By Richard Condie, President of EFAC VIC.
Hebrews 13:7 says: Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
Today we pay tribute to John Stott, from just four different aspects of his influence on the Church. EFAC, Langham, Lausanne and All Souls. There are many more stories to be told than these, and we hope that this afternoon you will share them with each other after the service. But our hope and prayer,like the writer to the Hebrews encourages, is that remembering this great leader who spoke the word of God to us, we would consider the outcome of his way of life, and we might imitate his faith.
50 years ago this year, John Stott responded to a request from some of his evangelical colleagues in the UK, to form and lead a national body, to encourage and promote evangelical ministry within the Anglican church. Evangelicals in post war Britain were in a minority, and had been meeting in small clusters for a number of years, to study the scriptures and encourage one another in bible based ministry and evangelism. A more focussed arrangement gave them the opportunity to think about how to bring change in their denomination and strengthen Evangelical ministry. The Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion(EFAC) was formed in 1961.
At the start, John Stott was still quite young as the leader, as were the other members, and the movement gave a voice to younger Anglicans for their work of reform. The fellowship brought two strands together very effectively – it was clearly Anglican and clearly evangelical. John’s thinkingand writings, enjoyed by so many evangelical Christians of all denominations, were taken up and applied specifically to the Anglican context. This strengthened the Evangelical wing of the Anglican church no end.Evangelicals with their commitment to: the Bible and its authority, the centrality of the atoning work of the cross, the need for conversion to Christ, and activism, has continued to grow in strength as an authentic and significant part of the Anglican Communion.
This wider communion focus is a particular gift that John Stott gave to EFAC. His international stature, gave EFAC the opportunity to equip evangelicals world-wide to work for the strengthening of their denomination for its witness in the world. In fact, in parts of Africa today, EFAC remains the most prominent network for encouraging the witness of the church.
Australia has been the beneficiary of this international work. After his visits here during the lead up to the Billy Graham crusades, Australian evangelicals became connected to the wider movement within the communion. By the 1970’s there were five evangelical fellowship groups across Australia, coming under the EFAC banner in 1981. EFAC Australia held two National Congresses 1971, and 1981 and plans a third in 2012.
Here in Victoria, the strongest EFAC Branch in the country has in recent years been a key provider of evangelical thinking, fellowship and encouragement, especially through the ministry of our two Training Officers, Steve Abbot and Richard Trist. It remains committed to fostering Christ centred Bible based ministry within the Anglican Churches of Victoria and Tasmania.
This movement, was begun by a man with an international vision for strengthening the gospel, and biblical witness throughout our denomination. As we consider his life, we give thanks to God and pray that He would raise up another generation of leaders like John Stott to keep Evangelical Anglicans growing and contributing to the Anglican Church for many years to come.
We give thanks to God for John Stott founder of EFAC.