The group brings together those in our Member Churches who take responsibility for portfolios of mission and evangelism in their denomination. It also draws on the expertise and giftings from our Bodies in Association and other parachurch organisations in England.
The group meets together three times a year. The rhythm of the year involves a face-to-face meeting at our offices in Tavistock Square, a virtual meeting usually via Zoom, and a contextual meeting.
The current chair of the Group is Trey Hall who is the director of Evangelism and Growth for Methodist Church of Great Britain. Core members of the group come from the Church of England, The Methodist Church, The Sion community, The Catholic Bishops Conference, Elim, United Reformed Church, YFC, The Bible Society, CEA, HOPE, Rural Evangelism Network, the Evangelical Alliance, The Congregational Federation, RCCG, Church of God of Prophecy and The Oecumenical Patriarchate.
In October 2021 the group spent the day at the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales in Victoria. Hosted by Fr Jan Nowotnik, the new Director of Mission, the group explored Pope Francis’ passion for mission and the synodal process the church is embracing on.
The contextual meeting allows the group to be together to experience a particular place, tradition or programme.
In October 2022 we will be hosted by Elim Pentecostal Mission and Evangelism leaders at Regents College
Other Member Churches from CTE and appropriate Bodies in Association are very welcome to send representatives: for more information contact Principle Officer for Mission and Evangelism, Ben Aldous.
CTE provides an ecumenical space, akin to a ‘big tent’, within which churches across England can have conversations and develop strategies for mission.
We hosted our first Learning to be Missionary Disciples event in November 2020 (online). This brought together people representing over 20 of our Member Churches, alongside charities, mission agencies, youth organisations, theological institutions and ecumenical bodies of various kinds – national, regional, intermediate and local. The event offered the opportunity to explore how we might work closely together in reaching England with the good news of Jesus Christ, and proved to be a rich time of learning together.
A follow up Learning to be Missionary Disciples 2 event took place in November 2021 at The Hayes, Swanwick in Derbyshire bringing together 50 national church leaders.The conference drew together 13 of our national member churches, 16 Christian charities (a number of which are BiAs), 3 Theological colleges, 3 other unity movements, 3 intermediate bodies. We heard inspiring and challenging keynote addresses from Sanjee Perara, Harvey Kwiyani and Archbishop Nikitas.
On the Wednesday we heard shorter papers based around 4 key topics – Discipleship, Race and Justice; Discipleship and Climate Catastrophe; Discipleship and Evangelism; Discipleship and Formation. Some shared from local or regional perspectives, others bringing a global element to the conversation. Some shared stories of pain, exclusion and lament. Some hoped we could find better ways for implementing climate justice.
A working group from this conference around Discipleship and Formation is planned for 2022 and beyond. A third Learning to be Missionary Disciples is being explored for February 2023.
The Churches Group for Evangelisation traces its history almost back to inauguration of CTE in 1990. In its history it has birthed, amongst other initiatives the Christian Enquiry Agency which is the charity behind the website www.christianity.org.uk (you can also read more here).
The Churches Group for Evangelisation, or ‘GfE’ as it has been known, up until 2005. These notes are based on a history provided by the previous Secretary, Rev Roger Whitehead, who served the group from the foundation to 2005. The Group for Evangelisation was brought together by Revd Dr Donald English in 1988 when he was General Secretary of the Home Mission Division of the Methodist Church. The vision was for the national evangelism officers of the main denominations in England to meet around the table. Dr English invited Rev Roger Whitehead to co-ordinate the work for the Group.
Initially, the Group’s main function was to share information, but when the Decade of Evangelism started the Group began to plan together and then to work together. Today, the churches are in the position that no one major denomination would undertake new work without prior consultation with the others, and usually with active involvement of them too.
During the Decade of Evangelism the Group initiated or Co-ordinated major initiatives including:
- On Fire (Oasis Trust 1994)
- Open Book (Bible Society 1996)
- Churches Information on Mission – Church Life Profile (2001)
- Churches Millennium preparations (1994-2000)
- 20 from 10 (Assessment of the Decade)
- Rejesus.co.uk website (2002)
Roger says, ‘On occasion it seemed right for the Group to do work on behalf of the churches, but usually the work was to co-ordinate what the churches were wanting to do together’. Roger Whitehead had overseen and co-ordinated the major project ‘Evangelising Contemporary Spiritualities’ which gave rise to the major tour and book ‘Equipping your Church in a Spiritual Age’.
GfE members produced the book Equipping your Church in a Spiritual Age, which sold over 2000 copies, is now available here as a PDF.
Jim Currin of CTE was then secretary of the group from 2005-2019, followed by CTE’s Principle Officer for Mission and Evangelism, Ben Aldous from June 2019.