John Bell – in conversation

I felt incredibly grateful to be able to interview incredible social justice advocate, Church of Scotland minister, song-writer and fellow Iona Community member John Bell live last week, as part of my role as co-chair of the Open Table Network. As ever, John shared openly and authentically and gifted us many gritty, honest, inspiring and humbling stories to reflect on. One of my favourite moments was when, having been asked what inspired him to write, John laughed, paused, and then said, in a typically matter-of-fact manner, “It’s really kind of necessity. When you find an [identity or experience] that hasn’t been articulated, you have to”.

This resonated with me, as my own sense of calling is entangled with the realisation that few trans voices are being heard in the Church, and trans people are wanting for support and advocacy. Why am I out in my work? To echo John, it’s really kind of necessity. John also helpfully reminded us that, “New life grows from the ground up”. I strongly believe that the nurture – the light, water, and food – of voices like John’s enables those fresh shoots of new life to struggle up through stony ground. Have a listen to what else John had to say above, and consider how we might work together to “love the you you hide”.

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