The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE)
What is the National Association of Evangelicals?
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is a fellowship of member denominations, churches, organizations, and individuals. Its stated goal is to honor God by connecting and representing evangelicals in the United States. Today it works in four main areas: Church & Faith Partners, Government Relations, Chaplains Commission, and World Relief. The NAE is a member of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).
The mission statement of the National Association of Evangelicals, is "to honor God by connecting and representing evangelical Christians."
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) was formed by a group of 147 people who met in St. Louis, Missouri on April 7–9, 1942. The Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy and the related isolation of various evangelical denominations and leaders provided the impetus for developing such an organization.
Early leaders in the movement included Harold Ockenga, David Otis Fuller, Will Houghton, Harry A. Ironside, Bob Jones, Sr., Leslie Roy Marston, John R. Rice, Charles Woodbridge, and J. Elwin Wright. Houghton called for a meeting in Chicago, Illinois in 1941. A committee was formed with Wright as chairman, and a national conference for United Action Among Evangelicals was called to meet in April 1942. Harold Ockenga was appointed the first president (1942–44).
Carl McIntire and Harvey Springer led in organizing the American Council of Christian Churches (now with 7 member bodies) in September 1941. It was a more militant and fundamentalist organization set up in opposition to the Federal Council of Churches (now National Council of Churches with 36 member bodies). McIntire invited the Evangelicals for United Action to join with them, but those who met in St. Louis declined the offer.
The tentative organization founded in 1942 was called the "National Association of Evangelicals for United Action". In 1943 the proposed constitution and doctrinal statement were amended and adopted, and the name shortened to the "National Association of Evangelicals".
By the 1950s, NAE's Washington, D.C., office gained a reputation as a service organization that could get things done. President Eisenhower welcomed an NAE delegation to the White House - a first-time honor for the association. At the NAE's 1983 conference in Orlando, Florida, NAE President Rev. Arthur Evans Gay, Jr. introduced President Ronald Reagan for what was to become known as his "Evil Empire" speech.
The 50th anniversary of the organization was celebrated in 1992 at the annual March Convention at the Chicago Hyatt Hotel. President George H. W. Bush spoke to the World Relief annual luncheon at the invitation of the organization's president Arthur Gay, making Bush the third President to address the NAE. During the convention Billy Graham spoke for the last time at an NAE gathering, calling on evangelicals to a renewed commitment to spread the gospel.
In a move signaling its primary focus, the NAE changed its annual convention venue from hotels and convention centers to churches. In 2003, the first church-hosted convention was held at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. President George W. Bush, running for reelection in 2004, visited the NAE convention at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., via satellite link and told the delegates, "You cannot endorse me, but I endorse you." In 2004, the NAE adopted "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility" document  as its framework for engagement in political action.
With a record of over 65 years of facilitating evangelical unity, witness and cooperation, the NAE is the only institutional structure and the most representative agency of American evangelicals in the 21st century.
There are over 40 denominations representing approximately 45,000 churches in the organization. The organization is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Leith Anderson has been its president since November 7, 2006.
National Religious Broadcasters
In 1944, the NAE formed the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) at its convention in Columbus, Ohio. NRB was the first of many related service agencies NAE would charter with a particular purpose in mind. Following the lead of CBS and NBC, the Mutual Radio Network had announced it would no longer sell time for religious broadcasting and turned the Protestant broadcasting slot over to the Federal Council of Churches. NRB, after holding its own constitutional convention later that year, responded to the challenge, eventually persuading the networks to reverse their policies.
The Chaplains Commission
In addition to NRB, NAE created the Chaplains Commission in 1944 to assist evangelical chaplains in the military. The NAE Chaplains Commission provides support and endorsement for evangelicals to minister as chaplains to three branches of the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Free exercise and expression of faith in U.S. military institutions is a primary cause that the Chaplains Commission supports.
The War Relief Commission was formed in 1944 to address the needs of war-torn Europe. The War Relief Commission sent clothing and food to victims of World War II. After the war, the War Relief Commission expanded its outreach beyond war relief, and its name changed to World Relief. As the humanitarian arm of the NAE, World Relief offers assistance to victims of poverty, disease, hunger, war, disasters and persecution.
The organization has offices worldwide. It is supported by churches and individual donors, as well as through United States Government grants from USAID and other agencies. World Relief’s core programs focus on microfinance, AIDS prevention and care, maternal and child health, child development, agricultural training, disaster response, refugee resettlement and immigrant services.
The Mission Exchange
In 1945, NAE created the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association (later called the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies and now The Mission Exchange , the largest missionary association in the world), which was chartered to handle the special needs of missionaries and their agencies.
New International Version
An NAE initiative in the 1950s with long-range consequences was the formation of a committee in 1957 to explore the possibility of a new translation of the Bible. The National Council had five years earlier released the Revised Standard Version, but the new translation did not prove popular among many evangelicals.
The NAE committee began meeting with a similar committee commissioned by the Christian Reformed Church in 1961. By 1965, the two committees formed the independent Committee on Bible Translation and two years later, the New York Bible Society (today the International Bible Society) became the official sponsor. In 1978, the first copies of the New International Version of the Bible came off the presses.
For the Health of the Nation
The Evangelical Project for Public Engagement was initiated at the 60th annual convention of the NAE in March 2001. The project team worked to articulate a framework for evangelical civic and political engagement for the 21st century under the direction of Richard Cizik, then-Vice President of Governmental Affairs. The project generated a major volume edited by Diane Knippers and Ronald Sider and published by Baker Books titled "Toward an Evangelical Public Policy."
"For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility" is a summary of the larger volume that calls evangelicals to address seven spheres of social involvement from a biblical framework and also provides specific principles of engagement. The NAE's political action is based on the document, which outlines seven different issues that are important to evangelicals, including religious freedom, family life and protection of children, sanctity of life, caring for the poor and vulnerable, human rights, peacemaking, and caring for creation.
Though actively engaged in all seven areas of the 2004 document titled "For the Health of the Nation," the NAE gained much notice for the seventh point of that document; this section of the document calls on evangelicals to "protect God's creation."
In the May 2008, then-NAE Vice President for Governmental Affairs Richard Cizik was named to the TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World along with Eric Chivian, director of Harvard's Center for Health and the Global Environment, for their collaboration on caring for the environment. Cizik's advocacy on climate change has been controversial among evangelicals.
In December 2008, Leith Anderson reaffirmed that "For the Health of the Nation" contains the NAE's only official position on the environment, and confirmed that "we don't [have a specific position] on global warming or emissions. [Cizik] has spoken as an individual on that." Cizik resigned from his position at the NAE in December 2008.
In May 2010, The NAE established the Generation Forum to explore how evangelical Christians can be involved in collaborative efforts aimed at reducing the number of abortions in the United States.
Members of the NAE believe that the Bible reveals God’s calling and care for persons before they are born, which is why the NAE firmly opposes abortion on demand. This conviction also fuels the NAE’s interest in the growing conversation about how to find common ground in the effort to reduce the abortion rate in the United States. More than one million abortions annually is deeply troubling and unacceptable, according to the NAE.
Members of the NAE believe there are many people across traditional dividing lines who share this view. However, the NAE's 2010 position statement on abortion does not set forth any specific legislative proposals that would prohibit or limit abortion; rather, the 2010 statement expresses a desire to "dramatically reduce the incidence of abortion in the United States."
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