Hello!!! I’m John. John Bell. Many of you will have seen me around over the last few months, with my wife Rebecca, and our two children – Sophie (8) and Daniel (5). I have spoken to quite a few of you but I know there are still many others I haven’t yet had the chance to talk to. We live in Stevenage and started coming to Christ Church at the end of September last year.
Originally from Durham, I spent five years in and around Farnborough, Hampshire obtaining a degree in Aerospace Engineering. It was there I met a friend who led (dragged?) me to Christ. In 2001, work brought me to Hertfordshire, and God led me to St Paul’s in St Albans where I met Rebecca. In 2010, we felt called to move to Stevenage (back to Stevenage in my case), and began worshipping at St Peter’s Church, in the Broadwater area.
So how did we end up here at Christ Church? Well in 2013, after a number of years trying desperately hard to ignore God’s prompting, I started exploring a call into ordained ministry. I embarked on this journey of discernment, learning more about the Church of England, more about myself, and more about what it would mean to be ordained as a Priest, all the while listening for God’s direction through
In March last year, I went to a Bishop’s Advisory Panel and was recommended for training. I looked into the options and courses and opted to train through the Eastern Region Ministry Course (ERMC). Some call this a part-time course (although often it feels more than full-time), some call it non-residential (yet we have 6 residential weekends and a full week too each year). Studying on a Regional Course, such as ERMC, means that I continue with my full-time paid employment in Aerospace Engineering, while I work and study towards ordination in my ‘spare’ time. Normally, with these Regional Courses, I would stay under the supervision of the incumbent at my home church (i.e. St Peter’s). Unfortunately (or fortunately?), my incumbent (Tim Horlock, some of you may know him!) moved to St Andrew’s Chorleywood leaving our church in vacancy, and left me needing to look for somewhere willing to take on an Ordinand (cue Christ Church, and a certain Revd Hookway).
Before Christmas I spent a bit of time finding out more about some of the activities Christ Church do, getting along to Seven, Messy Church, Encounter, and even PCC!! I hope to see more of what we do here at Christ Church over the coming weeks and months, as work, studying, residentials and life in general allows.
When I have time (not often with all that’s going on), I love spending time on my allotment growing (or trying to grow) a variety of fruit and veg – some of which have proven to be much more successful than others so there may be an abundant supply of courgettes at the back of church in the summer, and Brussel sprouts in the winter. I enjoy reading – anything fantasy, sci-fi, or crime based but Lee Child novels are a particular favourite. I also love walking/hiking when I get the chance (real hills only please) and I’m an avid fan of Sunderland Football Club (someone has to be and at the time of writing we’re still in the Premier League!!).
So, here I am, with Rebecca and the children, and for the next two and a half years we hope to be here worshipping with you at Christ Church, where I will be leading, preaching, and doing my best to be a general nuisance. If we haven’t had the chance to speak to you yet then please come and say hello.
All the best,