The Brief History of The Christian & Missionary Alliance Denomination
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The Alliance Doctrinal Statement
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What is The Christian and Missionary Alliance?
The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) is an evangelical denomination with a major emphasis on world evangelization. It maintains a “big tent” stance in reference to many doctrinal matters, encouraging believers of diverse backgrounds and theological traditions to unite in an alliance to know and exalt Jesus Christ and to complete His Great Commission.
All of this began more than 100 years ago when Albert B. Simpson, a Presbyterian minister from Canada, was moved by God to reach the masses of unsaved people he saw about him and throughout the world.
In 1882 he plunged into a ministry among New York’s masses. His Gospel Tabernacle became a center for evangelism and physical healing. He also launched an illustrated magazine promoting Christian life and missions which later became the Alliance Life. To publish his magazine and his sermons, he began in 1883 the Christian Alliance Publishing Company now Christian Publications. That same year he founded his missionary Training College, the first North American Bible College to prepare men and women for missionary service. It is now Nyack ( New York) College.
The International Missionary Alliance came into being in 1887. A second organization, the Christian Alliance, was founded as well to promote what Simpson called “deeper life” teaching. By deeper life, Simpson meant the filling of the Holy Spirit as the Christian makes a total surrender to God. Ten years later, in 1897, these two organizations merged to become The Christian and Missionary Alliance.
It was not Simpson’s intention to begin a new denomination. His objective was an interdenominational fellowship to promote foreign missions and deeper life teaching. After the turn of the century, liberal trends in the mainline denominations caused many Bible-believing Christians to leave their churches and group together in congregations loyal to the Word of God. Many of these affiliated with The Christian and Missionary Alliance. In 1912, these congregations became Alliance churches. By the mid-1970’s, it became clear that the Alliance was a denomination in all but name, so with revised bylaws and constitution, that reality was formalized in 1974.
What is the C&MA doing overseas?
Beginning in 1884, the C&MA gradually expanded from a five-member team in Congo to more than 1,100 missionaries in 49 nations and churches in 66 countries and territories. With emphasis on establishing churches among unreached people groups and responsive populations worldwide, the C&MA is involved also in many types of specialized missions such as communications, medical work, translation, and relief and development aid. While most workers come from the United States, others are supported by churches in Canada and other nations. Many of the overseas national churches belong to The Alliance World Fellowship, a fraternal group with 2.5 million members in over 40 nations.
Today the Alliance is still first and foremost an alliance of people committed to worldwide evangelization. It concentrates on evangelism and church planting. Those it sends forth as ministers and missionaries must be strong in their faith, filled with the Spirit of God and motivated to reach people who are without Christ. No two Alliance churches are exactly the same, for they minister uniquely in diverse communities. Despite the diversity they are united in their purpose to communicate God’s love to a lost world.
What is the C&MA doing in the United States?
With churches in every state of the Union, the denomination totals about 350,000 believers in nearly 2,000 churches. One quarter of these congregations is intercultural in character, attracting immigrants and minority groups with strong cultural heritages. Services are conducted each Sunday in 19 languages. Affiliated institutions include four colleges, a seminary, a publishing house, four retirement centers and two development/investment organizations.
What of the future?
Under the banner, “Completing Christ’s Commission,” and the leadership of the C&MA is streamlining its ministries to regain a movement spirit in the framework of a denomination, refocusing resources on unreached people groups overseas and under-evangelized communities in the United States.