05 November 2014
New chairman for the Evangelical Alliance
John Glass, head of Elim Pentecostal Church, has been appointed as the chairman for the Council of the Evangelical Alliance. The Council is a group of individuals from across the evangelical spectrum, representing a wide cross-section of expertise, that guides the work of the Alliance. John Glass is the 20th chair of Council since the Alliance was formed in 1846. We caught up with John, asking him a little more about his history with the Alliance, his leadership of Elim and his hopes for this new role.
I've been involved with the Alliance for over ten years. It's still relevant because it highlights a need for unity within the Church, that's perhaps more necessary than it has ever been.
The term 'evangelical' is a word that means different things to different people. We believe that Jesus Christ and his dying on the cross for our sins is good news for all society, and that everyone can enter into relationship with him if they turn away from their sin and devote their lives to him. We also believe that the Bible is our ultimate authority and governs the way we live our lives and act in our world. Spurred on by a desire to bring good news to our communities, we are passionate about bringing about change for the good and so social action forms a central part of how we live as Christians locally, nationally and globally.
The Alliance believes that the church is 'better together'. Given that Jesus, in John 17, expressed this as a mandate for all those who follow him, it clearly is something that the whole Church should enthusiastically embrace.
The Alliance has a huge role to play in advocacy – presenting the voice of the evangelical to government and media. In my view, this is the strongest reason why denominations, organisations, churches and individuals should take up membership as, by doing so, those who influence what happens in government will take more notice as the Alliance's constituency within the UK and Northern Ireland continues to grow.
There are many responsibilities for the chairman. Within council, my role it is to chair the business section of the meeting. Within the Board, it's to adequately reflect the views of the Council to the Board. Perhaps more importantly, however, together with the general director, it's to seek to represent the views of the Alliance to the wider church and the media. Internally I think the primary pressures for the Alliance are that we continue to hear one another respectfully and maintain the cohesion that we currently enjoy. Externally, it's that we are known not just for what we are against but that we are also heard making a positive case for the values that we desire to affirm.
For the past 15 years I have been the general superintendent (GS) of the Elim Pentecostal Churches in the UK, which is defined as 'giving spiritual leadership to the Movement and especially to the National Leadership Team'.
Elim commenced in 1915 and has now grown to around 550 churches in the UK and 9,000 around the world. In the UK we are currently involved in over 50 new church plants around the country that have started in the past two years. When I leave my role in Elim in 18 months' time I have great confidence for the movement's future, given the high calibre of people that I see emerging into leadership and, of course, believing that the same God that has been there in our history will also be present in our destiny.
As you'll be aware, 2015 is our centenary year and will be extremely busy as far as I am concerned. When my tenure as general superintendent comes to a close at Conference 2016 I will be free to put more of my time and energy in the work of Alliance for what will remain in my three-year term.
I've also been an ordained minister for 41 years and am involved in serving a number of organisations outside of my own movement. These include being on the council of reference for Youth for Christ and work with Churches Together. Most of my time is spent engaging with leaders within and without of my own denomination.
My predecessor, Kate Coleman the former president of the Baptist Union, did a tremendous job. As always, my primary focus will remain during my time as GS to serve Elim to the same degree that I have sought to do over the past fifteen years. However, in this honorary position as chair of Council, I will also do all within my power to serve both it and my fellow leaders beyond our movement. I'm totally committed to its vision and values and aims and objectives and will be honoured to serve alongside some of the finest leaders in the UK church who are our members in the Alliance.