29 August 2013
Archbishop of Canterbury appeals to Evangelical Alliance to help break disunity within the Church
The Archbishop of Canterbury praised the Evangelical Alliance for continuing to fight for a united Church in his address at the opening of their new premises in King's Cross.
He likened the Church to a married couple drifting apart but not quite reaching the point of divorce and charged the Alliance with wakening the Church "out of any comfort of disunity".
When asked whether he considered himself an evangelical, he said: "Yes I am. In theology, I am."
He went on to comment, however, that "in party terms I'm absolutely not an evangelical – the Bible tells me we shouldn't have groups and factions within the church".
Archbishop Justin was addressing evangelical leaders at the opening of the Alliance's new home in King's Cross, London.
He went on to praise the Alliance for its role in supporting racial unity within the Church through the One People Commission, and for its pioneering work to free children from long-term care by finding them adoptive and foster parents through its Home for Good programme.
He referred to the past position of evangelical Christians as being against things but how that had changed since the establishment of the Alliance in 1846. "We are not against things. We are in favour of things. The Evangelical Alliance is an alliance and in the past I suspect that when it started… that there would have been a certain amount of it being an alliance that was against because that's how Christians worked in those days.
"I rather suspect that the thought of an Archbishop of Canterbury speaking to it would not have been very welcome. Yet today we come knowing that we are one people, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
"And that is the most extraordinary work of the spirit. Alliances must be seen as for. One of the things that I think is most noticeable – where we make a bad impression in society at the moment – is when we're seen as against things. We come across too easily as negative. We don't intend to, but we do. What is so impressive about what is going on here [at the Evangelical Alliance] is that this is for what the Church is for."
The Evangelical Alliance, which started in 1846, moved from its former home in Kennington to its new purpose-built resource centre in the heart of the King's Cross regeneration area earlier this year.
"We believe God is the one who has provided for us," said Steve Clifford, general director of the Alliance. "This is a place that we very much want to dedicate to God, to His service, to the service of His Church, to a place where He is glorified in this environment where we are able to work together."
The Evangelical Alliance's membership includes 3,500 churches, 24,000 individuals and more than 700 organisations.
The Archbishop of Canterbury's address is available to view online, along with other videos and audio recordings from the event.
Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.