The Salvation Army was represented at the biennial meetings of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization held in Toronto in March 1998 by Lt. Colonel Earl Robinson, Secretary for International External Relations at International Headquarters.
At these meetings Lt. Colonel Robinson was nominated by the International Committee to be a member of the Lausanne Executive Committee, and nomination was accepted by the newly elected Executive Chair, Dr. Paul Cedar, presently the Director of ‘Mission America’ which is the United States National Lausanne Committee.
International Headquarters has also agreed to accept responsibility for the prayer letter of the Lausanne Movement. General Paul A. Rader has indicated that these new relationships with Lausanne are ‘important for The Salvation Army.’
In the beginning
The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization had its beginnings in 1974 when Billy Graham called Christian leaders to attend an International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland. On that occasion, 2700 participants from 150 nations voiced their praise to God for his salvation and rejoiced in the evangelical fellowship they discovered in obedience to the Great Commission. That congress adopted what became known as the ‘Lausanne Covenant,’ a theological consensus on the basis and nature of evangelization.
An important further development of the Lausanne Covenant occurred at Lausanne II, held in 1989, when more than 3,000 delegates from 170 countries met in Manila, the Philippines, with the theme, ‘Calling the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.’
General Eva Burrows was one of the plenary speakers at that conference and The Salvation Army endorsed the Manila Manifesto as part of its Vision 2000 direction for the decade of the 90s.
Both Lausanne I and Lausanne II were significant for the ‘whole gospel’ ministries in which The Salvation Army has been involved since its inception. Those two consultations marked a turning point in the perception of evangelicals concerning social responsibility, so that now the majority of the evangelical community sees ministries of social service and social action as integral to the full proclamation of the gospel.
With those emphases, along with the focus on fulfilling the great commission of our Lord, it follows naturally that in a number of Salvation Army territories we are represented on national and regional committees of Lausanne.
The new Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine, Salvation Story, underlines the Salvation Army’s affinity with the Lausanne Movement by including the Lausanne Covenant amongst its appendices.
An accompanying comment in the handbook suggests that the Covenant ‘has the potential of providing the basis for a credal statement arising from evangelicals as they seek unitedly to meet the increasingly complex challenge of each age to communicate the Salvation Story and to win the world for Christ.’