Small Beginnings (1881-1919)
It was a November afternoon in 1881. Rev. Albert Benjamin Simpson—just resigned from his prestigious New York City pastorate weeks before—had called a meeting, inviting all Christians who supported “an aggressive spiritual movement” to reach New York City’s overlooked nonbelievers. Seven showed up.
Simpson felt an increasing concern for the “unchurched masses, the thousands who felt themselves alienated from the formal church but not from the Lord.” Within a few years of that humble gathering, the energetic pastor and his small band of followers planted the Gospel Tabernacle in the heart of the city, a church home for people of all ethnicities and social classes who were coming to Christ through Simpson’s evangelistic campaigns.
Gospel Tabernacle’s partook in outreach to the city’s ostracized. Simpson and the growing fellowship had a passion to take Jesus’ loving message to distant lands where “Christ’s name has not been named.” To prepare those called to overseas ministry, Simpson opened the Missionary Training Institute—the first North American Bible college.
By the late 1800s, the fledgling missions society had sent 180 workers overseas—two-thirds of them women—and opened 12 new foreign fields to gospel access.
Sacrifice and Expansion (1919–1946)
After Simpson’s passing, Dr. Paul Rader, a dynamic evangelist and pastor, was chosen to lead the burgeoning missions society now known as The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) or The Alliance.
And while the Great Depression and World War II impacted The Alliance, expansion into new overseas mission fields continued. Great risks and sacrifices within the movement during this period were embodied in the life of pioneer Alliance missionary to Asia, Robert A. Jaffray.
When the Great Depression threatened to halt Alliance overseas work, Jaffray declared:
“Do you ask, ‘In view of the terrible economic depression of today, dare we go forward in these new fields and commence new work?’ Yea, rather may we ask this: ‘Dare we, in the face of the command of the Lord Jesus and in the face of the encouraging miracles He is working in our behalf, hesitate for one moment?’”
Jaffray would later die in a Japanese prison camp just weeks before the end of World War ll.
The Evangelical Era (1947–1974)
Following World War II, the C&MA continued to expand locally and globally. In 1974, the C&MA officially declared itself a denomination and underwent a sweeping organizational restructuring. During this period, Dr. A. W. Tozer and Dr. Louis L. King had great influence upon The Alliance.
Dr. King, a former missionary to India, headed efforts to implement The Alliance indigenous church strategy—a move to develop each overseas C&MA church to become self-supporting, self-propagating, and self-governing.
Tozer, considered by some to be a modern-day prophet, pastored the Southside Alliance Church in Chicago for 30 years. In 1950, he was appointed editor of the Alliance Weekly magazine, now Alliance Life.
The Missionary Church Era (1975-present)
Since the mid-1970s, the C&MA in the United States and Canada has become increasingly multicultural. Over the years, U.S. Alliance churches have embraced, discipled, and equipped many immigrants from around the world who have since returned to their home cultures with a burden for the lost. Our heart for the nations has resulted in the U.S. Alliance becoming one of the most diverse evangelical churches in America.
Today, we plant churches and build and administer schools, clinics, hospitals, community centers, retirement centers, and radio stations. We also partner with other churches, governments, and non-government organizations to extend care and practical support—in the name of Jesus—to families who have been devastated by disease, poverty, political turmoil, and natural disasters.
Local Alliance churches provide the foundation for our worldwide mission through prayer and sacrificial giving to the Great Commission Fund.