Tag Archives: Perth

“Change and Decay in All I See”

The Courier


‘Time for someone to say it’ — Minister warns lack of interest is killing the church

By RICHARD BURDGE, 27 February 2015 3.25pm. Updated: 28 February 2015 10:10am.

Rev Scott Burton decided it was time to speak out after facing more and more empty pews in his church.Shaun Ward
Churches face an “intolerable and utterly unsustainable” lack of interest from their congregations, according to a minister.

An outspoken and wide-ranging attack has been made on members who fail to attend for worship or offer financial support to their churches.

The Rev Scott Burton, minister at St Matthew’s Kirk in Perth, said: “I have no reason to believe anything other than the fact that it’s only going to get worse in the next decade.

“It’s time for someone to say it as it is I’m afraid — and I’m either brave enough or stupid enough to be the one who’s choosing to say it.

“I see the bank balance (deficits), I lead worship in the more than half-empty buildings, I feel the never-ending pressures, I counsel the office-bearers who are tearing their hair out to make ends meet. So I assure you, I’m not exaggerating.”

He hit out after studying the number of people attending churches in Perth but his comments resonated with congregation leaders across Tayside and Fife.

The Rev Michael Goss, Angus Presbytery Clerk, said: “The general perception is that attendance at services runs at about a third or a quarter of the congregational roll.

“The picture is a continuing downward trend, which has been the situation for a long time.”

The Rev James Wilson, the clerk of Dundee’s Presbytery, said:“Our membership is gradually getting fewer and older. We are slowly but surely struggling to find people to do additional tasks and take up positions of responsibility.

P“It is a problem for us in the Church of Scotland in Dundee certainly — a major problem — but it is not one that only the church is facing.”

Ministers in Fife confirmed numbers were dropping, with the Rev Jan Steyn, minister of Cupar St Johns and Dairsie United Parish Church, saying “generational change” was required to keep churches relevant.


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Persecuting Preachers in Perth


Persecuting Preachers in Perth

(Note – there have been many comments on this blog – I try to publish those that are not libellous, blasphemous etc. But I will not publish anonymous ones unless you give me your name and a very good reason why you should remain anonymous.  Its always ironically sad to get hate mail from anonymous Christians all done in the name of ‘love’!  

I have also written a follow up to this blog which you can read here –


And there is a further follow up since Tony Miano, Josh’s friend has now been arrested in Dundee…   http://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/crying-wolf-is-free-speech-being-suppressed-in-the-uk/

As I am heading to Perth tomorrow, ironically to speak at a conference of Christian lawyers, on the law and Christianity, I thought it might be appropriate to reflect on the most recent case of a street preacher being arrested in the UK, Josh Williamson…

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The “Fair City”. (Perth)


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September 25, 2013 · 17:41

Manic Street Preacher (From the Courier)


By RICHARD BURDGE, 23 September 2013 10.21am.

A Perth street preacher who was detained in a police cell for more than five hours at the weekend claims he is being stripped of his “freedom of speech”.

For the second time in a matter of days 27-year-old Josh Williamson fell foul of police officers as he preached on the city’s High Street.

On Wednesday after addressing shoppers in the pedestrianised centre he was taken to Perth police station and issued with a warning after he refused to move on.

Undeterred by the incident the Australian,who arrived in the city with his wife and two-year-old son last month to lead Craigie Reformed Baptist Church, decided to venture out again on Saturday.

“I met some friends who were handing out literature and preaching,” said Mr Williamson. “I got up and a handful of minutes later the police came across and stopped me.

“They said they had received a complaint and it was a breach of the peace as I had upset people with what I was saying.”

Mr Williamson said that at the time he was preaching that Jesus Christ had come into the world to save sinners.

He says that the two officers told his friends not to film the incident and following a discussion about his actions he was “manhandled” into a police car and taken to Perth police station and detained for five and a half hours.

He understands the evidence is being evaluated to see if he will face charges. Police Scotland’s Dundee control said they weren’t in a position to comment on Mr Williamson’s version of events

Carol Marx2 hours ago
As the late, great Keith Chegwin said…’religio­n is the opium of the people’
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Stephen Samson9 hours ago
All he did was shout at people and them they are all there wrong, trying to start arguments. pissing everyone off. Noone wants to hear that they will burn in hell because they dont agree with this guy while they are working hard to feed their familys. Police for once did their job right 😀
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Kevinspired11 hours ago
Do you think if he had been a Muslim, the police would still have arrested him? What has happened to Scotland, the land of my ancestors? Whether you are a Christian or not, whatever happened to freedom of speech in your country ( I’m an Australian like Josh, of Scottish descent ). What’s happened to your country? How long was he preaching for anyway? How many people complained? Was it just the one person? Was any law broken? Was he actually arrested, or unlawfully detained? Why wasn’t he charged with anything? If you’re going to arrest someone, you’ve got to be prepared to charge them with an offence, and prove that offence in a court of law. In the past, the brave Scots fought for their freedom from the tyranny of the English, but now your allowing that same freedom, which was purchased with the blood of many valiant Scots, to be taken away for the sake of political correctness. God, help Scotland!
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Alan Graham4 hours ago
Do you not understand the difference between Breach of the Peace and political correctness?
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thornindaside2 hours ago
As Scot living in Scotland where it’s the usual practice to be quite stoic about personally unwelcome street performances when it’s carried out in a manner that recognises it’s a public place and there are limits to their behaviour that people will feel obliged to accept.Look at the body language of the stall holders when they approached this man their gestures suggest a wish that he just quieten down though like many they probably would have preferred him to do his thing in another public place where they did n’t have to hear him,All he had top do was lower his sound level as a gesture of accepting that his freedom to speak is only as equal as others to speak up.Shouting at people who have choosen to walk away rather than get into a heated public arguement is another cultural no no because it suggests he was spoiling for a fight and we have laws about brawling in public even if the only thing that is flying is heated words.You seem to be suggesting that because this man was using his very loud voice under the banner of his religious beliefs that it’s the person/s who contacted the police who should have been arrested for wasting police time.I’d have thought it was done to prevent public escalation of trouble.
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Tealing48 minutes ago
It was nothing to do with what he was preaching but the volume he was preaching at…..he had been asked to tone it down but refused and the police acted on the complaints of nearby shop owners who had to listen to him and had reported it.
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bean counter12 hours ago
Question I’d ask is whether this preaching constitutes breach of the peace, or if its a minor nuisance, and whether (as he claims) putting him in a cell for six hours at public expense was a proportionate response by police here.

It seems a bit strange there is such anger directed at him, yet people like radical cleric Abu Qatada were allowed to preach far, far worse on the streets of the UK’s capital. The incident is a bit embarrassing, really, and doesn’t show Perth or the police in a favourable light.

I’m sure there are far worse things for the police to deal with – and by treating him as they all do – more attention than needs be is given to a minor and insignificant issue.
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oldagegoth12 hours ago
Everytime i see and hear these bible bashers i just want to scream SHUTUP!!!!!!!!
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john elrick13 hours ago
This person got what he wanted. Christians, particularly the more strident, evangelical type, live to be oppressed. Nothing pleases them more than what they perceive to be an “attack” on their faith or their “right” to express it.

I do wish they could be a little less soapy and loud about it.
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Mr Angry16 hours ago
I see there are a lot of really ignorant people posting on here starting with Kenny who states that the man clearly has mental issues……boy Kenny seems not to mind bbeing sued.

Such preachers are seen frequently on the streets of Perth and no complaints have ever been made. I believe its part of their training. I have never spoken to anyone who has complained about said preachers.

I have spoken to very many people who complain about buskers especially the one with the violin with added funnel/tube. I have spoken to many people who complain about so called charity collections and other such people shaking tins under ones nose.

Many people complain about the drunks and drug addicts, the cyclists racing up and down the pedestrian precinct, about being knocked over by cyclists, falling over A boards but the police dont ever seem to have enough staff to deal with such matters.

I look forward to the next time there is a pipe band playing or the salvation army, what about the guys with their pan pipes.

Next time I am walking up the oneway street and a police vehicle comes down the wrong way or even a council van twoing a trailor I will hope they are arrested.

As for all you sad people who object to the preacher, get a life and go and march against wind turbines.
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Athena15 hours ago
Maybe the buskers, the cyclists , the charity collectors who spend hours out in all weathers, etc don’t have the media contacts your pastor has. Have also been in Perth when I saw two bobbies chasing teenagers through the High Street. The teenagers had picked the wrong pocket. Have also seen one bobby dealing with an elderly lady who collapsed in Boots.

Now this bit about campaigning against windmills. Touch of the Don Quixotes
here. You seem to support tfreedom of speech for the
Pastor but not for anyone else and then compound the error denying everyone else Freedom of Speech, Religion and Thought!

Not been your best day?
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Kenny13 hours ago
I’m not ignorant at all – ignorant is someone standing in a street shouting the odds to people that don’t want to hear it – not one person went over to him during the clip and said “well done mate” !!
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Kenny17 hours ago
The guy clearly has mental issues, but that does not give him the right to disturb people going about their business. I’m sure the people of Perth know as well as everyone else where their nearest churches are should they wish to visit them and like anyone else do not need people inflicting their views on them. If people come to this country they should abide by our laws as we are expected to when visiting their countries. Well done Tayside Police )
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big mamma16 hours ago
Not well done tayside police how silly they are looking
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thornindaside13 hours ago
How so?Was this a prank?and somewhere along the way we’ll have the people seen in the video clip sitting on a sofa being interviewed by a modern day version of Jeremy Beadle laughing it all off?
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Dorothy Boyett15 hours ago
What Pastor Williamson is doing is what every Christian should be doing. It is our duty to warn others that there is coming a day when we all will be standing before God. This is not mental illness it is taking the commandment to “go into all the world” seriously. If we truly care about where people spend eternity we will go out and hand out Bible tracts, have conversations or if we are male open air preach.
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Kenny13 hours ago
So it’s ok for him to intimidate the elderly people and business owners seen in the video going about their business then???

It’s the religious fanatics in the world that cause so much hatred and wars!
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oldagegoth12 hours ago
well said kenny.
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kkid12 hours ago
So you don’t consider females capable of preaching the word of your God, Dorothy. What a sad indictment of yourself, your opinion of your sex, and your religion.
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Athena11 hours ago
Where did Richard III spend eternity.? Looked like a car park in Leics
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GFM17 hours ago
Was he assessed by a Psychiatrist? I look forward to the day where these lunatics have to admit that they are hugely disingenuous or be sectioned!
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Guest1319 hours ago
http://www.savesaeed.o­rg – A friend, in chains for the gospel.

I’m sorry for Josh’s minor inconvenience of being brought to a police station for a short conversation. But there is much worse going on in the world.

Yes, he should have freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. But there is also the responsibility as a citizen to remove himself from the situation if there is trouble arising. Yes, the others who were shouting were causing the trouble, but the easiest thing to keep the peace was to remove him from the situation. (It’s simple law enforcement).

But as a Christian, you feel you should stand and preach. But also, you need to live above the line of reproach.

Ask yourself, by ignoring the officer’s request to stop and having it escalate as it did, what good did it do for the public’s view of Jesus? If you cooperated, what would the public’s view of Jesus be?

There’s a time and a place for all things. I don’t like that you were stopped, and the multiple excuses you were given. But I believe it would have been better for you to respect the officers wishes. God will give you favour in the eyes of man, if He wants to, you should trust in Him to provide it, and walk in it, respectfully.

There is much worse going on, some terrible prosecution of Christians. What has happened has been a minor inconvenience for you, for others, they have been barely clinging to life, truly in chains for simply believing.

There’s a big difference between you and these other people that are truly suffering. I just don’t see a lot of Jesus in this.

Next time, maybe feed those people who are yelling at you, or do something practical to show them the love of Jesus. Be relatable through your actions. There is a time to speak, but there is also a time to keep silent.

You’d be surprised how often it is time to just stay silent.

Study who Jesus was and is again, you may need a refresher. But then again, we all miss the mark.

I say all these things in love and hope for your own personal growth.
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thornindaside17 hours ago
I’m not religious but your post is rather beautiful to read.
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Dorothy Boyett15 hours ago
I am aware of pastor Saeed’s unjust imprisonment and others who are suffering in restricted countries, however I don’t think you can use that to try and silence Pastor Josh Wlliamson from preaching the Gospel in the public square. The video shown does not reflect his message of reconciliation with God for sinners which was given (the media showed only the part where the stall holders were yelling at Josh). The U.K. or more specifically Scotland is supposed to allow free speech and the public proclamation of the Gospel unlike Iran where Pastor Saeed is detained. If the police are allowed to continue to arrest pastor Williamson every time he goes out to proclaim the Gospel which will make ?the city of Perth a Gospel free zone. Giving people food is easy and will make people like you, however if they die in their sin they will hate you when they wake up in Hell.
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Athena10 hours ago
Perth or more particularly the McDiarmid stadium has played host to amongst other Christian groups, evangelical groups for sometime. Pastor Williamson, should have been better advised in every place he appears to seek confrontation. Be it Essex, the US or Australia.

Furthermore no one denied him free speech it was the manner and deliverance and lack of empathy people objected to. He was preaching/very noisily when I saw him in Perth on Wednesday afternoon. The video shows a rather wet damp High Street, that was Thursday… And he appears to have been back in the High Street on Saturday. Therefore the Pastor was not arrested every time he went out to preach as you’ve stated. He also appears to have the unique distinction of being the only prelate to be arrested in Perth High Street. If only he’d started out trying to be less confrontational­. More pleasant etc and he would have been assured of traditional Scottish hospitality.

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The Rev14 hours ago
Guest 13 writes
Ask yourself, by ignoring the officer’s request to stop and having it escalate as it did, what good did it do for the public’s view of Jesus? If you cooperated, what would the public’s view of Jesus be?

What was the public’s view of Jesus when he was alive? – they crucified him!
When Jesus was asked by the authorities of a secular state to stop preaching, did he stop? – certainly not.

I think it is you who needs to look again at who Jesus was and is, and what he calls us to do. (Matthew 28)

I would call on every Christian in Perthshire to do as Josh has done and publically declare the love of Christ, and if we all have to spend 5 hours in a cell to do so then so be it. Imagine if we all did, how quickly the system would be overwhlemed, and how much public opinion would be challenged.

Street Vendors aren’t arrested for their tactics. Energy switching sales people (i’ve been accosted in Perth High Street by such) don’t have to answer to the authorities. Why is it that such obnoxious folk are allowed to have ‘permits’ to preach their product, while we who preach the Gospel are not?
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suzi19 hours ago
I’ll stick with science thanks.
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big mamma19 hours ago
I ment to say the Police just walk pass
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big mamma19 hours ago
You are so true..druggie drunks and buskers seem to left alone.I have seen just walk passed all of the above and do nothing ..it is so sad that has got to happen.
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Athena10 hours ago
Try reading the court records. Big momma …full of itinerants like druggies, drunks and buskers….peop­le of no fixed abode.
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macbee3620 hours ago
I have no problem with church representatives­. The Gate Church is a regular presence in the Murraygate in Dundee. However, this guy is a different kettle of fish. After watching the video I have to agree with those who challenged him. He was extremely loud from the offset and when challenged he became confrontational­.
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big mamma20 hours ago
Preach it Brother God is on your side God ALWAYS wins
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wullie20 hours ago
The man is entitled to worship his invisible sky pixies if he wants to but he shouldn’t disturb the rest of us.
30,000 of us marched for Scottish independence on Saturday …..any chance of a video of that from the Courier ? Thought not.
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Pragmatist19 hours ago
Ah now Wullie, they’ve got some pictures on the website. A grand day out!
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Bruno20 hours ago
Thank you for reporting on this. It’s a strange, rather worrying story, and it doesn’t get better that the police are playing games and refusing to answer questions.

Something is very odd about all this. Why on earth are the police arresting a street preacher? They’re harmless souls, and have been standing there with signs saying “Prepare to meet thy God” all my lifetime. They may not be my cup of tea; but they are most certainly harmless, and entitled to do what they do.
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Athena17 hours ago
Even more strange …your friend has absolutely no regard for the laws of our country.
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Texans United.21 hours ago
Slow news week or what!!! “Man With Loud Voice Upsets Sleepy Hollow”

Good to see the Courier challenging the limits of investigative journalism.

Is this really a story to challenge the opinion of free speech or is it indeed just giving someone the chance to point and laugh at the guy with a loud voice? Is it akin to Cyber-bullying?
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thornindaside17 hours ago
Is this man’s actions akin to bullying people passing within his orbit that he should be allowed do as he pleases when he pleases wherever he pleases in a society that has rules both legal and those that come under widely accepted cultural practise?.It may not seem it to some but we are still a fairly polite society when it comes to accepting one man’s meat is another man’s poison and usually will try to accommodate others alternative lifestyle unless it becomes too much to bear with it.As it seems this pastor was not under the influence of drugs,drink or had a mental health issue that might have brought harm to himself or others so what conclusion should the police have come to when he refused to modify his behaviour in the slightest for those for whom laughter was the furthest thought from their minds.Did they conclude he was a bloody minded individual who was acting in a passive aggressive manner that was pushing just too many buttons for public good order.Maybe he just enjoys arguing with people but I don’t think many actually live,work or visit the town centre based on the prospect of having an arguement being the pull factor particularly with a bloke who has brought a stool to elevate himself .
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Archangel22 hours ago
Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler just to ignore this nutter? The actions of the police have given him far more publicity than he would ever have got by standing in the street shouting at people 99% of whom would have ignored him
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oldagegoth12 hours ago
another good post
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Jock23 hours ago
What people seem to forget is that the police were not bothered about his preaching. Rather, they were concerned about whether or not a breach of the peace had occurred.

In Scots law a breach of the peace is any conduct which causes alarm to others. Therefore, any lawful any activity can amount to a breach of the peace depending on the context. What is lawful in one place may be unlawful elsewhere.

The police only took action after receiving a complaint. We don’t know who made this complaint but I strongly suspect the people in the adjoining shops may have been concerned about customers being scared off.
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Big mamma23 hours ago
Why did they not put the Indian chap in prison he was preaching the same word out of the same bible, at the same place. at the same time .
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Give me peace17 hours ago
Maybe he was quieter and less confrontational than this attention seeker
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Athena15 hours ago
What Indian chap Big Momma? He doesn’t seem to have the same contacts with the media-/ as Big Pappa.
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oz623 hours ago
I believe that everyone has the right to their own beliefs – however they should keep them to themselves and not force them down the throat of others!
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Free Speech For All22 hours ago
This very comment is stating your expression of belief on others beliefs. By your own words you should of kept it to yourself.
But thankfully you have the right to free speech to express it.
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Athena15 hours ago
Oz6 isn’t preaching his beliefs. Pedantic I know but there you go.
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Z Stardust23 hours ago
He would be better going down to South Street to preach. It’s like Sodom and Gomorrah down there if you believe what you read in the papers. Mind you, they can probably hear him anyway.
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Athena23 hours ago
Mr Williamson could also preach outside St John’s Kirk beside the friend who accompanied him to police station in Perth last week.
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Kath Noble23 hours ago
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Archangel22 hours ago
Totol? Hypocricy?
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MJB21 hours ago
Aye, from the ‘Noble Dictionary of English’, at present in search of a publisher.
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Kevinspired23 hours ago
If Jesus had come to Perth, Scotland, instead of Jerusalem, Israel, well I’m guessing they would have arrested Him as well!
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Archangel22 hours ago
I think that was what happened anyway.
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Athena15 hours ago
Think again. Once the Courier Reporter filed his story not only would the citizens of Perth flock to the High Street but they’d come from all the corners of the earth and finally David Cameron would be there making a statement to camera. Of course no one called Peter would be allowed any where in the vicinity.
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Pulpit Supply 2

The Meenister’s Log

I remember hearing a guest preacher at University Chapel – a well known Church of Scotland minister of some seniority.  His sermon was exceptional – he interwove stories about St.Andrews (where the University is) taking us on a guided tour down through history and along the cobbled streets of the Town in our imagination.

Some years later, hearing that he was guest preacher in Perth one Sunday, I decided to have a Sunday off from my then congregation which was a dozen or so miles away…and he substituted references to Perth in the same sermon!

And he once came to an anniversary service of some kind at St.Michael’s Inveresk where I was minister at the time and….. yep, but this time The Honest Toun (Musselburgh) was the focus of his attention in the same message.

Have to say, though, that it was excellent and I only wish I could remember the details!



A student was taking a service one Sunday, having “borrowed” large chunks of a sermon from a book of homilies and addresses written by a retired minister.  To his horror, the author was sitting in the congregation.



A visiting Scottish minister was on a preaching tour many years ago in the USA.  Can’t remember the exact details, but let’s say he started in Chicago before going on to the Twin Cities and then to a couple of places westward of there.

After the third preaching engagement, after the service, a guy came up to him during coffee time and said “That sermon just keeps on getting better every time you preach it”

It transpired that he was a travelling salesman and whenever he was in a City where our minister friend was preaching, he’d go along to the service.

It was, of course, the same sermon every time and in every place.

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