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25 February 2013

Once-in-a-generation opportunity

Once-in-a-generation opportunity

Introducing Kieran Turner, the new public policy officer for the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland…

idea: What were you doing before you joined the Alliance?
Kieran: I’ve spent the last few years working in Scottish politics as an assistant to a couple of members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs). Immediately before joining the Alliance I was based in the gorgeous Highlands, and before that in the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh. Prior to that I worked in Glasgow doing youth and community work in a deprived part of the city. 

What attracted you to the job?

I passionately believe that the gospel is for the whole of society and that includes the political world. The Church has a massive role to play in Scottish society and already does way more than most politicians realise. There are going to be increasing opportunities for the Church to play a positive role in Scotland over the coming years and I’m excited to hopefully play some part in making that happen. As we build credibility through our actions I’m hopeful this will also bring opportunities to speak prophetically into wider Scottish society. 

What's been the highlight of your first few months?

Probably being paid to do something that I love. Apart from that it’s definitely been the variety of amazing people I’ve been able to meet and spend time with. It’s encouraging to know that all over Scotland there are passionate disciples of Jesus who are quietly advancing the Kingdom in a whole host of different ways. 

What do you hope to achieve at work in the coming year?

I hope to let politicians know that we are good news. There is a perception among the establishment that evangelical Christians are negative and reactionary and we need to challenge that - and challenge ourselves - to be defined by what we are for rather than primarily what we are against. The next 18 months in Scotland are going to be massive and will be building to the biggest year in recent Scottish history with the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and of course the referendum on independence in the space of a few months. The Alliance and the Scottish Church need to be ready for that so we’ll be developing a new advocacy strategy over the next few months as well as working with coalitions to make the most of these once-in-a-generation opportunities. 

What's your prayer for Scotland?

My prayer is simply that God would transform Scotland. That Jesus would be Lord of Scotland and that individuals, communities and Scottish society would be transformed by the power of the gospel. 

What do you do for fun?

Being Scottish, football is in my DNA, although I pretty much enjoy watching or playing any sport. I really enjoy going out to the cinema, concerts or the theatre. I love to explore new places and get into the outdoors, especially the Highlands. It was amazing living in Inverness. But if I had to pick one thing it’s probably eating out and trying new food. A good meal with good friends and good conversation – does it get any better? 

The shape of church to come

Church in Scotland at this time is in an interesting place. It faces a number of complex issues: declining numbers, fragmentation, how to connect with the rapidly-changing cultures in which we live and work. Perhaps the biggest questions are around how we live faithfully as the people of God in this and future generations. 

To help further the conversation, the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland were excited to be part of a coalition including International Christian College, Church of Scotland and others in bringing theological reflectors and writers Alan Hirsch and Mike Frost to Scotland. On the theme of, ‘the shape of the church to come’, they led discussions with both leaders and students. Day conferences were held in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee and were all well attended. These days have helped the ongoing conversations about mission that are so important to our future. 

In the next few months we hope to further these conversations through our Confidence in the Gospel work. Bonnie Thurston wrote How did the early Christians set out and journey in God’s direction?: “First, they took as magnetic north the person of Jesus Christ, his cross, passion and resurrection. Everything else was subordinate to their devotion to him.” 

We hope to help the Church in Scotland to find where Jesus is leading it and to have the confidence to move in his direction. 

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