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St. Andrews Church Blog
The God Question PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Monday, 25 March 2013 18:14

Discussion with The God Question

With a group of around a hundred other folks, I travelled through the snow on Saturday morning to Chatelherault Country Park where a breakfast conference was being held to launch some new discussion materials.

We met inside the country house, rather a nice wee pile, for bacon rolls before heading to the auditorium for the presentation by the folks from Search for Truth Enterprises. The discussion materials are called “The God Question” and comprise the usual DVDs and study books. The main areas covered are “The Cosmos and God”, “Life, Evolution and God”, and “God and Consciousness”. I confess I went with a healthy dose of scepticism as someone who has, for my own personal reasons relating to my own background in science, done considerable reading around all three of these subjects over the years. However, I was heartened by what I heard. [There’s more…]

More on Livingstone's Legacy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Saturday, 23 March 2013 14:11

This past week has been very Livingstone focused! It has been a good week and I had hoped to put down some thoughts before this but this has been the first moment to stop and breathe!

After the events last Sunday which I mentioned in a previous blog post, on the actuall bicentenary of Dr David Livinsgtone's birth, 19 March, there were a number of events to commemorate this anniversary. The first took place in the David Livingstone Centre and was a great morning with lots of involvement from local schools, music and drama (with a wonderful performance from Toto Tales as Susi and Chumah, Livingstone's companions, recounted their travels with Livingstone) and the offical opening of a new exhibit in the museum. [There's more...] 

In memory of Sheila PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Monday, 18 March 2013 15:31

Presentations at Auchinraith

It was a privilege this morning to join John Prentice and family and friends for a special presentation held at Auchinraith Primary School. In memory of their gran, Sheila Prentice, Ellie and Ross presented two cheques of £870 each to Marie Cure Cancer Care and Macmillan Cancer Support. Ellie and Ross had spent many, many hours creating bracelets (some of which were available at the funeral service for Sheila in the church) which were given away to encourage people to make a donation for these two charities. They did an amazing job, and it was great to see all the pupils at Auchinraith singing Fischy Music's "You are a star" to them.

Every blessing to Anne Jarvie from Marie Curie Cancer Care and Chloe Martin from Macmillan Cancer Support as they support the work of these charities, and to Julie McCulloch and everyone at Auchinraith for making this presentation such a special event.

Blantyre's Bairn PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Monday, 18 March 2013 13:57

Livingstone Bicentenary Service

Yesterday afternoon, Sunday 17 March, one of the events to mark the bicentenary of the birth of the most famous of Blantyre Bairns, Dr David Livingstone, was held in Livingstone Memorial Parish Church. From our lofty perch in the gallery we joined in the worship led by a number of ministers both from Scotland and Malawi. The sermon was given by Rt Rev Albert Bogle, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rev David Burt blessed a set of pulpit and lectern falls as Moderator of Hamilton Presbytery, while prayers were led by Rev Dr T Nyasulu, Moderator of Livingstonia Synod, and Rev Mercy Chilapula, Moderator of Blantyre Synod, in Malawi. As you can tell, the service was very well moderated!

As part of the celebrations of Livingstone's bicentenary, and as part of a number of events taking place in Scotland and London, both Her Excellenecy Mrs Joyce Banda, President of Malawi, and Alex Salmond MSP were present with Mrs Banda reading from Isaiah (49:1-7) during the service, and with Mr Salmond giving a note of thanks and cutting a celebratory cake after the service.

[There's more...] 

Clarity, Reality and the Word of God PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 01:02


In the post yesterday I received a DVD titled "Facing the Reality: Can someone in a same-sex relationship be a Christian minister?" These are being sent out to all ministers in the Church of Scotland. I heard about the video last week and watched it via YouTube (a link is below the jump).

I have subsequently heard that this is the result of a meeting back in 2011 when around 50 ministers of a "traditionalist" stance within the Kirk asked themselves how they could express their view in "a thoughtful and gracious rather than rabid and homphobic" way. They raised the money to finance the production of the film, commissioning Sanctus Media to make it.

There is little new within the content of the film, which rehearses the same arguments I have read and heard many times, but the tone of the film is certainly an improvement on past interventions into the Kirk's ongoing discussions on the place and role of gay and lesbian people within the church. In the debates of 2009 we had some conservative ministers referred to as "terrorists", and the fight to prevent the acceptance of the ministry of gay and lesbian people likened to defending against Nazi expansionism. From both extremes of the debate, not very edifying or helpful. So it is good to see a less harsh and aggresive presentation of the "traditionalist" position within the film. However, as much as I am thankful for that more generous presentation, nonetheless it is the content that I cannot reconcile. [There's more...]

The Last Days... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Thursday, 21 February 2013 23:11

Witness Chair

Almost every week I share an hour with a friend from Trinity Parish Church while we wait as one of my kids and her two grandchildren are at guitar class. Our venue is the coffee shop at the East Kilbridge Arts Centre. On numerous occasions over the past couple of years I have seen plays advertised and thought to myself I'd really like to see that, but the business of life and lack of free nights has always put paid to those notions. However, last Thursday I noticed the posters for a play by Stephen Adly Guirgis titled "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot". That fairly piqued my interest and when I got home and checked the diary, I decided to hang with it, a few hours relaxation surely need to be scheduled sometimes! So I booked a ticket for tonight's performance.

Needless to say, as the day has come around I started wishing I had not booked it as I have a pile of "to-dos" weighing down. But, having paid my £9 (you see there is a bit of Aberdonian in me!), I trekked back over to East Kilbride for the third time today (first time for a meeting with churches, second time for guitar classes) and I am so very glad that I did, even though I am going to pay for it for the rest of the night/tomorrow!

What a full house in the cosy theatre were treated I found to be an extremely powerful exploration, in turns viciously funny, poignant and deeply emotional, of both the wonder and desolation of free will. The performance was by the HND Acting and Performance students from Motherwell College. They excelled themselves. I was very impressed. [There's more...]

Sad Farewells PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Thursday, 14 February 2013 19:55

Friends at St Andrew's will be saddened to hear of the deaths of Sheila Prentice and John Brownlie in the past week. Sheila was always such a wonderful joyful presence in the church, and John, as our senior elder, was a quiet and deeply faithful member of the Kirk, yet always with a glimmer in his eye and a ready smile. They will be both much missed by us all, and our prayers go with both their families, particularly for John and for Marion. Through our sadness at our loss, we rejoice that both Sheila and John, after considerable time with ill health, are now at peace in the loving presence of God.

The funeral service for Sheila will be held on Saturday morning, 16 February, at 9:15 a.m. in St Andrew's Parish Church, with the committal following at Philipshill Cemetery in East Kilbride. Tea after the service is at the Torrance Hotel in East Kilbride Village.

John's service will also take place in the church, on Monday 18 February at 10:45 a.m. with the committal following at South Lanarkshire Crematorium. A tea will follow back in St Andrew's Church Hall.

If you are able, please do come to share in these services of celebration for the lives of two faithful servants.

News from Aberdeen PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 10:38

Welcome Banner

This past weekend I was preaching as sole-nominee at Ferryhill Parish Church in Aberdeen. We were made to feel very welcome by everyone which made the day that little easier - it is an odd feeling to be leading worship with the additional knowledge that judgement is awaiting imminently! There is none of that 'don't count the days' thing that Jesus talked about...

There was great affirmation for us, however, with a unanimous vote. I have duly accepted, so the processes of the Kirk will begin their activity towards an induction date which will take place probably some time in June.

The long gap between now and then still makes it a little unreal, but there is a lot to do in the time between, so the time will no doubt pass quickly.

Time to pack up now, I write from our hotel room in Aberdeen, for our return to Blantyre later today.

Foodbank Funding Beetles On PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Saturday, 02 February 2013 22:56

Beetle Drive 1

We had a very fun night this evening in the Nazarene Hall with a Beetle Drive organised to raise funds for the developing new Hamilton District Foodbank. It was a competitive night, but with a lot of laughter too. Congratulations to Alice Jamieson who was the champion beetle driver!

Thanks to everyone who donated prizes and homebakes, and to Nicola, Linda, Marion, Elizabeth, Karen, Geoff and everyone else who helped get the evening planned and set up. [There's more...]

Announcement PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Sunday, 20 January 2013 16:15

This morning was a morning I have not been looking forward to for some two weeks. I thank everyone for their kind words this morning, it meant a tremendous amount to Carolyn and me.

I wanted to put online a copy of the statement I read after the service and that was available for people to pick up after the service this morning. It seems that we ran out of printed copies of the letter, so I will make sure there are a few more copies available next week. 

However you can download a copy of it here. And the full text of what I said is below the jump. [There's more...]

Spill the Beans Issue 7 has risen! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Saturday, 19 January 2013 23:26

Spill the Beans Issue 7

It has been quite some feat by the Spill the Beans Team to pull this off over the festive season, but after a crazy deadline of 31 December for all the writing, the next issue of Spill the Beans is now beautifully formed and available for download. This is the Lent to Pentecost edition that sees us from 17 February all the way to 19 May 2013! And this edition is not limited just to Sundays, you also get ideas for each day of Holy Week too. It is a large issue.

Inside you will find worship ideas and resources, including Bible notes, stories, prayers, reflections, music suggestions, and more, and for age groups you will find suggestions for activities, crafts, games and teen discussion resources.

If you have already used Spill the Beans, you will know what a great resource this is, created by folks here in Scotland. If you haven't, but are intrigued, have a look at this sample.

If you'd like to download a full copy of Issue 7 for use in your church or personally, then click the button below. It is a positive steal at only £12. You can make a secure payment via PayPal and then an email with secure link to the download should wing its way to you.

Please follow the instructions carefully. The Adobe pdf file is approximately 4 MB.

Buy Now and Download

You can also get involved in feedback and discussion on the Spill the Beans blog, where we try to put up weekly PowerPoint backgrounds too.

If you would like a print copy of Spill the Beans, Issue 6, then this can be arranged. The cost is £20+P&P and these can be arranged directly with the office at Lanark Greyfriars Church. Each issue is in full colour and comb bound for ease of use. We have had to raise the costs of the print copy from our initial issues as we have found the original costs were not covering the costs of producing the copies.

If you would like to order copies (which are all printed to order so there may be a few days to wait before you receive yours) then you can email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with your order details. An invoice will be issued after dispatch of your order. If you prefer you can contact Greyfriars Church Office on 01555 661510 and place your order over the phone.

Packaging and Perceptions PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:42

Joshua Bell in Washington DC

I saw this morning a circular post on facebook that is the kind of thing that I would normally ignore, but this one I found fascinating. It is made that wee bit more interesting by being true too. It centres around world famous violinist Joshua Bell, who I once saw playing in London many years ago at a concert in the Royal Festival Hall - he is a wonderful performer. The post being circulated is about an experiment carried out by a journalist, Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post, in 2007.

Have a read below the jump to see what they did. [There's more...] 

Strictly Come Jesus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Wednesday, 26 December 2012 15:05

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Uz!, the youth group at St Andrew's with some guest appearances, excelled themselves with their imaginative efforts, creativity and hard work in putting together the Watchnight Service as is the tradition each year. The theme this year was "Strictly Come Jesus", and we had a very motley crue attempting to be present at the birth...

This was one of our more ambitious Watchnight services (about as intense as The Lord of the Kings ten years ago!) and kudos to everyone for their hard work and patience during the long hours of filming.

Thanks to Lindsey Cooper on a flying visit back to Scotland for her creative input at the planning meeting - I think Lindsey can be blamed for the title, if I remember correctly!

After the break I will add the final live performance from the service itself once it is edited.

Note, you may need Quicktime installed (free here) to see the video if it will not play, and it may need to download first which might take a minute or two depending on the speed of your connection - please be patient! Note this is a large file - be careful if downloading over a mobile network! You can download a high definition version here (500MB, so be warned).

Calderside Christmas Concert PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 23:20

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Calderside Academy held their Christmas Concert this evening with a diverse but Christmas-themed programme. From dance to singing and instrumental solos, bands, and choirs, it was an excellent night and great to see so many young people confidently performing in front of the audience.

It was particularly good to see so many folks one knows well performing on the stage, and even a staff choir who did a fabulous job. I used my 'official' invitation which got me a great seat right down at the front, leaving the rest of the family ten rows behind - shocking! [There's more...]

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