World Evangelical Alliance
WEA Logo 2021.jpg
Logo since 2021
ClassificationProtestant
OrientationInterdenominational Evangelical
LeaderThomas Schirrmacher
Associations9 Regional, 143 National Evangelical Alliances
RegionWorldwide
HeadquartersDeerfield, Illinois; UN offices in New York City, Geneva, Bonn
Origin20 August 1846
London, England, United Kingdom
Members600 million
Official websiteworldea.org

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is an interdenominational organization of evangelical Christian churches, serving more than 600 million evangelicals, founded in 1846 in London, England, United Kingdom to unite evangelicals worldwide. WEA is the largest international organization of evangelical churches. The headquarters are in Deerfield, Illinois, with UN offices in New York City, Geneva, and Bonn. It brings together 9 regional and 143 national evangelical alliances of churches, and over one hundred member organizations. Moreover, the WEA includes a certain percentage of individual evangelical Christian churches. As of March 2021, the Secretary General of the WEA is German theologian Thomas Schirrmacher.

History

The organization has its origins in the Evangelical Alliance, a British organization founded in 1846 by 52 evangelical denominations in London, England.[1][2] In 1912, it took the name of World Evangelical Alliance. [3] In 1951, the World Evangelical Fellowship was founded by evangelical leaders from 21 countries at the first general assembly in Woudschoten (Zeist) in the Netherlands.[4][5] In 2001, after the General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, WEF became the World Evangelical Alliance.[6] As of 2005, the WEA was experiencing a collegiate management under the leadership of its Canadian leader, Geoff Tunnicliffe. Offices were opened in Vancouver, Canada (Leadership), San Francisco (Information Technology), Washington (Publications), and Geneva (International Relations). In 2006, it opened an office at the UN in Geneva, which added to that in New York City.[7] In 2018, it established its headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois, United States.[8]

Beliefs

The Alliance has an evangelical confession of faith.[9]

Leadership

The governance of the organization is ensured by a Secretary-General and regional secretaries in the 9 continental member regions.[10] German Thomas Schirrmacher has been the Secretary-General since March 1, 2021.[11]

List of former leaders

This list contains the former leaders of the WEA since 1951.[12]

Commissions

In 1974, the WEA created six commissions to better achieve its mandates.[14][15][16]

Statistics

In 2020, WEA brought together 143 national alliances of churches that would have 600 million believers.[17] Moreover, the WEA unites only a certain percentage of evangelical churches, because some churches are not members of a Christian denomination or national alliance.[18]

Membership

The World Evangelical Alliance embraces member-bodies whose identity and vocation are rooted in what it understands as historic biblical Christianity.[19] WEA affirms and seeks the biblical unity of Christ's body, the Church, celebrating the diversity of practices and theological emphases consistent with the WEA Statement of Faith, recognizing the existing dynamic tension between unity and diversity.

There are three types of membership, each with its distinct qualifications and responsibilities: [20]

General Assemblies

A General Assembly takes place every six years in a country that differs depending on the year.[21] It is a time of prayer and conferences for national alliances and associations.[22] It is an opportunity for decision making and the training of leaders of each country. The last GA was held in 2019 in Jakarta in Indonesia and the leaders notably committed to building alliances in the 62 countries that do not have them and getting more involved in the religious freedom. [23]

Publications

There are two quarterly publications: a journal Evangelical Review of Theology (published on behalf by Paternoster Periodicals since 1977) and a newsletter Theological News (since 1969). Books are published occasionally.[25]

Global engagements

Development

The fight against poverty is a major concern of the WEA.[26] Publications and meetings of the Alliance are the means used to influence and inspire development initiatives and actions humanitarian in churches, NGOs and political.[27] It is the origin of the Micah Challenge, an initiative to educate Christians and promote decision making among leaders.[28]

Ecumenical participation

On June 5, 2010, Geoff Tunnicliffe, the International Director of the WEA, appeared alongside the leaders of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches (WCC) in a press conference, entitled “Christian unity today”, at the Edinburgh 2010 Conference. The gathering marked the centennial of the 1910 World Missionary Conference.[29] In the same year, on 17 October 2010, Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the WCC, gave an invited address to the 3rd International Congress of the Lausanne Movement.[30] In the address he said, "we are called to participate in the one mission of God".[30] The World Evangelical Alliance, Geoff Tunnicliffe, the International Director and other WEA leaders were involved at each level in the development of the programme, and helped choose its participants.[31] In May 2014 the Lausanne International Student Ministry Global Leadership Network became a "docked network" with the WEA's Mission Commission.[32]

On 22 January 2015, the WCC and WEA announced plans for closer cooperation, worship and witness.[33][34] In the same year, in June 2015, the WEA reported that discussions with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity were finalised, and that "the open questions of the 16th century are almost answered".[35] The WEA representatives also reported that "still open is the question to what extend [sic] evangelical Christians who stem from the reformation churches have full access to salvation according to the catholic view".[35]

On May 24, 2017, the WEA participated in a two-day Global Christian Forum meeting with the World Council of Churches, officials from the Vatican and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the Pentecostal World Federation to facilitate moves 'towards greater oneness in Christ'.[36] The meeting was held at the WCC's Bossey Ecumenical Institute.[37] Some criticism was voiced of the WEA for lack of consultation about this move, the absence of regional and national discussion, or a vote of the General Assembly prior to the meeting.[38]

Advocacy for human rights and freedom of religion

The WEA is also advocating for the respect of human rights, including freedom of religion and belief for all. Furthermore, its involvement with UN mechanisms (Human Rights and other) has grown into a dedicated department, the "Global Advocacy Department".[39]

The WEA has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC) since 1997, which allows it to engage in the UN mechanisms with statements, reports, and recommendations, notably as part of the Human Rights Council sessions and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).[40]

In the context of the UPR, several recommendations from the WEA have been reiterated by States, meaning that recommendations formulated in a very similar way than those suggested by the WEA, appear in the final recommendations addressed to the State under review, on behalf of a reviewing State. This was the case for its reports regarding human trafficking in Switzerland (2012)[41][42] and Canada (2018),[43][44] its report on religious freedom in Bhutan in 2019,[45][46] and its report on Iran in 2020[47] for which the WEA successfully advocated for the inclusion of “Christian converts” as a group whose religious freedom should be respected by Iran.[48]

Regarding the Human Rights Council sessions, an example of the WEA’s impact was reported by Evangelical Focus.[49] In 2020, the WEA made a statement, as part of the UPR's outcome adoption of Spain, mentioning unreasonably high standards for non-Catholic religious communities in Catalonia and discrimination against retired Protestant pastors who have been excluded from the pension system since Franco’s regime. The Spanish ambassador responded to WEA’s statement at the Human Rights Council session[50] and both recommendations were accepted. At the end of 2020, the Evangelical Council of Catalonia announced that an agreement had been reached with the municipality of L'Hospitalet de Llobregat to avoid the closure of five churches.[51]

Criticism

Neglect of the suffering church in China

The WEA was criticised for its positive assessment of the situation of the churches in China, after meeting with government-approved representatives in 2009. China Aid and Church in Chains claimed, "There are many Christians in China who are not free to worship, do not have Bibles of their own and are not free to organise their own affairs and this situation is not mentioned in your press release… our concern is that you have turned your back on these brothers and sisters."[52][53] One exemplary case of abuse, that of the imprisoned Uyghur Christian, Alimujiang Yimiti, was raised in the criticism, but the WEA did not respond in detail.[52][53]

See also

References

  1. ^ William A. Dyrness, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Global Dictionary of Theology: A Resource for the Worldwide Church, InterVarsity Press, USA, 2009, p. 950.
  2. ^ Donald F. Durnbaugh, The Believers' Church: The History and Character of Radical Protestantism, Wipf and Stock Publishers, USA, 2003, p. 293
  3. ^ WEA, Our History, worldea.org, USA, retrieved December 5, 2020
  4. ^ Roger E. Olson, The Westminster Handbook to Evangelical Theology, Westminster John Knox Press , UK, 2004, p. 100.
  5. ^ Brian Stanley, The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott, InterVarsity Press, USA, 2013, p. 73.
  6. ^ Lewis, Donald M.; Pierard, Richard V. (2014), Global Evangelicalism: Theology, History & Culture in Regional Perspective, USA: InterVarsity Press, p. 114.
  7. ^ WEA, WEA Opens Advocacy Office in Geneva, worldea.org, USA, July 26, 2006
  8. ^ WEA, WEA Opens Operations Office at Trinity International University near Chicago, IL, worldea.org, USA, October 30, 2018
  9. ^ World Evangelical Alliance, Statement of Faith, worldea.org, USA, retrieved April 17, 2020
  10. ^ WEA, Leadership, worldea.org, USA, retrieved September 5, 2021
  11. ^ Incoming WEA Secretary General Bp Dr Thomas Schirrmacher Highlights “DNA of Christianity” in Inaugural Speech Focused on “Who Are Evangelicals?”
  12. ^ WEA, Our History, worldea.org, USA, retrieved December 5, 2020
  13. ^ "WEA International Council Appoints Dr Thomas Schirrmacher as Next Secretary General / CEO, Starting in March 2021 | World Evangelical Alliance". Retrieved 2020-12-17.
  14. ^ WEA, WHAT WE DO, worldea.org, USA, retrieved December 5, 2020
  15. ^ Brian Stiller, Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century, Thomas Nelson Publishing, USA, 2015, page 214
  16. ^ Norman E. Thomas, "Missions and Unity: Lessons from History, 1792-2010", USA, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2010, pages 137-138
  17. ^ WEA, Our History, worldea.org, USA, retrieved December 5, 2020
  18. ^ Brian Stiller, Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century, Thomas Nelson, USA, 2015, p. 39
  19. ^ WEA, WHO WE ARE, worldea.org, USA, retrieved December 5, 2020
  20. ^ WEA, ABOUT OUR MEMBERS, worldea.org, USA, retrieved December 5, 2020
  21. ^ Brian Stiller, Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century, Thomas Nelson Publishing, USA, 2015, page 213
  22. ^ Patrice de Plunkett, ""Les évangéliques à la conquête du monde", Editions Perrin, France, 2009, page 93
  23. ^ Vlady Raichinov, WEA GA: Intergenerational disciple making and mission in urban cultures, evangelicalfocus.com, Spain, November 11, 2019
  24. ^ Vlady Raichinov, WEA GA: Intergenerational disciple making and mission in urban cultures, evangelicalfocus.com, Spain, November 11, 2019
  25. ^ "Publications". WEA Theological Commission. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  26. ^ Ronald J. Sider, Diane Knippers, 'Toward an Evangelical Public Policy: Political Strategies for the Health of the Nation, USA, Baker Books, 2005, page 242
  27. ^ Matthew Clarke, "Handbook of Research on Development and Religion", Australia, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013, pages 426-427
  28. ^ Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Peter Sandøe, Ethics, Hunger and Globalization: In Search of Appropriate Policies, Springer Science & Business Media, USA, 2007, p. 86
  29. ^ "Ecumenism helps Catholics move beyond a 'theology of exclusion'". Ekklesia website. 2010-06-10. Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  30. ^ a b "Greetings to the 3rd Lausanne Congress for World Evangelization". World Council of Churches website. 2010-10-17. Archived from the original on 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2015-02-23.
  31. ^ "Cape Town 2010 FAQS". Lausanne Cape Town Conference 2010. 2011. Archived from the original on August 7, 2011. Retrieved 2015-02-23.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  32. ^ Chinn, Leiton Edward; Chinn, Lisa Espineli (April 2016). "Agents of Diaspora Missions in and from the Academic World". In Tira, Sadiri Joy; Yamamori, Tetsunao (eds.). Scattered and Gathered: A Global Compendium of Diaspora Missiology. Wipf & Stock. pp. 228–241. ISBN 978-1498296670.
  33. ^ "WEA and WCC representatives explore possibilities of working together". World Council of Churches website. 2015-01-22. Archived from the original on 2015-02-23. Retrieved 2015-02-23.
  34. ^ "WEA and WCC Representatives Explore Possibilities of Working Together". WEA website. 2015-01-22. Archived from the original on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2015-02-23.
  35. ^ a b "Evangelicals Finalise Pontifical Council Dialogue" (PDF). WEA website, WEA Theological News. 2015-06-01. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-10-23. Retrieved 2015-12-26.
  36. ^ "Historic meeting to support the Global Christian Forum". Ecumenical Patriarchate Permanent Delegation To The World Council Of Churches. 2017-05-29. Archived from the original on 2017-08-30. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  37. ^ ""Greater Oneness in Christ" focus of dialogue at historic meeting in Bossey". World Council Of Churches. 2017-05-27. Archived from the original on 2019-04-07. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  38. ^ ""Greater Oneness in Christ": What Does it Mean?". Reformanda Initiative. 2017-09-01. Archived from the original on 2019-04-07. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  39. ^ "Global Advocacy". World Evangelical Alliance. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  40. ^ World Evangelical Alliance, (2021) “2020 ANNUAL REPORT
  41. ^ Human Rights Council (2012), “Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review : Switzerland”, Official Document System (un.org), Cote : A/HRC/22/11
  42. ^ "Switzerland: Human Trafficking – Joint Report to the UPR 14th session – WEA at the United Nations". un.worldea.org. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  43. ^ Human Rights Council (2012), “2018), Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review : Canada, Official Document System, Cote : A/HRC/22/11
  44. ^ "Canada: Sexual Exploitation, Prostitution, Human Trafficking, Pornography, and Freedom of Religion – Joint report to the UPR 30th session – WEA at the United Nations". un.worldea.org. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  45. ^ Human Rights Council (2019), “Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review : Bhutan”, Official Document System, Cote : A/HRC/42/8
  46. ^ "Bhutan: Freedom of Religion or Belief – Report to the UPR 33rd session – WEA at the United Nations". un.worldea.org. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  47. ^ Human Rights Council (2020), “Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review”, Official Document System, Cote: A/HRC/43/12
  48. ^ "WEA Submits Joint Report to the United Nations on Freedom of Religion and Christian Persecution in Iran – WEA at the United Nations". un.worldea.org. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  49. ^ "Spain accepts two religious freedom recommendations presented by the WEA at the UN Human Rights Council". Evangelical Focus. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  50. ^ WEA Addresses Freedom of Religion & Situation of Retired Pastors in Spain at Human Rights Council, retrieved 2022-05-11
  51. ^ "Initial agreement to avoid the closure of 5 evangelical churches in Catalonia". Evangelical Focus. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  52. ^ a b "China: Growing Criticism of WEA "misleading" statement". Church in Chains. 2010-01-08. Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  53. ^ a b "ChinaAid Responds to World Evangelical Alliance's Statement on their Visit to China". ChinaAid. 2009-12-20. Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2015-02-25. Alt URL