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Changing the guard at the Christian lobby


Brigadier Jim Wallace, the face of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is stepping down to be replaced by his chief of staff Lyle Shelton.

Former SAS soldier Jim Wallace has led the Australian Christian Lobby since 2000, a period that has seen its Christian links widen, and its political influence grow.

Lyle Shelton was a rural journalist before becoming a youth pastor at Toowoomba City Church and joined the ACL as chief of staff in 2007. He ran as a National Party candidate at the 2006 Queensland elections. But he has shed his party affiliation.

“ACL is a non-party, non-partisan organisation,” Shelton told Eternity. “We want to work with both sides of politics. We want them to engage with the concerns of the Christian constituency which transcends left and right politics.”

“I see myself as a custodian of Jim Wallace’s vision. Our core business is to encourage and help Christians engage with culture and politics.”

Wallace will be a hard act to follow. He has played the gay marriage debate well from a conservative perspective. He gained assurances from both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard that they would not support a change in Federal law. Shelton takes over as managing Director of the ACL at a time when the federal Coalition may be shifting ground on the question of a conscience vote on the issue once they are in Government. Opposition leader Tony Abbott told reporters “Our position, my position, going into the next election, is that what our policy is … will be a matter for the post-election party room,” according to an AAP story.

Shelton told Eternity ”Our constituency is looking for leadership from both major parties.  We want them to be clear about marriage and clear that it should stay as it is.”

In emails to ACL financial supporters and church leaders last week, Mr Wallace explained that the transition plan had been in the making for two years.

“In the role of Deputy Chairman I will head the ACL’s efforts to establish strong relationships with a number of like-minded international organisations. We believe that by collaborating more closely through shared research and experiences, and co-ordination of our campaigns, we will be able to greatly increase our effectiveness in this globalised world,” Mr Wallace said.

Nick Overton will replace Lyle Shelton as chief of staff. He has recently gained a Master’s degree in Theology from Regent College in Vancouver. Before heading overseas he was an energetic Tasmanian State Director for ACL.

Image: Lyle Shelton on the Adventist Media “In Focus” programme