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The Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) is an association of autonomous evangelical Christian congregations.

History

The Swedish Evangelical Free Church and the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Free Church Association merged in June 1950 to form the Evangelical Free Church of America. The merger conference took place at the Medicine Lake Conference Grounds near Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker. The two bodies represented 275 local congregations at the time of the merger.

The Swedish group formed as the Swedish Evangelical Free Mission in Boone, Iowamarker in October 1884. Several churches that had been members of the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Ansgar Synod and the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Synod, along with some independent congregations, were instrumental in organizing this voluntary fellowship. Also in 1884 two Norwegian-Danish groups, in Boston, Massachusettsmarker and Tacoma, Washingtonmarker, began to fellowship together. By 1912 they had formed Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Free Church Association.

The EFCA shares some early ties with those who formed the Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church. It has been a member of the National Association of Evangelicals since 1943, the year after that organization was formed.

Doctrine

The Evangelical Free Church of America claims six distinctives:
  1. Inclusive not exclusive: Believers are united in Christ by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; unity on every fine point of doctrine is not required in order to become a member of the denomination
  2. Evangelical, but not separatistic: Has a strong commitment to the authority and inerrancy of scripture, but does not over-emphasize minor issues of doctrine
  3. Ecumenical in spirit, but not in structure: The church is united spiritually in Christ, but need not be united structurally
  4. Affirms Christian liberty with responsibility and accountability
  5. Believes that both sound Christian doctrine and an active relationship with God are essential to the life of the believer
  6. Committed to a congregational form of church government


The church affirms the authority and inerrancy of the Bible; the Trinity; atonement through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; original sin; Christ as head of the church and the local church's right to self government; the personal, premillennial, imminent return of Christ; the bodily resurrection of the dead; and the two ordinances of water baptism and The Lord's Supper. The full statement of faith is available on the church website.

The EFCA passed a substantial revision to its Statement of Faith on June 26, 2008, the first revision since the Statement was first adopted in 1950. [50106] This revision was proposed in order “to update archaic language, to clarify some theological ambiguities, to seek greater theological precision, to address new issues, to have a SOF that would be better suited to be used as a teaching tool in our churches.” More information about the changes is available on the EFCA website. Specific beliefs based on biblical interpretation can vary somewhat due to the congregational governance system that gives autonomy to individual local EFCA churches.

Organizational structure

The President, the National Leadership Team, and the Board of Directors of the EFCA provide denominational leadership. The EFCA is divided into 20 regional districts to serve the needs of the local church. In 2007 the denomination had 1,291 autonomous member congregations, with an average weekly attendance of 356,286. The denomination maintains headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker, and engages in ministries in education, publications, camps, senior housing, children's homes, and camp facilities. The EFCA supports the mission of Trinity International University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, California, and supports Trinity Western Universitymarker in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

Notable EFCA leaders and pastors

EFCA Presidents

  • William J. Hamel: 1997–present
  • Paul A. Cedar: 1990–1996
  • Thomas A. McDill: 1976–1990
  • Arnold T. Olson: 1951–1976
  • E.A. Halleen: 1950–1951


Others



External links



Related Readings

  • Encyclopedia of American Religions, J. Gordon Melton, editor
  • Handbook of Denominations in the United States, by Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill, and Craig D. Atwood
  • Religious Congregations & Membership in the United States (2000), Glenmary Research Center


References

  1. About Us – Distinctives – Distinctives
  2. Strand, Greg. "Proposed Revision of the EFCA Statement of Faith: Introduction." (http://www.efca.org/about/doctrine/sof-documents.html) accessed on March 5, 2008.



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