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28 October 2016

The Alliance has long lived up to its name

The Alliance has long lived up to its name

I'm sure it won't come as a surprise to read that the Evangelical Alliance has always placed great importance on evangelism.

One of the practical objects agreed at the 1846 meeting was to unite in making the gospel known and through that unity bring men and women to God.

One early example of this was led by one of the founders of the Alliance, Dr Edward Steane, who organised a series of weekly evangelistic meetings aimed at nonchurchgoers in Exeter Hall, London. The popularity of the meetings meant that on some weeks unless you got there early you wouldn't be admitted as it was full. The meetings were led by church leaders from both the established and free churches, a deliberate move to demonstrate unity by Dr Steane. Following the success of the meetings, Steane called on members of the Alliance to work together, across denominational boundaries, in their own towns to put on similar united evangelistic events; many leaders answered the call and a number of public meetings were held around the country.

In the early 20th century the Alliance started to get involved in larger scale evangelism events. Most people will probably know about the Alliance sponsoring the Billy Graham crusades in the 1950s, but there were other events of note. 

In 1924 the Alliance bought representatives from churches and Christian agencies together to fund, build and staff an evangelism bungalow on the site of the British Empire Exhibition of 1924. The exhibition was a major event aimed at encouraging international trade and celebrating the different cultures and peoples of the Empire. It comprised numerous pavilions and exhibition tents that were spread over a 216-acre site at Wembley, London. The Alliance brought together many Christian agencies and churches to fund, build and staff an evangelism bungalow on the site. The exhibition was open for six months in 1924 and was reopened again in 1925. Twenty million people visited the exhibition over the two years. The evangelism bungalow was used to hold prayer services and small public talks, and was used as a base for those doing outreach to exhibition goers as well as to the workers at the exhibition. The Alliance also organised, in partnership with other Christian groups, evangelistic meetings addressed by the well- known evangelists John McNeil and Gipsy Smith at the large conference hall of the exhibition.

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