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Old High St Stephen’s Parish Church has announced the speakers at this year’s summer evening services at the Old High Church, Church Street, Inverness.
We have been hosting guest speakers at evening services on summer Sunday evenings at the Old High, the oldest church in Inverness, for more than a decade. We host these speakers as a gift to the whole Christian Community of Inverness, fulfilling the Old High’s role as the ‘town church’ of the City of Inverness.
Each event begins with worship at 7.30pm, and includes refreshments and a question and answer session.
This year’s guest speakers are:
9 June 2013: James M Fraser MA MEd FRSA, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
30 June 2013: Kenneth Steven, writer, author and poet
21 July 2013: Rev John L. Bell, Iona Community member, hymnwriter, lecturer, broadcaster
11 August 2013: Rev Martin Johnstone, Priority Areas Secretary of the Church of Scotland and Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland
Please see below for more information about each speaker. More detail about their talks will follow later.
James Fraser, principal and vice-chancellor9 June 2013: James M Fraser MA MEd FRSA, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) is the only university based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. T

he University provides access to undergraduate and postgraduate study, and research opportunities through a distinctive partnership of 13 colleges and research institutions. Each institution has its own character and contributes to the distinctive organisation that is the University of the Highlands and Islands.
UHI gained full university status in February 2011, evolving from the higher education institution UHI Millennium Institute.
Highlander James Fraser attended Plockton High School in Ross-shire. He gained an MA (Hons) in Mental Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh in 1971 and went on to become a lecturer in English and Liberal Studies at Inverness Technical College, now Inverness College UHI. In 1977 he took up an administrative post in the Academic Registry of the University of Stirling, gaining promotion in 1980 to assistant registrar. He graduated with an M.Ed from the University of Stirling in 1983. In 1987 he was appointed secretary of Queen Margaret College in Edinburgh, now Queen Margaret University. From 1972 to 1979 James also worked part-time with the Open University as a tutor on some of its arts courses. He was appointed as secretary to Paisley College of Technology in 1989. Paisley was granted university status in 1992 and James remained as university secretary until 2002 when he joined UHI Millennium Institute, forerunner to UHI, as secretary. In 2007 he became UHI deputy principal and secretary. He took over as UHI principal in 2009 and became vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands in February 2011.
Kenneth C Steven Photo by Richard Campbell, writer and poet in his Highland Landscape30 June 2013: Kenneth Steven, writer, author and poet
Kenneth Steven is published by St Andrew’s Press, and his poetry regularly appears in Life and Work, the magazine of the Church of Scotland.
Over the past 20 years, Kenneth Steven has become one of the country’s most popular poets. Drawing on a quiet Celtic spirituality and a love of wild Scotland, his engaging poetry offers us something beautiful, evocative, moving and captivating. He is also a highly successful broadcaster, featuring regularly on national radio. His BBC Radio 4 documentary on the island of St Kilda won him a prestigious Sony Award.
21 July 2013: Rev John L. Bell, Iona Community member, hymnwriter, lecturer, broadcaster
Composer of some of the most popular contemporary hymns, John Bell is a speaker in demand across the world. He regularly broadcasts on Thought for the Day on Radio 4. He will lead a discussion on The Strange Silence of Biblical Women.
John Bell is primarily concerned with the renewal of congregational worship at the grass-roots level. A past convener of the Church of Scotland’s Panel on Worship, he also convened the Committee to revise the Church Hymnary.
In 1999 the Royal School of Church Music which bestowed a Fellowship on him, and in 2002 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Glasgow. Bell has produced (sometimes in collaboration with Graham Maule) many collections of original hymns and songs and two collections of songs of the World Church. These are published by the Iona Community in Scotland and by G.I.A. Publications (Chicago) in North America. Several collections of his work have been published in translation in Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, Dutch, Frisian, Japanese and German.
11 August 2013: Rev Martin Johnstone, Priority Areas Secretary of the Church of Scotland and Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland
The Priority Areas Committee is responsible for the support, development and coordination of the Church’s work within its poorest 56 communities. Their mandate includes-

  • Developing new models of church life;
  • Engaging the wider church and society on issues of poverty;
  • Developing new models of community. Faith in Community Scotland is an interfaith anti-poverty organisation giving  training, resources, advice and support to faith groups (churches, mosques, gurdwaras, synagogues etc), developing their potential to make a difference in Scotland’s poorest communities.

People have said of Martin Johnstone that if he had chosen to work in the private sector he would have become a very rich man. Martin isn’t so sure and reckons that he would more likely have ended up broke. Whatever the truth, he has chosen to use his skills and creativity over the last 20 years to work with faith communities tackling poverty across Scotland. In Bellshill, where he was a Church of Scotland minister for ten years in the 90s, the local congregation developed a community centre catering for over 2,000 visitors a week. Since then, he has coordinated the Church of Scotland’s work in its poorest neighbourhoods across Scotland, a role he combines with being Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland – an anti-poverty organisation working with faith communities across the country. Each of these areas of work are now effective businesses which, in turn, have generated many more groups and organisations tackling poverty the length and breadth of Scotland. Martin says of himself: “I don’t know that I am very good at many things. However, the one thing I know I can do is to believe in other people’s dreams and to help them to turn those dreams into reality.”