Tim Hewes

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Would you be prepared to be arrested twice in one day for non-violent direct action as part of a movement of people passionate about ending climate chaos? The retired dentist and part-time priest Tim Hewes did just that.

Tim, whose spirituality is influenced by his love of the outdoors, tells Jo Duckles his story.

The Revd Tim Hewes

The Revd Tim Hewes

Tim has spent most of his life in the Abingdon area. “I spent a lot of my youth on rivers, messing around with sailing boats and canoes,” he says. “I spent a lot of my time outside enjoying the natural world, which I love.”

The church was always part of Tim’s life, as his dad was a bell ringer in Sutton Courtenay. “When I was 13 I wasn’t having a good time at school. I was quite stroppy,” says Tim who came to faith at a youth camp with a Christian ethos. “Most of the people running it were highly qualified sportsmen. Some of them were Oxford Blues, and I was very impressed by them.”

Tim grew up to become a dentist in Oxford. “It’s a caring profession, and I was so privileged with some of the people who came in. Some of them I haven’t seen for 30 years, but they are still fresh in my mind.”

His love for the environment meant contextual theology was a strength for Tim when he was an ordinand. “I get my spiritual sustenance from the natural world. I’d read a lot of Thomas Merton and John O’Donohue,” he says. Merton was a monk and a supporter of the non-violent civil rights movement. O’Donohue was a priest, philosopher and writer who lived in a remote part of Ireland.

Tim’s first wife, Melinda, died of ovarian cancer, the day after he was due to be ordained a priest in 2003. The tragedy saw Tim’s ordination postponed to give him time to process what had happened. He has since remarried Andrea, who supports him in his environmental campaigning. “I have been becoming increasingly animated about the environment for the last 15 years,” says Tim, who joined Extinction Rebellion (XR) just over a year ago, as he was coming out of depression. He says the movement gave him a sense of hope.

“…people of all ages, some working, some retired, all sharing a passion but also sharing their grief for the planet…”

“I went to XR not sure what I had to offer, just passion. There were people of all ages, some working, some retired, all sharing a passion but also sharing their grief for the planet and what we’ve done to it and also anger. The XR slogan is love and rage. We start meetings with a body scan meditation,” says Tim, who proudly sports an XR tattoo on his arm.

And Tim is aware that protests and XR involvement aren’t for everyone.

“My children are in their 40s and feel they are struggling to keep their heads above the water. They talked to me about it, and I pointed out they are doing as much as they can to reduce their carbon footprint,” he added.

Here are 10 Ways To make a difference environmentally without getting arrested.