families face many challenges from outside pressures such as Brexit and TB, to needs closer to home such as loneliness, isolation and financial stress.
“Once again we can offer a compassionate and listening ear, along with prayer for any given situation to those who would like us to pray for them. We have also produced a leaflet that signposts farming families, and the wider rural community, to the extensive support that is available from key rural-based organisations, should it be needed.”
Mr Liddle continued, “As we have said before, as a rural presbytery we want to continue to show our support for farming communities while having the opportunity to show God’s love to those who work on the land and in the rural economy.”
Throughout the Show Rev Kenny Hanna, who was installed as is PCI’s first rural chaplain in November, and is working throughout the farming communities of counties Armagh and Down, will be about the stand over the four days.
He also accompanied the Moderator as he toured a number of stands meeting the new President of the Ulster Farmers' Union, members of HSENI and the Farming Families Health Checks Programme, to name a few.
Attending the opening day of the Show, Presbyterian Moderator, Right Reverend Dr David Bruce, welcomed the opportunity to visit the stand. “Having spoken to farmers on many occasions during my time as Moderator, and visited their farms on Presbytery Tours, I understand that these are not easy times for them and their families.
“If I can reiterate what Bobby has already said, as a Church I would like to reassure all farming families of our ongoing pastoral support, and our stand is part of that prayerful commitment to those who are tasked with stewarding the land, he said.”
“For farmers and the agri-community as a whole, and townies like me, the Balmoral Show has always been, and will remain, part of the warp and weft of farming life. While it comes and goes like the seasons, it is great to see so many enjoying all it has to offer,” Dr Bruce said.
Photos: (1) At the Dromore Presbytery's stand, (left to right) PCI's Rural Chaplain, Rev Kenny Hanna, the Moderator's wife Zoë and her husband, along with the Presbytery's Balmoral Show Committee convener, Rev Bobby Liddle (2) on the Ulster Farmers' Union stand with (left) UFU President, David Brown and Deputy President, William Irvine (3) meeting members of HSENI and (4) with the Farming Families Health Checks Programme team, a one-stop mobile facility that offers free health assessments and advice to farmers.