World Evangelical Alliance celebrates milestone 175th anniversary

The World Evangelical Alliance is commemorating 175 years since its founding in London in 1846.

Friday marks 175 years to the day since some 800 evangelical leaders came together from 52 denominations and 11 countries to establish the WEA. 

The new alliance tapped into the momentum gained by the Great Awakenings and was founded with the vision of being "a new thing in Church history - a definite organization for the expression of unity amongst Christian individuals belonging to different churches."

Today, it is a global network with national alliances in 143 countries, representing some 600 million believers. 

In addition to advancing global mission and uniting evangelicals, the WEA has sought to speak into some of the grave social issues of the day from an evangelical perspective.

These include religious freedom, child slavery and human rights. In the UK, the Evangelical Alliance has led the challenge against the government's proposed conversion therapy ban. 

In the last decade the WEA has also sought to increase its engagement with the United Nations, where it holds Special Consultative Status in the Economic and Social Council. 

To celebrate the anniversary, the WEA will be sharing stories from its history and its engagement in society through a special website.

It will also share its vision for the future as it looks to the next 175 years.

"The WEA continues to be a testimony for the fact that amid the incredible diversity, evangelicals be united together as one. In 1846, the churches came from the whole spectrum of the Protestant faith: from Reformation times, such as Anglicans, Lutherans, Reformed and Anabaptists; from the following centuries, such as Baptists, Methodists and later the Salvation Army; and today it also includes many newer churches formed in the 20th century, such as Pentecostals, Charismatics and Independents," said Dr Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the WEA.

"Also considering the fact that each national Evangelical Alliance and each regional Alliance has its own unique history, and that evangelicals come from hundreds of ethnic groups and speak around 1,000 languages, the WEA is as colorful as never before. And this is something we would like to recognize through this Jubilee.

"As a global network that has its roots in the local churches in the neighborhoods, we continue to hold on to the central role of Jesus Christ as our personal savior, the Bible as our supreme constitution and the goal to transform the world by preaching and practicing the 'evangel', the gospel." 

The year of commemorative events is starting with a social media campaign that will feature daily prayer topics from each region of the alliance on the theme of unity. 

Dr Schirrmacher is asking evangelicals around the world to unite in prayer as they mark the milestone anniversary.

"Prayer has always been foundational to the WEA, so we want to begin the Jubilee by recognizing the diversity of the global body of Christ and the unique opportunities and challenges they face," he said.

"We are very conscious that amid the ongoing pandemic and various other natural or man-made disasters, there is a great need for prayer today. So we invite you to join us as we commemorate 175 years and as we continue to put every effort into fulfilling Jesus' prayer that all of us may be one, so that the world may believe." (John 17:21-23)