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…

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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.     

An interview with Betty Patrick

13567078_1031356903612309_8836356308204676550_nContinuing our effort to introduce the folks of Bellshill Central to the rest of the church family, visitors and the wider community we are interviewing various “well kent faces” from the congregation.  This time we interview choir member Betty Patrick, we hope you enjoy our fact finding time with Betty.

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

I have been coming to Bellshill Central for 3 years.

2) What drew you to come to Bellshill Central?

I was not happy at my other Church at that time and was only attending as I was a Member of the Church Choir.
Since my Husband died 5 years ago I have to sing. I always did but now it means so much more to me. I needed something to get me on my feet again and decided to change my Church. I came to hear Alan play the Organ at Bellshill Central as he had been Organist and Choirmaster at Williamwood when I attended there and I found the whole experience very pleasant and welcoming so I decided to join Bellshill Central

3) What is your favourite Hymn or Song?

This was a difficult choice as so many songs remind me of different stages in my life but after a great deal of thought I decided on the Hymn The King of Love my Shepherd is as this was sung at our Wedding.

4) What do you do in your spare time?

I am a Member of Strathaven Choral Society and have been for a few years. In past years I was a Member of the Apollo Players and took part I their productions in Theatres in Glasgow. This consisted of Musicals from the Sound of Music to Oklahoma and all the well known ones.
I am a Member of Clarkston Tennis and Bowling Club. This keeps me very busy as this year I am the President of the Bowling Club.
Of course I am also a Member of the Church Choir at Bellshill Central which I enjoy very much.

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

If the building of Bellshill Central Church could be demolished and along with the congregation transported nearer East Kilbride it would save me negotiating the Raith Interchange twice a week although I must admit things are improving when all the roads are open.

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

I was brought up attending Kings Park Parish Church – the Minister was the Rev. Robert Paterson. Kings Park was a very busy Church we had four services every Communion. It had a young congregation and we had an active Youth Fellowship and we put on Variety Shows and lots of activities throughout the year. This gave you a good start in learning about religion and laid the foundation stone for faith.
Sure my faith has changed throughout the years some for good reasons and some for bad but I put this down to life experience in bringing up a family and dealing with everyday life.

7) What is the best thing about the Church?

Since I came to Bellshill Central I have been made feel part of the congregation and everyone I have met has been very friendly. Especially the Choir who after all have known each other for a long time but I have not felt an outsider.

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

The answer to this question has given me a great deal of thought and worry. So after a few sleepless nights???? I have decided to stay as I am but try and improve myself in every way possible. This might be the easy way out!!!

An interview with Hugh Ainsley

Continuing our effort to introduce the folks of Bellshill Central to the rest of the church family, visitors and the wider community we are interviewing various “well kent faces” from the congregation.  This time we interview our friend Hugh Ainsley, who is also an Elder at Bellshill Central.

12973353_10153597006827613_796509675598373409_oMy first name is actually George. My father was George Henry Ainsley and was always called Harry, so I suspect that is why my parents always used my middle name.

I lived at home with my parents until I was 30 and in 1984 moved out, buying my first home in MacDonald Grove, Bellshill. As a child I had gone with my parents to Flowerhill Church in Airdrie but my mother stopped going to church when I was in my teens, although my father continued to attend. On moving to Bellshill I decided to try out my local church and enjoyed the services at Orbiston with minister Charlie Greig. I continued to attend Orbiston even after I moved to Larkhall and then after working for 8 months in the Middle East when I came back to Orbiston Martin Johnstone was the new minister.

It was Martin who asked me to become an elder, although I pointed out that I wasn’t good at talking to people and wouldn’t be comfortable doing elder visits. Because of this and also since I didn’t live in the parish I was given the postal district to take care of and also took on the role of looking after the church roll. By this time I had moved house again, back to my roots in Airdrie, just a mile from where my parents still lived, but I continue to attend Orbiston. When the churches were due to merge and there was a lot of uncertainty I considered moving to Calderbank church which is near where I stay but I decided to wait and see how the merger would go and made up my mind to decide once a new minister was appointed. As the churches merged I made many new friends from the MacDonald Memorial congregation and like I think all the other members I enjoyed working with our locum Iain and so I had made up my mind to stay unless I really didn’t like the new minister when he/she was appointed. (Kevin, I’m still here!)

My favourite hymn is probably “How Great Thou Art”, although I am also fond of any hymn sung to either Sibelius’s Finlandia or Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Another reason for my deciding to stay with Bellshill Central was my enjoyment of the organ and I have enjoyed working with Alan for many of our special events.

As you all know my day job is being a maths teacher at Larkhall Academy. For the past three and a half years I have been on phased retirement working only Monday to Wednesday. However I am kept extremely busy with a lot of voluntary work and (including the church board and session) I sit on about 10 different committees and so have meetings to attend most weeks. I am convener for Scottish Schools badminton and Area Organiser for Lanarkshire Schools badminton and also am a member of the Technical Commission for International Schoolsport Federation Badminton, being involved with the running of the World Schools championships every two years. Most recently this has taken me to Bulgaria, Malta and Taipei. If I am not in church on a Sunday I will usually be sitting at a desk with my laptop running a badminton event. I also am a member of Hamilton District Sports Council and I now do a lot of work for the United Kingdom Maths Trust, and have been a coordinator of maths competitions in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Carlisle.

When I am at home I enjoy working in my garden, reading books and listening to music. I enjoy classical music, particularly the works of Tchaikovsky and Wagner. My favourite classical singers are Placido Domingo and Jessye Norman and my favourite non classical artist is the French conductor Franck Pourcel who died in 2000. I am trying to complete my collection of all the tracks he ever recorded and have well over 100 CDs, LPs and tapes of his music. My music collection consists of around 2000 albums and my book collection is also well over 1000 so it is just as well that I am now progressing to having my music and literature on my kindle as I am running out of storage space.

I would like to see people throughout the world working together to avoid conflict. In the badminton world I have seen so many people each trying to do their own thing and not working with others for the better good. In my early years on the ISF technical commission we had difficulty at the meetings because my colleague from France didn’t speak good English and my French wasn’t good enough to follow a discussion in a meeting. I therefore think we need to do more to try to learn foreign languages as I don’t believe we should always expect everyone else to speak our language.

At school the three subjects I didn’t like were P.E., music and art. Strangely enough I then got involved with sport and have enjoyed playing tennis, golf, squash and badminton although the only one I still play is badminton. I also developed a liking for music but have never really got around to appreciating art.

My only relatives are 2 cousins, both of whom are older than me and we only meet 3 or 4 times a year. I find it difficult to make friends and am particularly uncomfortable in crowds unless I have a job to do and so enjoy the companionship of the church here at Bellshill Central.

An interview with Kevin de Beer

In a new venture, to introduce the folks of Bellshill Central to the rest of the church family, visitors and the wider community we are interviewing various “well kent faces” from the congregation.  We thought that we’d start with Rev Kevin de Beer, our minister.

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Kevin de Beer, our Minister

I’ve been at Bellshill Central for five months and one thing I love about our church is we at Bellshill Central are a warm and welcoming congregation.

Once upon a time … I had a dream to exercise ministry in a far away land. I did not pay much attention to it because my hands were full in South Africa and I sensed that I was making a contribution to both church and country. Can you imagine my surprise when that dream was fulfilled and I was accepted by the Church of Scotland to offer ministry in this beautiful country. It has been a remarkable privilege to have my call affirmed at Bellshill Central and I look forward to many years of fruitful service.

I find a lot of joy … in the simple gift of my family’s flourishing in Scotland. It was a significant risk to start over in a new country, but it is a real joy to see my family thriving.

I am not fashionable but … I take delight in discovering the uniqueness of my voice and gifts. In some ways I sense that I should have been born about twenty years earlier, in that my fashion sense is about twenty years out of date.  Do not tell it to anyone, but I still get the “shivers” when I hear Barry Manilow singing one of his sappy love songs.  I am relieved, however, to have grown up in a world that is graced by Michael Buble…the voice, the presence and the style gives me hope that some modern music will be able to match the likes of Phil Collins, Rod Stewart and Elton John.

Tell us what drew you to being the Minister/Pastor for Bellshill Central Parish Church?
   When we arrived in Scotland for my assessment conference in April 2015 we had to discern whether God would want us in the West or the East. I have always had a sense that “West is Best” as I was raised in Florida, which is on the west side of Johannesburg. The decision was also facilitated by the fact that Cheryl’s grandfather was born in Glasgow and thus coming to the West was a little like ‘coming home’.
   At the hotel where we were staying during the assessment conference, Jamie Stuart, an elder in the Church of Scotland prayed for us as a couple. Jamie is the author of the Glasgow Bible and we saw this as further evidence that we were meant to head West. We were aware that there were a few vacancies in the Hamilton Presbytery and so drove through to Hamilton, convinced that this was the Presbytery where God wanted us to serve.
   When we returned to South Africa, the estate agent in Hamilton drew our attention to a house available to rent in North Road, Bellshill, and we simply knew that this was where we were meant to be.
   The funny thing is that we thought that there was only one church in Bellshill as there were a variety of glitches on the Church of Scotland website when it came to posting the profile of Bellshill Central. We thought that God might be calling us to the West Church, as that was the only profile we could read whilst in South Africa.
   Stanley and Drew were very helpful in sending me a parish profile as soon as I was in a position to apply for vacant charges. As I met with the leadership, there was a real sense in which the call to serve Bellshill Central Parish Church was affirmed.
   I look forward to our further time together serving as part of God’s wider family.

We know that you have written some books, do you have plans for another?
   I have actually written a few books:
   Fantasy is my flagship book and one that I have been very keen to advertise and share. It is the celebration of 25 years in ministry and I sense that it is my best work.
   I have also written a brief introduction to various biblical stories entitled ‘Fifteen minutes to read’, as well as a manual on creatively engaging life’s joys, losses and challenges.
   I wrote a book before leaving South Africa entitled ‘Sitting in the middle of the bus’ and I am editing and simplifying that work so that it might serve as a brief introduction to Christian Faith, the Bible and the challenges presented in love and loss. This book will, hopefully appear soon under the title ‘First Steps’.
   I have also written a book on leadership and call entitled Shaping Story which shares the story of my call to Scotland.
   My books are available as e-books on Amazon and I will be approaching the leadership at Bellshill Central to consider whether one or two of them might be worth publishing as ‘hard copies’.

How long have you and Cheryl been married and how did you meet?
   Cheryl and I are in our twentieth year of marriage and we met at a friend’s engagement party. It was very much ‘love at first sight’ and even though we have faced various challenges, I would not change our journey in any way, shape, size or form. We are quite simply meant to be together and Cheryl is a real gift from God in life, love and ministry.

You have two children, Michael and Sarah, what has surprised you most about parenting? In what ways are being our Pastor and a Parent the same?
   Everything has surprised me about parenting. There are no books and no advice that can prepare anyone for parenting. Parenting proves challenging in so many ways and it demands a variety of gifts and attitudes, including the likes of listening, forgiveness, generosity and compassion.  In so many ways these prove to be similar qualities that are needed as I seek to pastor a congregation. At times the temptation is to speak too much (I am a preacher after all) but the real gift and challenge is to be someone who is prepared to listen. This is anything but easy and requires a lot of practice.

Being a Pastor/Minister is bound to be very demanding of your time, energy and emotions. What is your favourite way to recharge and find refreshment?
   I have struggled at times with rest and relaxation and yet in my earlier years I played cricket, and for a while I played golf. I do enjoy walking, reading and writing. I am also very fortunate in that I enjoy preaching and so the core aspect of my work and calling brings me much joy.

If you could be a super hero, what would your super power be? What would be your weakness?
   My super power would be passion. I am passionate about life and I love the phrase…”It is not the years that we live, but the life in our years that matters”. I have lived my adult life with a passion and enthusiasm that has even surprised me at times.
   My weakness is that I tend toward impatience…I ‘feel’ life at a level of intensity that can prove overwhelming and it is thus good practice for me to withdraw every now and again so as to reflect on life and give others the space to thrive and flourish.