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5 minutes with Ian McGilvray

Tell us a little about yourself

I am married to my lovely Jill and we live in the Blue Mountains in NSW.

We have two adult daughters living in Sydney with whom we share deep bonds of friendship and my awful dad jokes.

After a long career as an architect in Sydney I have entered a second career as an artist, having completed my Master of Art in 2013. My artistic practice of drawing and painting focuses mainly on stories about people and our human condition.

Jill and I are thankful members of a Presbyterian church at Springwood. We have been active in encouraging Christians in the role of creativity and engagement with culture.

In the wider Blue Mountains community I am involved in a Talking Art project, which fosters the sharing of ideas and public engagement for practicing artists and musicians.

What’s your favourite Bible passage and why?

My favourite Bible passage is Ephesians 1 and 2, and in particular Ephesians 2:10. This verse follows the jaw-dropping overview of God’s big new creation narrative. In this verse, we are described as God’s workmanship, poem or work of art (from the term poiema). To a visual artist, of course, this is a beautiful image. We are, in God’s hands, works in progress, being shaped into the likeness of Jesus. And this process is practical and purposeful, because there are good works of love and service and cultural engagement to get on with in His strength and not ours.

How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?

I am easily distracted spiritually, and prone to forget that we live before the audience of One. For me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus involves regularly returning to reading the gospel narratives, and letting Jesus’ words and actions sink in afresh as if for the first time.

I am currently reading Luke, and it is amazing. In the bigger picture I try to keep a balanced diet of Old and New Testament books.

What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know?

I would like the next generation of Christian women to know that from the very outset, our triune God has always invested His love and dreams in women playing an equal role in all aspects of life and worship. I would want the Bible to be taught faithfully in its radically high view of woman as equal co-heirs in Christ. And I want there to be a fresh blossoming of Christian women active in leadership, teaching, deep thoughtful dialogue and active service across the life of the church and in our public engagement.

I want them to know that we are all poorer when barriers to such blossoming are tolerated or promoted.

And I want women who have yet to be found in Christ to see in our behaviour and our proclamation the high and equal place of women in the heart of Jesus.

What’s one thing you love about your local church?

I love the fact that people whose lives can be painful, messy, challenging, or constrained by disabilities feel genuinely at home there. That is not to say that our local church is faultless, but I do get excited by rubbing shoulders with a wide range of people who are drawn by the beauty of Jesus which goes far beyond middle class comfort and is actively (if slowly) moving us to a new way of being human.

What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?

There were times in my being an architect when the combination of turning into a workaholic and worrying about major construction project outcomes nearly crushed me. In that place God slowly spoke through my fog and stubbornness that He is no stranger to hardship and mess, and that He loves me independently of my performance. I think what He wanted, at least in part, is that I focus on being in some small way a blessing and a light in taking on the role of “the office human”.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about the potential of art (and indeed, all of the creative arts) to call something within us to a much higher view of what it is to be human. The truth is, as Jesus so eloquently taught, we are great and of high calling, but fatally flawed. On the shoulders of Psalm 8, Acts 17 and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Christian artists have the privilege and challenge of being salt and light in our times and places and friendship groups in ways that will be winsome in drawing others to consider Christ.

What do you enjoy doing when you rest?

I love sharing conversation, lakeside walks, good books, crosswords and silly Netflix stuff like 30Rock in downtime with Jill.

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