While celebrating a decade of rapid growth, leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) meeting at their annual convention last month in Phoenix pointed to the fact that there are “more evangelical Christians outside the NAE fold than within it.” Executive director Billy Melvin called for “aggressive advances” to evangelicals in mainline and minority denominations to broaden the alliance.

The NAE posted a 58 percent increase in communicant membership over the past ten years, the largest such increase since the association’s early years, according to a report released at the convention. Membership increases in 18 church bodies accounted for about one-third of the growth, while two-thirds came from the addition of 11 new denominations.

At the convention, the NAE welcomed the Reformed Episcopal Church (100 churches with 6,500 people) and the Congregational Holiness Church (175 churches with 7,500 people) as its newest members. The additions bring NAE membership to 44 denominations and three denominational subunits representing a total of 4.1 million communicants.

Though welcoming the growth, Melvin, in his convention address, estimated that 30 million evangelicals remain outside any national evangelical body. Contacts with Southern Baptists, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and fundamentalists who no longer shun fellowship with evangelicals should continue to be nurtured by naming leaders from those groups to NAE committees and commissions, he said. Individuals from some of those groups do hold personal memberships in the NAE and have attended association meetings as observers, Melvin said.

Other developments at this year’s convention include the following:

• Delegates approved the nomination of B. Edgar Johnson, ...

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