When the rector, Peter, takes his family to Africa for a year so that he can work in a mission, the villagers are bereft. What's more, the locum, Anna, has rather modern ideas and the parishioners determined to keep an eye on her. Then she brings a down-and-out petty thief into their midst, sparking conflict within the community. The Women's Institute comes up with the idea of raising funds for Peter's mission and holds an upmarket pyjama party, midnight skinny dipping and an afternoon's horse racing. Then a message arrives from Peter with the most devastating news - and the villagers are more determined than ever to raise a substantial sum for the mission.