Emphasizing evangelism and social concern, in that order, the National Association of Evangelicals rolled merrily past its twenty-fifth anniversary convention. To the disappointment of some, delegates sidestepped growing pressures for wider evangelical unity.The NAE claims a direct constituency of 2.5 million and a “service constituency” (people organizationally unrelated but receiving NAE benefits) of ten million. Many additional millions of evangelicals have no common fellowship (see Feb. 17 issue, p. 52).
Convention speakers reflected social concern and made it a recurring theme. But a 977-word manifesto made clear the NAE principle of placing needs of the soul above those of the body. The document affirms the Great Commission as “the sole and sufficient preoccupation of the Church.” In a companion “covenant,” NAE’s common ground is given as “acceptance of the infallibility and plenary authority of Scripture.”
During the three-day convention, held this month in the Staffer Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles, plans were announced for a second World Congress on Evangelism, patterned on last fall’s meeting in Berlin. It is being projected for 1970, possibly in an Asian city. A North American Congress on Evangelism is also in the works, for 1968.
The Rev. Billy A. Melvin, until now the chief administrator for the Southern-oriented 173,000-member National Association of Free Will Baptists, was named executive director of NAE.
At $25 a plate, 1,000 persons jammed the hotel’s Pacific Ballroom for a silver anniversary dinner address by Billy Graham. The evangelist said “we have become complacent about our social responsibilities and are in danger of theological complacency.” He asserted that “doctrinal compromise also brings moral compromise.” ...1
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