The International Congress on World Evangelism, Lausanne 1974

Stott at a meeting of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (Executive Committee) in Springfield, Missouri in September 1978.

Stott at a meeting of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (Executive Committee) in Springfield, Missourin September 1978.

A second batch of John Stott’s papers has now been made publicly accessible*, including those relating to the Lausanne movement. Correspondence, reports, memoranda, minutes and related material provide a rich resource on the history of Lausanne.

Papers documenting this important dialogue of global evangelicals and its beginnings in the International Congress on World Evangelism, Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974, reveal the increasing importance of Stott’s role on the international stage. He was, a year later, to formally withdraw from the day-to-day duties of a rector, becoming Rector Emeritus of All Souls, Langham Place in 1975. This allowed him time to fully engage with developments in the wider evangelical community.

The 1974 Congress, arranged by a committee headed by the well known American evangelical, Billy Graham, drew more than 2,300 evangelical leaders, from 150 countries. However, it was not just the scale of the congress featuring discussions and debates over theology, strategy and methods of evangelism, but the creation of the Lausanne Covenant that cemented the reputation of the gathering. Stott was the chairman of the drafting committee, known by some as the ‘chief architect’, and was given the formidable task of creating a statement which emphasized mutual goals and points of agreement from across the spectrum of evangelical opinion.

The success of the Congress and the resultant Covenant was consolidated by the creation of the Lausanne Continuation Committee, which met for the first time in Mexico in January 1975, and was later known as The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. At a meeting in Atlanta the following year the committee identified their intended functions as intercession, theology, strategy and communication, and set up a working group for each. Stott was himself a key member of the Lausanne Theology and Education Group (LTEG).

The second major congress, known as Lausanne ll (Manila, Philippines, July 1989) drew 3,000 participants from 170 countries and produced the Manila Manifesto, and is reflected in the material, alongside the many other Lausanne related conferences. These include the Consultation on World Evangelization (Pattaya 1980), and the Relationship between Evangelism and Social Responsibility (Grand Rapids, USA, 1982).

The series of evangelical conference papers in the Stott collection further includes papers relating to the World Council of Churches Assemblies in Uppsala (1970) and Nairobi (1976), as well as two National Evangelical Anglican Congresses in Nottingham (1977) and Caister, Norfolk (1988). The variety of conferences covered not only reveals trends and developments in evangelism, both domestic and global, but also Stott’s vital role in contributing to and shaping key discussions.

To view descriptions of the newly released documents please  go to our Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue and type STOTT/4/2 in the ‘Order no.’ box on the search page.

* Researchers based in the USA who are unable to access the original papers relating to Lausanne at Lambeth Palace Library also have the opportunity to refer to copies held at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, Illinois – collection 590 (http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/GUIDES/590.htm).

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