Congratulations to Community Member John Bell who has been awarded the 2018 Thomas Cranmer Award – one of the annual Lambeth Awards presented by the Archbishop of Canterbury. These awards, launched by Archbishop Justin Welby in 2016, recognise outstanding service in different fields, including those of the Archbishop’s ministry priorities of prayer and the Religious life; reconciliation and peacebuilding; and evangelism and witness.
John’s citation was as follows:
The Reverend Dr John L Bell – The Thomas Cranmer Award for Worship, for his outstanding Christian witness, through hymn-writing, broadcasting and social action.
‘John Bell of the Iona Community’ has been for many years one of the most recognised voices on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, where his cogent and penetrating topical contributions reach an audience well beyond the churches. As a Church of Scotland minister, he is for many the best-known public face associated with the ecumenical Iona Community and one of its most eloquent exponents of the ecumenical spirit in Christianity.
His output in terms of hymn-writing has been prodigious – the Church Hymnary 4th Edn (2005) alone featured 60 of his texts and versions and nearly 100 tunes and arrangements. The Irish bishop and hymnal editor Edward Darling said that, in reflecting a national folk culture, ‘John Bell has done for hymnody in Scotland what Vaughan Williams did for hymnody in England’ but the appeal of his work goes far beyond Scotland and indeed, it is known worldwide.
His public speaking and his musical achievements have and continue to be at the service of a faith lived in social action. He has said that, ‘There is no dualism
between politics and piety’. In the mid-1980s he embarked, with others, on preparing young people dedicated to working with inner-urban communities. This gave rise to the Wild Goose Worship Group, which produced a range of worship material accessible to such communities and reflecting their problems and preoccupations.
John Bell has made an outstanding contribution in terms of Christian worship, witness and social action.