The Founding Years

AboutHistory › The Founding Years

1887-1919

The Christian and Missionary Alliance grew out of the vision of Rev. Albert Benjamin Simpson, a Presbyterian pastor from Canada, who ministered in Hamilton, Ontario, Louisville, Kentucky, and New York City.

Dock Workers in New York CityHe resigned his pastorate from a prestigious Presbyterian Church because the church leadership did not want to receive immigrants whom he had evangelized into their fellowship. He launched out in faith to establish a church in New York City where all people would be welcome.

Simpson believed that Christ was not only his Savior, but also his Sanctifier, through a dramatic spiritual encounter that changed the direction of his life. He also experienced Christ as his Healer, after struggling many years with poor health. This was also a time when the Church was rediscovering the truth about Christ’s return as our Coming King, and this became the framework of Alliance doctrine, known as the Fourfold Gospel: Christ our Savior, Christ our Sanctifier, Christ our Healer, and Christ our Coming King.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance was formed as a missionary society, not a denomination. The early congregations of the C&MA were called “branches,” which were formed to promote the missionary endeavor and the “deeper life” (Christ our Sanctifier). The “branches” usually met on Sunday afternoons, so that people could attend their denominational church’s worship service on Sunday morning. People who attended these “branches” came from most of the major denominations. In time, as mainline denominations became increasingly liberal in their doctrine, these “branches” began to operate like churches and were organized as such.

The “branches” of the C&MA were formed through missionary conventions held in most major U. S. cities and in Canada. These missionary conventions featured reports from missionaries on furlough as well as teaching on the deeper life. Summer camp meetings also were instrumental in carrying the Alliance message.

Missionary Training Institute - Prayer BandSimpson had a passion for training young people to serve as missionaries. He established the first Bible institute in the United States, equipping people with some basic tools for ministry and empowering them for service. His Missionary Training Institute is now Nyack College.

In order to promote the missionary endeavor, Simpson published the first illustrated magazine in the United States that focused on missions, The Gospel in All Lands. Later he began another magazine, The Alliance Weekly, which is now called Alliance Life.

The first mission fields of the C&MA were in the Belgian Congo in Africa, China, India, and the Philippines in Asia. Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela in South America also were on Simpson’s radar for missions.

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