John was born in Oxford during the War, his father a minister, his mother a doctor. He grew up in Kilmarnock and then London. He studied Classics at University and then trained at New College in Edinburgh for the Church of Scotland ministry.
He worked for two years as a detached youth worker in Niddrie, an Edinburgh housing scheme during which period he married Mary (Sally Kuenssberg’s sister). After a Masters degree in theology at Union Seminary in New York he trained at Moray House Edinburgh as a teacher of Classics.
Then for thirty-seven years he was a parish minister in Glasgow’s Castlemilk housing scheme. At the outset, he and his wife Mary moved from the church’s manse in Rutherglen into a Corporation house up a close in the scheme where they raised their family of three children. Their local life included John chairing the local Youth Forum with its team of street-based youth workers, and being part of a Support Group for families suffering problems through drug misuse. Mary joined with other local mothers to start a parent and children group, the ‘Jeely Piece Club’. Later she trained as a Play Therapist to work with children with trauma.
In 2001-2 John had the honour of what he calls his ‘Gap Year’. He was the Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly. After retiring in 2007, John accompanied Mary to her work with HIV-Positive orphans in a rural hospital in Zimbabwe. John worked with the Presbyterian Church in Zimbabwe for five years. Since then, in this latest period of retirement they have both published books.