Harold Turner: The Kiwi Walls

Harold Turner has been described by Paul Windsor as the “Kiwi Newbigin,”[1] but he could also be described as the “Kiwi Walls.” He was born in New Zealand in 1911 and after completing his studies in 1939 he worked for 15 years as a Presbyterian minister there. He went on to work as a missionary scholar in Sierra Leone and Nigeria where he met and formed a close partnership with Andrew Walls that continued for the rest of his life. It was during his time in West Africa that wrote his PhD dissertation, History of an African Independent Church in 1967, which as Andrew Walls writes is “Still the fullest account we have of the history of any body of African Christians.”[2] He later moved to the U.K., where he developed a new department at the University of Leicester based on his phenomenological approach to studying religion and also founded the Centre for New Religious Movements in Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham. During his time there he met Lesslie Newbigin, who asked him to read and comment on a draft of his well-known work The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. Towards the end of his life he moved back to New Zealand, where he formed the Gospel and Cultures Trust (later called DeepSight Trust) with similar goals to those of Newbigin’s Gospel and Our Culture Network. He passed away in 2002.[3]

[1] http://gospel-culture.org.uk/harold_turner.htm

[2] Walls, The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History, 118.

[3] J. M. Hitchen, “Harold W. Turner Remembered,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 26 (2002): 112–17.

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Filed under African Christianity, African Theology

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