My ordination story: Jonny Bell

25 June 2024

Jonny Bell Portrait

The best way to describe my call to ordained ministry and, indeed, my life is as an assemblage. An assemblage is a sculpture made of other objects.

My life has been a mix of many different objects, some obviously going together and others disparate and discordant.

My call comprises different objects and is influenced by other objects. For as long as I can remember I have had a call to ordained ministry, which was first articulated when I was 8 years old.

We sat on the floor in school, and my teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said, “I want to be a priest.” Her reply, “Yes, I can see you doing that.”

This call has punctuated my life since then – from my teens, where I spent a couple of years attending a Methodist youth group and church, to my early and mid-twenties when I re-joined the church after completing university.

I was called to local preaching in 2011, and then I was ready to begin the process of candidating for ordained ministry when I was 30.

My childhood was far from happy and safe. These objects of abuse pressed in on other objects, sometimes denting or shattering others.

While knowing there was a call, the objects of self-belief and self-love had been twisted or replaced with self-hate to make me small. Even now, I am repairing the objects and returning those that were taken from me.

In this reparation and rebuilding, I have gained tremendous relationships. My beautiful, joyous and loving husband; my smart, strong and capable sister; the plethora of others who have built me up and given me so much; the many beloved people I serve in the appointment I am in.

I also want to understand the world God has given us, discern what and where God is at work, and use the tools of theology, philosophy, psychoanalysis, the arts, and more to wonder about this.

There have been many different objects that make up my call and my life, from heavy and painful ones to life-giving and exuberant ones.

All interact with each other and form the sculpture that is me, the pluriform and varied life I live, all strung together by the encompassing being of God.

My call has always weaved itself around the objects in my assemblage, perhaps as inevitable as God is, and perhaps helping me hold it together.

The assemblage of my life and the call within it has now created a unique symbiosis, which reflects the unique expression of ministry that I hope to continue offering the Church.