2016-17 Lecture Series Thinking Allowed



Programme of Lectures and Events   2016 – 2017


Cairns Church, 11 Buchanan Street, Milngavie

Orchardhill Parish Church, 12 Church Road, Giffnock



Scottish Religion, down through the centuries, has generally been seen as overly orthodox and dogmatic. The strong Influences of the Calvinism touched most aspects of life, resulting in a general ease with all matters traditional, and intuitive fear of ideas and convictions created "outside the box".

Given such a historical background, it is somewhat surprising that as a nation we have managed to produce quite a number of distinguished thinkers; radical theologians who in their own way had the courage to think aloud and, more than that, were prepared to accept the consequences that followed. Folk like Thomas Aikenhead, hanged at Leith in 1696 for sharing ideas gleaned from his University reading list, or John Mcleod Campbell, condemned by the general assembly of 1831 for suggesting that Christ died for all, not just the elect. And as late as 1880 William Robertson Smith was sacked by his university for daring to raise critical questions about the bible in an Encyclopaedia Britannica article!

All of these people shared an honest desire to express the truth as they saw it. None claimed to be without error None of them believed that their ideas represented the last word. In spirit of "Thinking Allowed", they simply held to the view that new angles and fresh perspectives were the essential currency of Christianity. What was true then, is still true today.

Enjoy our Lectures!

Listed below are the lectures at Orchardhill for the complete series at both Orchardhill and Cairns please follow this link


*Wednesday 23rd November 2016                                                          7.30 pm for 8.00 pm

Venue: Orchardhill 

Speaker:        Reverend Peter Macdonald BD Cert Min

Lecture:          “The Iona Community Transforming Lives to Change the World - The work of the Iona Community and the challenges of the future”

The Iona Community is an international ecumenical Christian movement associated with the Church of Scotland, which empowers ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Its 250 members and 2400 associate members in 47 countries work individually and collectively for peace and social justice issues.

The Iona Community is an ecumenical Christian movement seeking new ways of living the gospel in today’s world through working for peace and social justice rebuilding community and in the renewal of worship.

Ordained in the Church of Scotland, Peter Macdonald has served as leader of the Iona Community since 2009. In that capacity, he facilitates the vision and strategic direction of the Community and leads staff and members in the work that makes those plans a reality.

Prior to stepping up as Iona Community leader, Peter was pastor of St. George’s West Church, Edinburgh . While minister of Torbain Parish Church, Kirkcaldy, he co-founded the Lomonds Trust to address the needs of homeless youth with a new 20-room facility, rent support and furniture recycling initiative.

Peter and his wife, Leslie Orr, PhD, an historian and feminist activist, live outside Edinburgh with their two sons.

* Please Note that this talk is on a Wednesday night, not the usual Thursday night *


Thursday 2nd February 2017                                                                    7.30 pm for 8.00 pm

Venue: Orchardhill 


TED talks – ideas worth spreading

Speaker : TED talk – Jody Williams

Lecture :  “A Realistic Vision For World Peace”


Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams brings tough love to the dream of world peace, with her razor-sharp take on what "peace" really means, and a set of profound stories that zero in on the creative struggle — and sacrifice — of those who work for it.

In more than 100 years of Nobel Peace Prizes, only a dozen women have ever won. Civil-rights and peace activist Jody Williams, received the award in 1997 as the chief strategist of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which established the first global treaty banning antipersonnel mines.

Williams believes that peace is defined by human (not national) security and that it must be achieved through sustainable development, environmental justice, and meeting people’s basic needs. To this end, she co-founded the Nobel Women’s Initiative, endorsed by six of seven living female Peace laureates. She chairs the effort to support activists, researchers, and others working toward peace, justice, and equality for women and thus humanity. Williams also continues to fight for the total global eradication of landmines.



TED talks – ideas worth spreading

Speaker:        TED talk -      Scilla Elworthy

Lecture:          “Fighting With Nonviolence”

How do you deal with a bully without becoming a thug? In this wise and soulful talk, peace activist Scilla Elworthy maps out the skills we need — as nations and individuals — to fight extreme force without using force in return.To answer the question of why and how nonviolence works, she evokes historical heroes —Aung San Suu Kyi, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela — and the personal philosophies that powered their peaceful protests.


Elworthy is a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a recipient of the Niwano Peace Prize. In 2002 Elworthy founded Peace Direct, which supports local action against conflict, and in 1982 founded Oxford Research Group, a think-tank devoted to developing effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers and their critics. Beginning in 2005 she helped set up The Elders initiative as an adviser to Sir Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Scilla Elworthy founded Oxford Research Group in 1982, to promote effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers and their opponents.


Thursday 9th March 2017                                                     7.30 pm for 8.00 pm

 Venue: Orchardhill

Speaker:        The Very Reverend John Miller BA BD DD

Lecture:          “What Shall We Tell The Grandchildren?”

In the light of modern literary and historical scholarship, what is 'true' in the Bible? In multi-cultural Britain and in secular Western culture what is the place of such a particular faith as Christianity? What is it to live 'a Christian life'?

John  Miller is a retired minister in the Church of Scotland. He was ordained and inducted to Castlemilk East Parish Church, Glasgow in 1971 from which he retired in 2007 from his parish duties, but then,in retirement, went to work for the Church in Zimbabwe.

His unassuming dedication to serving the people of Castlemilk was recognised by the Church of Scotland in his election as Moderator of the General Assembly in 2001.

Miller Primary School in Castlemilk was named after him and his wife, Mary Miller, in recognition of all that they had contributed to life in Castlemilk. Inter multa alia   In 2005 the Lord Provost awarded him the Glasgow Loving Cup for his contribution to the City.

John's retirement was interrupted in 2012 when he became Interim Moderator and Locum Minister at Giffnock Orchardhill Parish Church for nearly three years.

As an author, John's books include “Silent Heroes” , “A Simple Life” and “Reflections on the Beatitudes”. 



Rev. Andrew Frater
Cairns Church

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