The National Association of Evangelicals was founded in 1942 as a fresh voice for biblical, Christ-centered faith that was meant to be a “middle way” between the fundamentalist American Council of Christian Churches and the progressive Federal Council of Churches.
NAE’s founders were committed to a serious and thoughtful evangelical witness that reflected a positive and comprehensive vision of gospel in word and deed. Moreover, the emergence of the NAE provided a theological and ecclesial “home” for dozens of Protestant denominations, colleges/universities, and organizations and millions of evangelical Christians to be unified in common cause, notwithstanding their many differences.
With a record of nearly 80 years of facilitating evangelical unity, witness and cooperation, the NAE is well situated to continue providing strategic leadership for evangelicals. To this day, the NAE remains the only institutional structure and the most representative agency of American evangelicals in the 21st century. It serves a critical need by providing stability and connectedness for evangelicals while projecting a trusted voice for the evangelical movement that speaks with wisdom and clarity.Learn More About NAE's History
The NAE was founded by 1,000 leaders as a new coalition to unify evangelicals and to function as a “middle way” between the bitterly divided fundamentalist and progressive streams of American Christianity.
In response to the World War II refugee crisis, the NAE established the War Relief Commission (now World Relief). As the NAE’s relief and development arm, World Relief is a wholly owned subsidiary of the NAE. In the same year, the NAE founded the Chaplains Commission to serve evangelical chaplains.
At the start of the Civil Rights movement, the NAE passed a resolution denouncing racial discrimination and urging all evangelicals to practice a culture of life. The first annual Federal Seminar (now Christian Student Leadership Conference) was also held in Washington, D.C., this year. It has introduced thousands of young evangelicals to the opportunities of public service.
The New International Version was published, culminating a decades-long process that began with the NAE forming a committee to explore a new translation of the Bible. Today the NIV is the most popular Bible in the United States.
The NAE completed a multi-year research project on Peace, Freedom and Security Studies that helped redefine a third way approach to national security and world peace in the midst of the Cold War.
The U.S. Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which the NAE heavily advocated for as part of a broad coalition of secular and religious groups.
The NAE published “For the Health of the Nation,” a resource for Christian discipleship designed to encourage thoughtful evangelical engagement.
The NAE’s annual Denominational Executives Retreat started to bring denominational CEOs and their spouses together to be equipped and encouraged in their unique places of ministry.
Today’s Conversation podcast and Evangelicals magazine, among other resources, were launched to help evangelical leaders and their communities navigate complexity with biblical clarity.
The NAE diversified its leadership with the installation of Walter Kim as president, John Jenkins as board chair and Jo Anne Lyon as board vice chair.
“The National Association of Evangelicals has played a critical role in speaking on behalf of the millions of Christians who are committed to justice. By virtue of its influence and voice, many churches, denominations and organizations have been strengthened and empowered.”
Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Glenarden