BISHOP JAMES JONES:
PATRON OF DENSHOLME CARE FARM
“My first memory of digging my hands into the soil was as a
child growing up in Scotland. In the early autumn schools closed down for the
‘Tattie Howking’ holidays when kids went on to the farms to pick potatoes. We
were bent double behind the tractor all day! The next memory was picking
strawberries. Equally back-breaking! As children we were also encouraged to
forage by picking rosehips which we would take to school for threepence a pound
to make syrup.
These formative experiences came flooding back to me when I
recently visited Densholme Care Farm. It was great to be with people of so many
different skills getting hands-on experience of the earth. By the way, thank
you for the box of organic vegetables! I’ve never tasted such sweet beetroot or
such earthy but creamy potatoes!
I love the ethos of the Farm. When I was a teacher I ran the
Community Service Programme in the local schools. We got different members of
the community involved in helping each other. One of the best activities was
skating in threesomes with two visually impaired friends on either side of a
sighted one. The results were exhilarating!
My own attitude to the earth was challenged and changed by
meeting hundreds of young people who told me how scared they were about what we
were doing to the planet. It made me think through my faith and the result was
a little book called ‘Jesus and the Earth’. I came to see that the famous
Lord’s Prayer encouraged us to pray for the earthing of heaven. It’s that
little book that led to Denys asking me to visit the Farm.
Since then with others we have built a City Academy with the
environment at the heart of its curriculum and we’ve created an organisation
that helps faith communities transform their local environment.
Recently when the Government was proposing to sell off the
Forestry Commission there was a public outcry. The Prime Minister then set up
an independent panel to review the future of forests and woodlands. I was asked
to chair it. We recommended that the public forests should remain in trust for
the nation. And so they have! In the introduction to our report I wrote,
‘Our forests and woods are nature’s playground for the
adventurous, museum for the curious, hospital for the stressed. Cathedral for
the spiritual, and a livelihood for the entrepreneur. They are a microcosm of
the cycle of life in which each and every part is dependent on the other;
forests and woods are the benefactor of all, purifying the air that we breathe
and distilling the water of life. In short, trees are for life.’
The more I think about it, that’s not a bad philosophy of
Before I became bishop of Liverpool I was bishop of Hull for
four years. I love Hull and the East Riding and am delighted with this
opportunity to re-connect with the blessing of Bishop Alison, the present
bishop of Hull.
As Patron I look forward to making new friends and to
learning new things about the earth.”
Bishop James Jones