The Archbishop of Canterbury met farmers to discuss the issues affecting the industry and rural communities, as part of a three day tour of Hereford Diocese.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby started the tour of Herefordshire and Shropshire on 14 October and spoke to parishioners, rural communities and NFU members.
The Archbishop’s visit focused on the work spearheaded by the Right Reverend Richard Frith, the Bishop of Hereford, who retires later this year.
The diocese, who organised the tour, has 420 churches, from Ross-on-Wye in the south to Telford in the north.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “Herefordshire and Shropshire form part of the agricultural backbone of the country and I’m excited to learn more about the rural economy and how churches are serving in numerous ways.
“It’s a great joy to be able to visit new expressions of Church, to witness important social projects and see how the good news of Jesus is being communicated in 2019.
"As he retires, I am grateful for all that has been achieved under Bishop Richard’s leadership in the last few years and thankful to him and his staff for all the preparations.”
On the first day of his visit, the Archbishop held a question and answer session with students at Hereford Sixth Form College and visited clergy at the cafe at All Saints Church, High Street, Hereford, before heading for a private visit to meet children for a celebration of Bible stories and song.
The day ended with a sold-out question and answer session at The Courtyard Theatre, Hereford.
Day two saw him climb Clee Hill, and head to Ludlow Brewery and St Laurence’s Church; he also enjoyed a bacon bap when he met farmers at The Butty Van, at Oakwood Farm, Longville.
The Butty Van was started two years ago by local farmers and the Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy, an outreach support service run by Hereford Diocese.
At St Laurence Church the Archbishop launched the Hereford Diocese ‘Mission & Mortar’ digital tool kit, which is designed to help parishioners rejuvenate their church buildings; developed with £38,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund it will eventually be rolled out nationally.
On the final day (16 October) he was at Hereford Livestock Market with farmers where he and farmers received one of 200 commemorative mugs printed with the line 'Thank God for British farming'.
He also met NFU Herefordshire county adviser Clare Greener, Ceris Jones, NFU climate change adviser, John Royle, union chief livestock adviser and international trade adviser Tom Keen, among others, to discuss sector issues.
Speaking from the sheep ring the Archbishop answered questions on climate change, the stress of TB testing, the effect on meat prices of the buying power of the supermarkets and the threat to food standards of trade deals negotiated, if and when the UK leaves the European Union.
The Archbishop told farmers: ‘I know you are isolated. I know it’s often very, very hard and just coming on this visit has been a reminder of that to me.
"We know how important you are and we value you.
"People have forgotten that you’re essential to national survival."
The final day also saw him meet Hereford community leaders and attend a service in the cathedral.
The Rt Revd Richard Frith said: ‘We are proud and delighted that the Archbishop decided to visit us in the Hereford Diocese.
“Across Shropshire and Herefordshire, our churches are doing some inspirational work to share the good news of Jesus Christ and we’re excited to share with the Archbishop what’s being achieved with some tremendous hard work and enthusiasm from our churches and parishioners.”
After being ordained Deacon in 1992, Archbishop Justin spent 15 years serving Coventry Diocese. His original curacy was at All Saints Church, Chilvers Coton, with St Mary the Virgin, at Astley, in Nuneaton while in 1995 he became Rector of St James, Southam, and then of St Michael and All Angels, at Ufton.
He was made a Canon of Coventry Cathedral in 2002, became Dean of Liverpool in 2007, before taking over as Bishop of Durham around four years later.
He was enthroned as Archbishop of the See of Canterbury in 2013.