Jim Punton   -   his life and influence

What people say about him

In early 2013 BBC Radio Scotland featured Jim on Sunday Morning with Ricky Ross. The programme included input from Helen Cook, Ian Milligan and Pip Wilson. You can listen/download here. (It is 9 minutes/3.2 MB)

"He was a disturber of complacency in his directness, with a life-enhancing quality in his friendship."
Colin Marchant, writing in Third Way magazine.
Read more on Jim from Colin Marchant

"I remember attending a Greenbelt Workshop and feeling that here was someone who not only understood and spoke the language of justice, of politics and sociology... but especially communicated the intense relevance of the Bible to these subjects and the human condition. I felt empowered..."
David Buchan, Social Worker

"He was a very unusual guy. He was very inspirational for people ...who do youth work. ...he was a very inspiring sort of guy. An amazing guy really out of the evangelical tradition but clearly just ahead of his time in some ways, very good at pissing a whole lot of people off but also inspiring a lot of people, which is always a good way to be I think! A good combination of what you need to do if you are going to get anywhere in life, but he was also a very loving guy"
Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue (from an online interview with Dougie Adam)

"...Jim was first rate biblical theologian. His passion was N.T. Greek and he would wrestle into the small hours with the meaning of scripture in it's original context. He had the ability to relate the "then" of his biblical studies to the "now" of contemporary culture and society...
Jim was a passionate, generous, uniquely gifted man, an evangelist through whom others came to faith. He was loyal and supportive and inspired friendship and loyalty in others. He lived life to the full. I still miss him."

Michael Eastman
Read the full contribution from Michael Eastman, specially written for this site

"we first met when I was running a Hells Angels type club some 35 years or more ago ........ he worked for FYT and has been one of the greatest influences on my life and work"
Pip Wilson, Youth Worker and blogger

"Back in the late seventies a bloke called Jim Punton appeared out of the desert at Ernabella, and came to our bible study one night. I'd never heard of him, and have no idea how he arrived there, 300 miles from the nearest town. Jim was “on a roll” that evening, and delighted us with a list of earthy bits of scripture sanitised by our translators. “Perhaps your God has gone to the toilet,” teased Elijah on Mt. Carmel (in broad Scottish, to boot!)"
Andrew Prior, Scots Church Adelaide

"...an FYT training weekend and my first encounter with Jim Punton. I found him mesmerising because he talked my language, understood about youth work with really challenging youngsters but had a sophisticated theological vocabulary that made sense of the messy world of youth work that I lived in.... The ‘kingdom’ theology that Jim engendered was so powerful in providing a value to the faltering youth work practice that I took part in."
Phil White, Youth & Community worker, Glasgow

"Jim's academic and analytical ability was formidable but was never used as a weapon to intimidate. To those who had the privilege to share with him it gave a sense of security."
Jim Boal, a founder member of FYT in Northern Ireland

"Jim was a man who tackled life with all its conflicts and pain with courage, with a great sense of fun, and with great humility."
Sue Plater, chair of Greenbelt at the time of Jim's death

"Towards the end of my student years I was influenced by a more politicized 'radical' evangelical strand, in particular the work of Scotland's Jim Punton and from North America the work of Ron Sider and of Jim Wallis and the Sojourners Community."
Doug Gay, lecturer in Theology, Glasgow University, from his book "Remixing the Church"

"Late night leaders’ meetings, after the campers had gone to bed, and always over the ubiquitous mug of cocoa, became our combined workshop and support group, as we shared and developed our thinking about faith and life. It was a safe and supportive setting, where everyone’s view was welcome and no-one was put down for expressing a counter-view or because their journey was progressing at a slightly different pace. And Jim provided the stimulus with patience, insight and much love."
John Bowditch, referring to Jim leading SU Scotland camps at Kingscross, Arran

"That was the secret of FYT ....it was innovative, Biblical, and relevant to the situations in which we would find ourselves .
I have often in my work in SU and Church and teaching in Urban priority areas thanked God for all I learnt through Jim Punton and FYT"

Maggie Shearer, former SU Scotland staff-worker

"There must be few people who met Jim who didn’t remember him, and indeed whose lives he did not touch. Jim is someone who recently I quoted as one of the 3 figures who had most influenced my life."
Jim Cowie, Minister of the Scots Kirk in Paris. First FYT worker in Scotland

"...Jim's biblical teaching provided a strong background and challenge to the the life we were seeking to live in community. His teaching however took us also into the challenge of the social and political, all that the good news proclaims,. It began to change the way we thought and acted... Jim had virtually become a member of the community. Our delight in this was I think mutual..."
Jeanne Hinton, Post Green Community
Read more from Jeanne Hinton on Jim's Post Green involvement

"I met Jim when I was invited to be a committee/council member of FYT in the 70’s, and valued his wisdom, radicality and comradeship greatly. I dare to say that our relationship had a component of steel sharpening steel: his metal being more honed than mine!

... Jim was one of the few ‘white’ Christians that understood the ‘black experience’. "

Morris Stuart, Alice Springs

"...Went to a university ball with him - some dancer!! Did my cred a lot of good!"
Helen Cook

"...hated cruelty of any form even telling me off one day for picking a flower. I had to show him the stem so he could see for himself that it was already broken. He was man enough to apologise and I was man enough to accept. "
Lawrie Robinson, —once of London and now Australia

"He was really radical in thinking that the Bible quite clearly had a political message - that the gospel was full of reference to the poor, God's anger about poverty and injustice. So he could speak very strongly and very radically but he always sought to root himself on scripture, so he was always interested in 'what does the Bible say about this?'"
Ian Milligan

When I arrived in Edinburgh in 1969 Jean Kemp encouraged me to come to the annual FYT conferences led by Jim Punton. Perhaps I was on a committee but I do not recall this clearly. Jim Punton and FYT affected me profoundly. When I eventually returned to London I immediately sought out the Mayflower Family Centre which pioneered so much Christian youth work and was a member of its committee for 18 years. And I became chair of the FYT Executive committee, and then a trustee. But these are only the outward signs of the influence...
Keith White, an FYT Director