Global Prayer Movement Database: Missions Mobilization: Early Streams: Evangelical Alliance

 

 

The Evangelical Alliance/ World Evangelical Fellowship [1846]

 

“It was an impressive sight. 800 Christians, who had gathered in Freemason's Hall, Great Queen Street, London, in August, 1846, were standing to shake hands and sing the Doxology. They had just voted to establish what has been called "a new thing in Church history--a definite organization for the expression of unity amongst Christian individuals belonging to different churches… They called it ‘The Evangelical Alliance…*’” 1.

 

Universal Week of Prayer

 

“Undoubtedly the second most significant and tangible contribution of the Evangelical Alliance was the establishment of the annual universal week of prayer… Kessler notes that ‘in 1858 for the first time, the appeal for a week of prayer was directed not only to the Alliance members, but to all Christians throughout the world.’” 2.  [emphasis added]

 

Note: The Evangelical Alliance would later be renamed the World Evangelical Fellowship in the U.S. 1951; other nations, such as the UK, still retain the name Evangelical Alliance.

 

Additional references to the missions gathering at Freemasons' Hall:

 

A History of the Evangelical Movement 1517-1948, Ruth Rouse and Stephen C. Neill, Philadelphia, The Westminister Press, 1967, p. 324.

 

A Report of the Proceedings of the Conference Held at Freemasons' Hall, London, 1846, London, Partridge and Oakey, 1847, p. 5.

 

A Study of the Evangelical Alliance in Great Britain, J. B. A Kessler, Netherlands, Oosterbaan & LeCointre N.V.--Goes, 1968, p. 17.

 

 

Masonic Roots of EA/WEF/NAE?

 

The article entitled “From the Evangelical Alliance to the World Evangelical Fellowship: 150 years of unity with a mission,” states in footnote #4:

 

4. Minutes of the Proceedings of the Conference held at Freemasons' Hall, London, 1846.

 

 

What is the significance of this meeting in London?

 

The venue of the 1846 conference which founded the Evangelical Alliance is significant. The Grand Lodge of England at Freemason Hall is the mother of all Masonic lodges, the headquarters of International Freemasonry.  The United Grand Lodge of England directed our Masonic Founding Fathers** in the American Revolution and establishment of the U.S. government. 3. The original Grand Lodge of England was built in 1717 and the present lodge is the third building on the same site.

 

The United Grand Lodge of England web site states:

 

“In 1768 the premier Grand Lodge took the momentous decision to build a Hall as its headquarters in London. A site was purchased in Great Queen Street, an architectural competition held, the Foundation Stone laid, and on 23 May 1776 the Hall was formally dedicated to the purposes of Freemasonry.” [emphasis added]

 

One can view the present United Grand Lodge of England, which is situated on the original site of the 1846 global missionary meeting where the Evangelical Alliance/ World Evangelical Fellowship was born.

 

 

From EA/WEF to the LCWE / AD 2000 & Beyond

 

W. Harold Fuller is vice-chair of the WEF International Council. Excerpts from Fuller’s article, “From the Evangelical Alliance to the World Evangelical Fellowship: 150 years of unity with a mission” show the close relationship of the Evangelical Alliance/World Evangelical Fellowship to the 1974 Lausanne Consultation on World Evangelism (LCWE) and the A.D. 2000 and Beyond Movement:

 

As John Stott has stated, “The story of the World Evangelical Fellowship, with its roots in the Evangelical Alliance (which is more than one hundred years older than the World Council of Churches), deserves to be better known.” Billy Graham adds, “WEF has been a major force in uniting evangelicals throughout the world.”(1) The evangelical movement, highlighted by the 150th-anniversary celebrations of Britain's Evangelical Alliance in November 1996, makes a fascinating study in missiology. Its growth has been fueled by its core characteristic - the evangel, the preaching of the Gospel worldwide. WEF itself is, in a sense, the bottom line of mission: churches planted as a result of mission, forming a fellowship to help each other disciple the nations.

 

In 1843 a meeting in Scotland commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Westminster Assembly issued a plea for closer unity. The same year, Presbyterian William Patton of New York wrote to British Congregationalist John Angell James, recommending an interchurch conference to outline the truths on which churches agreed.(3) A series of discussions and prayer gatherings led to a General Conference held in London August 19 to September 2, 1846. Eight hundred leaders from fifty-two “bodies of Christians” in eight nations decided to form a confederation under the name “The Evangelical Alliance.” The delegates agreed upon a doctrinal statement of basic evangelical views. They pointed out that they were not forming “a new ecclesiastical organization” but expressing the spiritual unity that already existed “among all who, loving the Lord Jesus Christ, are bound to love one another.”(4) [4. Minutes of the Proceedings of the Conference held at Freemasons’ Hall, London, 1846.]…

 

In 1951 at Woudschoten, Netherlands, 91 men and women from 21 countries met as the International Convention of Evangelicals. They voted to establish the World Evangelical Fellowship. (8) Two Anglican theologians, A. Jack Dain and John R. W. Stott, (9) provided a biblical outline of the threefold purpose of WEF… [9. John Stott later drafted the historic Lausanne Covenant, 1974.]… [See Key Leaders of WEF***]

 

Today WEF, headquarted in Singapore, embraces 150 million evangelicals in 112 national and regional fellowships representing an estimated 600,000 churches. A Filipino lawyer/clergyman, Agustin Jun Vencer, is international director, responsible to an International Council elected by member bodies…

 

Whereas some evangelicals have at times been reactionary and defensive, African theologian Tokunboh Adeyemo, chairman of the WEF International Council, positions WEF positively. "We do not define ourselves by what we are against as much as what we are for," he says. "That includes the inspiration of the scriptures, the deity of Jesus Christ, salvation by faith alone in the finished work of redemption provided by Jesus Christ, and the unity of the Spirit among all who confess Jesus Christ as their personal Savior."(16)…

 

Because of its positive, well-defined position, WEF is now recognized by WCC and other global councils as representing a distinct worldwide constituency. For instance, WEF participates in the annual Conference of Secretaries of World Christian Communities, for purposes of communication. WEF also maintains close ties with other evangelical global organizations. The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism (LCWE, or “Lausanne”) and WEF at times have formed joint task forces and copublished reports. The two movements are currently examining a closer relationship, while recognizing their distinctives: WEF derives its authority from ongoing evangelical fellowships, while Lausanne functions through ad hoc committees. (17) Another global evangelistic conglomerate, AD2000, often works through WEF leaders and personnel in national projects.

 

In its first century the EA was active in defending religious liberty and human rights, but its national bodies were less active in the mid-twentieth century.

 

Social action. The natural reaction of a minority group, such as evangelicals find themselves to be in many lands, is to retreat into defensive isolation. WEF encourages them to find creditable ways to address their community's needs, such as relief and development, reconciliation, and special problems such as may be found, for instance, among women and youth.

 

Religious liberty. WEF helps to bring international public opinion to bear on regimes that violate human rights, particularly religious liberty. As well, the size of its global constituency can cause a government to respect local minorities, whether Christian or of other faiths. 4.

 

References

 

  1. David, M. Howard, The Dream That Would Not Die: The birth and growth of the World Evangelical Fellowship 1846-1986, The Paternoster Press, 1986, p. 7.
  2. Ibid., p. 16.
  3. U.G.L.E. later orchestrated the Civil War through the agency of Confederate General Albert Pike, who was the Sovereign Grand Commander of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Southern Jurisdiction. “Why Albert Pike’s Statue Must Fall: The Scottish Rite’s KKK Project,” Anton Chaitkin, http://www.etext.org/Politics/LaRouche/pikefall.txt
  4. “From the Evangelical Alliance to the World Evangelical Fellowship: 150 years of unity with a mission,” W. Harold Fuller, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, October, 1996.  W. Harold Fuller is vice-chair of the WEF International Council and author of the updated history of the EA and WEF, People of the Mandate (Carlisle, U.K.: Paternoster; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996).

 

Global Prayer Movement Database: Missions Mobilization: Early Streams: Evangelical Alliance