Looking Differently at Disability



     Very Rev Dr John Chalmers

  Tuesday 31 October at 7.30pm

  at St Andrew’s and St George’s West, Edinburgh


John Chalmers’ lecture and discussion will challenge negative attitudes to disability.


Speaking from personal experience, he will make the case that in sharing in the lives of the differently-abled we may be surprised by grace and beauty and even change our view of so-called ‘normality.’


How could we become a truly inclusive community? What ethos

and values would underpin this transformation?


The 2017 Donald Gorrie Lecture

Open to all. Free entry and refreshments

Interpreted in British Sign Language

About the speaker

John Chalmers will be giving the 2017 Donald Gorrie lecture on Tuesday 31st October at 7.30.  He will draw on his unique personal experiences to help us understand disability in a different way. Hence

the title of his talk, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.  This line from the song Anthem by Leonard Cohen asks us to experience the grace and beauty of God shining through the cracks.  

John will be taking a fairly broad overview of what we label as disability, delivered in the main from his experience of downs syndrome, the deaf community, physical disability and post traumatic stress disorder. This may make us think about what it means to be an inclusive community and what it is to describe the love of God as unconditional.

Many people will know that John’s older sister June had Down’s Syndrome and he has spent most of his life supporting Enable, the charity which aims to improve the lives of people who live with learning disabilities. For twenty years he was a member of the Board of Donaldson’s, the National School for the Deaf, serving 8 years as Chairman. In 2011 John’s son John-James was injured in Afghanistan while serving with the Royal Marines. Mr Chalmers says at that time they experienced the Church as a healing and supportive community.  

John also believes that some of the greatest works of service are done by people who do not get enough affirmation or public recognition.  He says “I enjoy telling the story of a Church which cares about the values by which Scotland lives, which cares about the conditions in which people live and which puts its money where its faith is, in the work it does amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised.”

The lecture will include an opportunity to ask questions and to continue the discussion over refreshments afterwards.  

The Very Rev Dr John Chalmers was Moderator of the General Assembly in 2014 – 2015, Principal Clerk to the General Assembly from 2010 – 2017 and prior to that served as Depute Secretary to the Board of Ministry and as the Church’s Senior Pastoral Adviser.  In the early 1980s he was a minister in Renton Trinity Parish in West Dunbartonshire and from 1986 to 1995 he was the minister of Palmerston Place Church.  


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