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St. Andrews Church Blog
Luke Paul PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Thursday, 07 June 2012 22:25

Luke Paul book cover

I finished reading Finlay Macdonald's new book "Luke Paul" this evening. Very Rev Dr Finlay Macdonald (to use the full title!) was Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland until his retirement, a past Moderator of the General Assembly, and before that a parish minister. He has written before and I also have a very helpful book of his on my shelves summarising some of the big debates in the history of the General Assembly, "Confidence in a Changing Church". "Luke Paul", however, is a rather different book in comparison to this earlier work.

This is a piece of historical fiction, if you will. It is the story of a parish minister, Rev Luke Paul, nearing his own retirement, living through the period October 2010 to May 2011, with the backdrop of a Church of Scotland that (like many denominations) is in the process of deciding whether to accept the ministry of gay and lesbian people living in committed relationships with their partners. Dr Macdonald has to be commended for writing a book that tries to do justice to the intricacy of the debates and history of debates, while also giving a flavour of the depth of feeling and real lives that are affected by these debates within the Kirk. He uses storytelling as the means to provide what, he states himself, he hopes will be a positive contribution to people's understanding within the Kirk of this issue. On the whole, in my opinion, I think he succeeds. [There's more...]

Local Walks PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 20:42

Walking in Redlees Quarry

First off, a big thank you to Andy Williamson and David Burt for stepping in to lead the worship on Sunday morning! I'm feeling a lot better, if still coughing and spluttering somewhat. Thanks for the prayers, folks!

I confess I have also missed most of the Jubilee celebrations for Her Majesty over the weekend - just not feeling up to watching much TV. We did, however, have our own belated celebrations for Robin's, ahem, 75th, with a festive union flag wrapped cake today!

In the evening, just as the clouds started to sprinkle we got out with Keely for her third walk of the day (truly spoiled today) to Redlees Quarry. I really appreciated getting out and about having been stuck at home for the past few days.

It is one of the delights of venturing back into dog ownership that you do get to explore many more of the local spots than you ever would without a beastie in tow. Two places we had never explored before (shameful, I know) have been the parkland around the old Priory where the football pitches are and the reclaimed Redlees Quarry. The latter we've been to regularly (in part also to get Keely used to the car, which is still troubling for her), but over the last couple of weeks they have really opened up the walks there with a number of new paths taking you around the site. It is great. [There's more...]

Spill the Beans, Issue 4, Now Available PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 00:39

Spill the Beans Issue 4

This one has been a long time coming, and apologies to all those (around 135 churches for Issue 3) that have been awaiting the next Issue. We had intended it to be available at the beginning of this month but my ill health rather got in the way of any extra-curricular activities, like editing together all the fab creative goodness from the team. However, finally, Issue 4 of Spill the Beans is here! This covers 3 June to 26 August, or Trinity Sunday to Pentecost 13 for the liturgical among us.

We're delving into the story of King David in this issue following 1 and 2 Samuel through the lectionary. It is quite a journey! We haven't skimmed over the tricky bits, but that does mean there are a couple of challenging albeit also helpful and enlightening weeks along the way. It is a worthwhile journey, however, and there is something each week for all ages.

If you'd like to download a copy of Issue 4 for use in your church or personally, then click the button below. It is an absolute bargain at only £12. You can make a secure payment via PayPal and then the file should wing its way to you.

Please note, when you have completed payment the window you will see has a yellow button saying "Return to Merchant". You must click on this button in order to get to the page where you can download the file. There is no other way to receive the file or link code to the file, it is not emailed to you. You have 24 hours to download the file, so if there is a glitch in the download, you can try again within that time. The Adobe pdf file is approximately 5 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 4, 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.

Refreshing Refreshments PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Monday, 28 May 2012 02:06

Fruit Juice Cocktails

We always have refreshments in the form of tea, coffee and squash after the service, but this morning we had a wee treat with Jim Brown serving fruit juice cocktails with a very fine collection and the ability to mix your own exceedingly delicious refreshment. On such a hot day, this was indeed a refreshing refreshment.

It would be lovely to have this each week in the hot weather, but this was a special as the juices came from a Boys Brigade fund raiser for the World Mission Council and their work in Zambia.

Perhaps icecream floats next week if the weather stays good? Anyone?

Scoughall Success PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Sunday, 27 May 2012 21:32

Belatedly, a few pictures from last weekend's brilliant weekend away for members of Cosy Café Sundays. I became swallowed up in trying to finish editing Issue 4 of Spill the Beans as soon as I got back (and took a trip to visit the doctor!), but that is now finished, so I can catch up on these things!

We had a fabulous time. I was rather worried when we left Hillhouse Parish Church on Friday evening in our convoy of two minibuses and the luggage car when the rain started pouring down as we drove along the M8, and that evening it was pretty driech in Scoughall, just a few miles from North Berwick. But the weather just got better and better over the weekend so much so that instead of treking into Edinburgh on Sunday afternoon, we stayed at the campsite and played some wild games of nukemball! [There's more...]

Youth weekend is here... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Thursday, 17 May 2012 22:11


After many months of planning our first Cosy Café Sundays weekend away has arrived. We pick up two minibuses from the Blantyre Volunteer Group tomorrow and will set off to a sunny (I hope) Scoughall near North Berwick for the weekend. We're staying at the Scripture Union Scotland campsite that is right on the beach.

We have 18 young people and 9 leaders, a full programme, and what should be the makings of a fantastic time together.

Please keep us all in your prayers over the weekend.

Running the race... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Monday, 14 May 2012 22:21

Maureen and Susan

A big pat on the back and well done to Maureen and Susan for competing in a very wet 10k run on Sunday 13 May, raising some extra funds for the Guides' trip to Switzerland in the process. I believe Joy was also running but was a wee bitty faster and was already off home by the time Maureen and Susan finished!

Making your purchases go further PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 17:46

Raise money for St Andrew's Parish Church Blantyre

While I usually use our easyfundraising link when purchasing from the likes of Amazon or Argos, I had an email from Margaret Crookston (our fund-raising guru) today that mentioned she had shopped around for new home insurance via easyfundraising and in the process raised £30 for the church while at the same time saving herself some money. It really is that easy to make your pennies go a little further and support the church when purchasing via easyfundraising with no extra cost to ourselves.

Here's my appeal:

I'm helping St Andrew's Parish Church Blantyre to raise money whenever I shop online - could you do the same?

It's very simple - just visit http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/standrewsnblantyre/ to register and shop with over 2000 well known retailers like Amazon, Argos, M&S, eBay and many more. Whenever I buy something, the retailer makes a donation to St Andrew's Parish Church Blantyre. They've helped other causes raise over £2,000,000 so it really does work.

I'd be really grateful if you could use easyfundraising too. It won't cost you a penny extra to shop through easyfundraising and you can even save money with special offers and voucher codes.

Plus, if you register before 1st May you'll automatically receive one entry into a free prize draw to win an Apple iPod Touch complete with Sony docking station worth over £450 - all courtesy of Viking!

So please make a difference to St Andrew's Parish Church Blantyre and take a look at easyfundraising today - http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/standrewsnblantyre/

Please give it a try and make a link to the sites you often use through easyfundraising a normal part of your routine. That's all it takes.

[UPDATE: I arranged pet insurance through John Lewis via easyfundraising this evening! There is a huge range of retailers.]

Blantyre in Bloom PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Monday, 16 April 2012 09:33

Planter at Front Door

The front of the church was looking fabulous in the sunshine this weekend after some hard work from the Material Action Group (thanks, particularly, to Geoff) in the final part of a project sponsored by Pride of Place to improve the exterior environment around the church. This included the new signage at the front, replenishing the 'chuckies' and a number of large (and heavy) plant pots to replace the previous pots that sadly were repeatedly vandalised.

Many thanks to Pride of Place for supporting this improvement.

Pride of Place

Nature or Grace, revisited PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Monday, 16 April 2012 00:16

Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site

I can't help continuing to ponder the amazing Terrence Malick film "The Tree of Life" that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. The above is an excellent reflection from Father Barron on the film, touching on our experiences of suffering, the story of Job, and God's role in it all.

I particularly appreciated how he acknowledges that we should not see nature or grace as simply bad and good. Rather they are both necessary, but the balance between them is the dance of creativity that God exhibits through the creation, and indeed the dance we recognise in our own lives as we try to understand, comprehend and make sense of our lives and our purpose in life.

Clarifications over Closures PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Saturday, 14 April 2012 17:33

Jigsaw Puzzle

A few folks mentioned to me that I had been name-checked in the Hamilton Advertiser in the issue published this past Thursday. One reference was to the mock wedding with a Primary 3 class from David Livingstone Memorial Primary School which I have already blogged about, whereas the other reference (on the same page of the Advertiser) was of a rather different order in an article about church closures in Blantyre.

I would not ordinarily use this blog for this purpose, but as I was specifically named in the article inaccurately, I feel compelled to correct what was said in the article. Alas, the journalist from the Hamilton Advertiser did not contact me to confirm the details in the story before adding my name. This is always somewhat frustrating. [There's more...]

Rice, Trade and Justice PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Friday, 13 April 2012 15:44

Today was an enjoyable day spent in the company of three gentlemen I had not met before (though life is never quite that distant...), Howard Msukwa and Henry Kalomba, both from Malawi, and their host in Scotland, John Riches (with whom it turns out I do have a connection as he plays in a music group with my mum in Glasgow!).

Howard and Henry were over in Scotland sponsored by the Scottish Fair Trade Forum for two weeks to visit different groups across the nation to bring some insight into the local situation in Malawi and encourage us to think more about fair trade issues.

Howard is a rice farmer in North Malawi, and also the current chairman of a large association of farmers in that region. Henry works for NASFAM, the National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi, which has oversight for and works with the regional associations to help the small farm owners to think beyond seeing their farming as subsistence farming, and more as a business that can benefit their families and community. [There's more...]

New arrival... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:22


A new arrival in the Johnston household... Keely, a Scottish Collie (because we wanted a breed that didn't shed... ha ha ha) who we picked up yesterday from Ayrshire. A 16 week old pup, and a little overwhelmed at the moment, so here's hoping she settles in quickly. The name is a gaelic girls name meaning "graceful and beautiful".

We've been talking about getting a dog for a few months now, and decided after our rather stressful time with our last rescue dog (for whom we still have a soft spot despite the hassle she caused, and God bless our good friends Ian and Anne who took her in) that we would get a pup this time.

We're not quite sure if we are mad or not... though that wee face...

Releasing the Alleluias! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Monday, 09 April 2012 16:20

Some Easter Day fun!

Don't forget we have a facebook page now (http://www.facebook.com/standrewsblantyre) which you can 'Like' and keep up-to-date with news if you are on facebook.

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