The Evangelical Alliance was founded in 1846 in London, by representatives of fifty Protestant churches, for the purpose of uniting all Protestant churches of the world which had a common foundation of faith in order to resist hostile influences and to strengthen and further the cause of a Biblical-evangelical Christianity. A confession of faith adopted at London covered nine points, in which belief was expressed in a triune God, justification only by faith and the absolute authority of the Holy Scriptures. At the same conference seven branch unions were decided upon; two of them in Germany, of which one covered North Germany, the other South Germany and Switzerland.
The climax of the alliance movement was reached in Berlin in 1857. This important international meeting was attended by 1,252 participants. Eight Mennonites were present; these were the ministers Berend Carl Roosen of Hamburg-Altona, Johannes Molenaar of Monsheim, Johannes Risser of Sembach, Quiring of Thiensdorf, Epp of Heubuden, Jakob Mannhardt of Danzig, the merchant August Momber of Danzig, and Wilhelm Mannhardt of Berlin. Risser wrote a detailed, enthusiastic report of the conference (Mennonitische Blätter : 63 ff.). Similar meetings were held in Geneva (1861), Amsterdam (1867), New York (1873), Basel (1879), Copenhagen (1884), Florence (1891), London (1896), Florence (1903) and London (1906).
No later meeting succeeded in stirring up as much enthusiasm as that in Berlin. More and more, partisan attacks by the Alliance element against the Protestanten-Verein and against stiff Lutheranism caused trouble. Also, complaints arose against the encroachment and unbrotherly attitude of the Baptists and Methodists, which prevented agreement and hindered cooperation. On the other hand, the practical achievements of the Alliance must be recognized. In 1855 it effectively stood up for the rights of the Baptists of Prussia and Mecklenburg, who were being persecuted by the police; in 1863 it defended Matamoros, who was imprisoned in Spain for his Protestant faith (Mennonitische Blätter : 44); in 1876 it took the part of Russian Protestants; in 1879 it stood up for the rights of retired Hessian pastors; in 1879 in Basel Professor Christlieb protested openly against Great Britain's opium trade.
Interest in the efforts of the Alliance declined steadily. In 1902 the eleventh general conference was to meet in Hamburg. The invitation had been issued. For the local committee Pastor Hinrich van der Smissen of Altona was the secretary (Mennonitische Blätter : 45). The difficulties mentioned above interfered to some extent, but the chief obstacle was the opposition of non-English circles to the Boer War. Therefore the English committee postponed the conference to 1903 and held it in Florence. The last conference of the Alliance met in 1907 in London.
After 1903 the Alliance became more firmly knit in Germany. The five member groups (Berlin, Hamburg, Saxony, West Germany and South Germany) formed a committee of ten that met as occasion arose with the chairman. The chairman of the Hamburg group was Pastor Hinrich van der Smissen, who was also a member of the committee of ten.
This alliance is not to be confused with the many unions formed more recently on an alliance basis; these have no connection with the Evangelical Alliance or any of its branches. Of especial importance among these is the Blankenburg Alliance, which can be considered as a continuation of the Smith meetings of 1875. German Mennonites actively and constructively participated in all these alliance efforts. The original Evangelical Alliance later declined considerably in significance, particularly after the growth of the later ecumenical movements. The world-wide prayer week was one of its lasting contributions.
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Fleisch, Peter. Die moderne Gemeinschaftsbewegung in Deutschland. New York: Garland Publishing, 1985.
Friesen, Peter M. Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland (1789-1910) im Rahmen der mennonitischen Gesamtgeschichte. Halbstadt: Verlagsgesellschaft "Raduga", 1911.
Friesen, Peter M. The Mennonite Brotherhood in Russia (1789-1910), trans. J. B. Toews and others. Fresno, CA: Board of Christian Literature [M.B.], 1978, rev. ed. 1980.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 35.
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Neff, Christian. "Evangelical Alliance." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1955. Web. 13 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Evangelical_Alliance&oldid=90810.
Neff, Christian. (1955). Evangelical Alliance. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 13 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Evangelical_Alliance&oldid=90810.
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