Getting to know you – Jim Grier

Tell us a little bit about yourself….

I grew up in Springburn, Glasgow with my mother, father and younger brother. We lived in a tenement, a room and kitchen with a shared toilet on the half landing on the stair, with three other families. In the last three and a half years I was at school I had a free school dinner ticket as my father was unable to work through ill health, but I was always sent out clean, smart and well fed. Breakfast was porridge or cereal and a fried piece, a slice of square loaf fried in lard, “real healthy eating”and yum yum.

I left school at fifteen with my three year leaving certificate in all subjects and began an apprenticeship. People speak about stereotypes, but how many know what a stereotype actually is? It is a duplicate printing plate. I did a six year apprenticeship to become a Stereotyper Electrotyper. I am also a skilled floor sweeper! Stereotyping was invented in round about 1814 by a man called Earl Stanhope, because of the growing demand for Bibles with the advent of the Bible societies. Up until that time the Bible was printed from the original type. That method had the disadvantage that the print run was limited to about 25,000 copies and the type had to be reset. That was expensive and time consuming. With stereotyping a papier mache mould was taken and you can take ten to fifteen casts of each mould. Making the process cheaper and quicker. An electrotype has a copper printing surface allowing for much greater print runs and detail. They were made by taking a vinyl mould of the type and growing a copper shell on the mould by electrolysis in a copper sulphate vat and then backing it up with molten lead, which distorted the shell and then from the back I hammered it flat.

I left my trade in 1974 and became a sales representative most of the time designing and selling business systems. From 1977 until 1985 I worked for a company called Kalamazoo and when you exceeded your sales quota you qualified to go on what they described as an incentive weekend and the last one my wife went on was a long weekend in Rome and we stayed in the Sheraton Roma hotel.

A year later things were very different, no company car and expenses replaced by a bus that never came or that’s what it felt like. What happened was my wife came in with papers in her hand in August 1983 and said “ If I did not try I would never know.” And what that was, I was to enroll for evening classes at Bishopbriggs High School to study for my English higher. I did and passed with a C. English was not my thing as you will realise as you read this. The next year I did History at Bishopbriggs and Economics at Anniesland College; I got A’s; they are more my thing. I applied to the Church and was accepted as a candidate for the ministry after a selection school in April 1985. With my highers I was accepted for a place at the University of Glasgow and there in the October exactly thirty years after I left school, and after four years graduated with a BD. I was licenced in Glasgow Cathedral by the Presbytery of Glasgow on the 3rd of July 1985 and I was ordained in Kilmore Church on the Isle of Skye April 1991. The rest as they say is history.

What do you miss about being a parish minister?
And What makes your heart sing?

I was asked “Did I miss the ministry?”. My answer is no. The last year I worked full time, I rested to be able to work. I found ministry very demanding. Now I have the garden, to say I am keen is an understatement. Two one hour spells in the morning, and the paper and puzzles in the afternoon.

I was asked what made my heart sing, easy, Rangers winning.


It’s had a wee break over the recent magazines, but our ‘interview with…’ series is back! These interviews have some light hearted moments and some serious bits too! However, we hope that they are informative and help you get to know someone in our Church Family.


1 – We of course know you are Susan McGleish, daughter of June and Stan Cook and big sister to Jillian. But, tell us something about you that we might not know.
* Hopeless at sports all my life and my one and only sporting trophy was in 1984 for being in the highest rink up in the junior open day at Bellshill and Mossend bowling club.

2 – Tell us why you’re glad you are a member of this congregation.
* The church family is my second family and always there to help and support. There have been some really dark periods in my life and if it hadn’t been for my church I don’t think I’d gotten through them.

3 – What is your favourite Hymn or Song?
* Mega mega difficult one! For those of you who know me I love music and singing so I have loads and loads of favourites! I do really like “Be still for the presence of the Lord”. Had that at both my wedding and Lyle’s baptism.

4 – Complete this sentence: “God is calling this congregation to be …”.

Welcoming, inclusive, non-judgmental and approachable. There is room for all no matter what.

5 – What do you do in your spare time?
* What is spare time lol??? I’ve just started taking up jogging again with the goal of running a 10k in June hopefully. Also like cooking and running after Lyle and looking after our 2 dogs Harris and Flora.

6 – If you could be someone else (or a super hero) just for one day who would it be and why.
* Anyone who stars in a West end musical as I could sing all day till my heart’s content!!

7 – How has being part of this congregation helped you and members of your family grow in faith?
* I’ve attended church now since I was a few months old and I’m going to be 50 in August and watched it changed over the years. It is great to see how the church is embracing the younger generations and making them so much part of what we do within the church and I’ve been fortunate in that my about to be 16 year old son is still attending regularly. There is nothing better than hearing the voices of children during the service.

From South Africa to Bellshill…

south africa gatwick

Kevin and his family arrived in Scotland in 2015, and sensed a calling to the West of Scotland and set up temporary home in the North Road, Bellshill. How fortunate were we at Bellshill Central that God’s call was to Bellshill? The children settled in Bellshill Academy and Mossend Primary Schools and Kevin set about his familiarisation process with the Church of Scotland. We recently asked the family about how they have settled into Bellshill, Bellshill Central and community life here in Mossend and Bellshill.

1. Tell us what you miss most about South Africa?
Kevin … I miss the sense of colour and diversity. I worked with a wide variety of cultures in South Africa and, even though it could be extremely challenging, I sensed that this experience and exposure equipped me for life in a way that few other countries could.
Cheryl … I miss the gift of lifelong friends. There is a real gift in friendships that have been forged over decades. I miss that sense of being with people who have known me my whole life. The same can be said of family. It was difficult leaving my parents in South Africa. Yes and of course there is the weather. The weather in Joburg is amazing
Michael … I miss the specific culture and diversity present in South Africa. It really felt as if I was living in a unique place at a unique time. It really felt as if I would not have got that experience of life anywhere else.
Sarah … I miss the wonderful food, as well as friends. I could not walk to my friend’s houses (like I do in Scotland) but I enjoyed my time spent with friends. I also miss the swimming pools – one at the school and one at my grandparent’s house.

2. What are you enjoying most about being in the West of Scotland?
I love the people in the West of Scotland. I enjoy the fact that they call a ‘spade a spade’ and that certainly keeps me on my toes. I also enjoy our home city – Glasgow, as it reminds me of the Joburg of my youth and it is a city with an incredible sense of character and history.
Cheryl… I love the beauty that is on offer in the West of Scotland. We seldom have to travel very far to find ourselves in the countryside and, of course, there are wonderful parks where I can go walking with Marlowe. The people have also been openhearted and welcoming, which has made the transition to another country easier than I would have expected it to be.
Michael… I am enjoying the friendships I have cultivated in the West of Scotland. The people that I have met are much better suited to my personality here. Even more important than the gift of friends is the gift of education. The schooling in Scotland is excellent and I feel that Bellshill Academy has nurtured my academic ability in a way that the South African system simply could not offer.
Sarah… I enjoy the fact that I have made new friends and that I can walk to their houses. There are also a host of activities and opportunities that are offered by the school and the council. I live an active life here and enjoy the opportunities offered. I also enjoy the food that is on offer in the West of Scotland as I am always eager to try new things.

3. What are the main differences in ministering between South Africa and Bellshill?
Ministry in South Africa is incredibly stressful. This was not necessarily bad as I felt that it encouraged clear thinking and careful planning. I am, however, enjoying the rhythm of life and ministry in Scotland as there is more opportunity to be creative. One simple example – I have got used to one service on a Sunday as my experience in South Africa could vary from 2 services through to 5 services on a Sunday (and each service was different)

4. We’re told that the church nationally is in decline, what are some of the ways you have tried to tackle this?
My perspective is that the church is always going through seasons. This seems to be a winter for the Church of Scotland, but there are real signs of life. Of course I can only speak of my personal experience. What I have found is that there is still a deep respect for the church but that people have lost a little confidence in sharing their faith. I have engaged 2 strategies. The first is to become known in the wider community by being prepared to respond to the opportunities for ministry (I have been invited to officiate at a few services in the community and I have also been invited to minister at both Mossend Primary and Lawmuir Primary). The second is to develop resources that help equip people to talk about their faith and to share their faith in a nonthreatening way. One such resource is First Steps and I encourage people to ask for a copy of the book as it is a resource that people can read at their leisure and also share with others as an invitation to exploring faith.

5. You must have faced challenges in your time so far in Bellshill Central, what were these?
It is incredibly challenging to adjust to a new country and its culture. There is a wonderful gift in learning from people who understand and experience the Christian faith in different ways to what you are used to. The challenge, however, is to make sure that you are building bridges that facilitate conversations about faith, hope, and love. Of course there are practical challenges – the financial costs of settling into a new country, the adjustments needed to appreciate different accents, and the need to win people’s confidence in your ministry and your ministry style. God has been gracious and I sense that the ministry offered at Bellshill Central is bearing fruit.

6. In the last two years, what have been key developments within Bellshill Central? How have these benefited you and our congregation?
The organ, the music, and the development of the choir have proved significant. It is a real gift to work with such a committed organist (Alan Mathew) and we work well together in an effort to offer a meaningful act of worship.
Worship is central to the church’s self-understanding and we are now at a stage where we are confident that we can offer this act of worship to a wider audience via the web. This is a key development as it has ensured that we see ourselves as part of a worldwide community and there are people who value worshipping with us (even when they are on the other side of the world).

7. Looking ahead over the next 5 years, what do you see as our aims and goals as a Church in our community?
Since I have arrived at Bellshill Central I have sensed the value of 3 words that I believe prove helpful in appreciating our gifts and our ministry and mission. These words are: Worship. Welcome. Witness.
The value of these 3 words are that they are true to our mission statement and they also serve as words that are relatively easy to remember as a plumb line against which we can measure how well we are doing.
I have already mentioned worship and it is humbling to sense that we can now worship with people scattered all over the world. This enlarges our sense of vision and is a reminder that we belong to a worldwide family.
We are often affirmed as to the sense of welcome that we offer at Bellshill Central. We cannot browbeat people into an experience of God’s grace and love. We can, however, encourage people to know that they are welcome to visit, to participate, and hopefully to join with us in the act of worship and service.
The third word is a tricky one. To witness to the Reign of God is difficult and so many of us would prefer to remain quiet about our religious convictions. There are ways in which we can witness that do not need to be arrogant and certain, but can still be confident and offered with a sense of conviction. It is to this end that I have worked on ‘First Steps’ and spend a significant amount of time working on videos for YouTube that people can share quite comfortably via Facebook. This has taken quite a lot of prayer, effort, and patience…but it does encourage me to know that people have now watched the series ‘First Steps’ for a total exceeding 100 hours. We have received positive feedback as people find that they are being encouraged to live out their faith where they are.

8. Michael and Sarah, What are you hopes and aspirations for the future, what do you hope to do once you leave school?
My main goal is to go on to university and study chemistry at a higher level, so that I may qualify for industry or research roles. Since I have come to Scotland, chemistry and mathematics have quickly become my favourite subjects.
I am also working on my skills as a guitar player and hope to achieve a higher music qualification this year. I am also hoping to achieve a Duke of Edinburgh bronze award.
Sarah… I love the arts and the wonders of self-expression. I am hoping to pursue a career in film, but I change my mind quite often. I love the different options at school and I have already appeared on Sky television and in various school plays. I am excited by future possibilities and challenges.

9. Cheryl, we know you enjoy reading and writing. Do you have any more books underway?
What do you do for relaxation, do you share Kevin’s enthusiasm in rugby and golf?

Cheryl…I have plenty of books within me waiting to be written. The most immediate book seeking a voice is a memoir, detailing the call that led me from practising as a speech therapist to embracing a more ministerial and writing vocation. My Masters in Theology, specialising in Christian Spirituality affirmed this path. My passion for spirituality, psychology, dream work, and theology continues to guide my reading material. Hopefully, in time, I will come to produce written resources for use within the church community, whether that be for use in workshops, retreat work, small groups, or one-on-one sessions.
As to relaxation, over the years I have explored the arts – pottery and painting; reading fiction, watching movies or listening to music. With the move to a new country I will have to slowly re-stock some painting tools and resources, so in the meantime relaxation means walks with Marlowe, taking in the beauty of a new country, long chats with Kevin pertaining to our shared passions, and simply time spent together as a family.
Finally my personal favourite for sport includes gymnastics (I was a provincial gymnast) and horse-riding, but I do enjoy quality time watching golf, cricket, and tennis with Kevin

south africa gatwick

Interview with Peggy Walker 

​We continue our regular “Interview with” series at Bellshill Central Parish Church.   This time we speak with Peggy Walker.   Next issue we hope to speak with our older ladies and gents to give an insight into our church and community in past and recent times.  

1) How long have you been coming to Bellshill Central? 

I came to Bellshill Central (then Macdonald Memorial) for the first time on a Sunday at the beginning of April in 1969, having just got married and moved to Mossend.   

2) What drew you to come to Bellshill Central? 

I have to admit the answer to that is – sheer laziness.  It was common, at that time, to continue attending the Church where you had grown up but I knew I was never going to be able to get to my ‘home’ Church in time; two buses or a four-mile walk; just not happening!  I am not a morning person.  It made more sense to take a two-minute walk just around the corner.   

3) What is your favourite Hymn or Song? 

I have so many favourite hymns!  When we were asked some months ago to nominate a hymn, I chose ‘Lord, You Have Come To The Seashore,’ which we sang again in Church just a few weeks ago.  I also like so many others including ‘On Eagle’s Wings,’ and ‘I Watch The Sunrise.’  None of these is in Mission Praise but I have lots of other favourites which are in that hymn book.   

4) What do you do in your spare time? What’s that?  

My dad used to tell me that time went faster as you got older.  I laughed; what nonsense! But of course, it is true.  I enjoy walking, preferably around shops, or in the countryside.  Sitting doing nothing is excellent too and it is good fun to spend some time at Orbiston Neighbourhood Centre, helping in a small way with the excellent services on offer there.  Doing lunch with various friends and cousins takes up a bit of time and, of course, I operate Granny Cabs as and when required; on a zero hours contract.   

5) If you could change anything in the world what would it be? 

There would be quite a list but, basically, I’d like to see a much fairer society.  The huge differentials between the top and the bottom earners would come to an end.  Since the Living Wage in Scotland is £8.45 an hour, maybe the Chief Executives of all the big organisations should be paid just that.  Companies, particularly large multi-nationals, who do not pay their fair share of tax would not be allowed to trade.  Maybe tax should be levied on turnover rather than profit to make it easier to monitor and more difficult to avoid.   

6) What event has most affected your faith and how has your faith changed throughout your life. 

That’s difficult to answer.  My mother/father/aunts/uncles/cousins all attended their various Churches.  I was brought up in Sunday School/Bible Class/Church.  It was the natural thing to do.  I’ve always attended Church.  I don’t think there was ever a ‘light bulb’ moment in my life.  I was always taught that you should ‘Do unto others as you would like to be done by.’  I think that is the Christian Faith in a nutshell.  When I moved to Mossend, the folk at Macdonald Memorial put effort into making me feel welcome.  Albert Thompson, the Minister at the time, came around to the house within a few days to say ‘Hello.’   My Elder then was Wee Davey, whom most of the people reading this will remember.  He was brilliant.  When our first daughter arrived on the scene, the Young Wives & Mothers Group came knocking the door and encouraged me to get involved.  There was no creche at that time, so mostly I went along to Evening Services at the Church.  The people who attended took turns at delivering the flowers after worship so Jessie Peat got me involved in that.  When my daughters were old enough for the Beginners Class at Sunday School, Miss Gallagher had me holding up pictures for the kids while she told the stories; soon I was helping to tell the stories.  Alexa had the kids singing all the choruses.  When it was my turn to be President of the Young Wives, Betty Toal and Doreen Tweedie were there to offer support.  So lots of people have had a positive influence on me.   

7) What is the best thing about the Church? 

As explained above – People make the Church.  Of course, there are also our wonderful windows which display the Bible in all its glory from Genesis right through to Revelations.   

8) If you could be someone else (or a super hero) just for one day who would it be and why. 

No thanks.  Other people might seem to have a charmed life but things are not always as rosy as they appear.