Last Sunday’s evensong service dedicated to blessing the asparagus harvest in Worcester, England, has been met by mixed reviews.
Rev Peter Ould, a priest from Canterbury, said: “I think the service itself is a good idea – there isn’t anything wrong in praying for a good growing season.
“But someone dressed up as an asparagus and a bloke in a St George costume behind him holding a sword – that just looks a bit silly.
“That takes it from being a good church service to something which looks like it’s more to do with promoting the asparagus growers.”
On Twitter Norfolk-based vicar Rob Baker said: “I am seeing but still not quite believing. This is utterly extraordinary.”
Another priest, Northumberland-based Victor Dickinson, posted: “Total prats”.
More conservative bloggers accused the service of bringing the Church of England into disrepute.
The service was held to mark the city’s asparagus festival. The Precentor of the Cathedral explained the church’s involvement.
Dr Brierley said: “Recently, Vale of Evesham asparagus has been awarded EU protected name status, and when the festival organisers asked if a round of asparagus could be blessed in a service at the cathedral on St George’s day, the first day of the farming season, the cathedral was very happy to include a thanksgiving for the vegetable at its evening service, as a sign of the abundant provision and generosity of God.
“Offering to God the first-fruits of the harvest is deeply embedded in both biblical and English tradition, and indeed, offering the first-fruits of the wheat harvest has been recognised by the Church of England with formal liturgy since 2006.”