What work is Church Army doing now?
Church Army exists to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Our focus is on the 7 out of 10 people who have little or no meaningful contact with church throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. We have more than 300 evangelists who reach out through words and actions to those who are marginalised by the rest of our society: this includes the elderly, the homeless, those living on housing estates in deprived areas and many more. We also have teams of evangelists working at our Centres of Mission which aim to create new types of Christian community. Church Army also trains evangelists and runs Xplore, a gap-year programme for young adults aged 18 to 25.
Recently, Church Army has opened its doors to new members after it voted to become a Mission Community in the Anglican Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This means that Church Army has changed from being a society of commissioned evangelists to being a movement. Anyone who has a passion for evangelism and is keen to identify themselves with the organisation can be part of Church Army.
Mark Russell, Church Army Chief Executive, said: “Church Army hopes to create a new community of people who are passionate about the Gospel and who want to share it with those on the margins of society. The launch of the Mission Community means that many other people will be able to join the organisation as members of a modern missionary movement. This will include people who are ordained, those who feel called to be evangelists in the wider church and Church Army’s existing volunteers and supporters. We hope that through this extended network of mission-minded people, communities will be transformed and evangelists properly resourced.”
How or why Church Army was formed?
Church Army was formed in 1882 by a young curate called Wilson Carlile who was based at St Mary Abbots Church in Kensington, London. During his time there, he became increasingly concerned that the Church was turning in on itself and was out of touch with ordinary people. As a result he set up Church Army to mobilise people to share their faith through words and action. He encouraged grooms, coachmen and other working people to witness to their faith in the open air and at packed indoor gatherings. As the work grew, a training college for Evangelists was established. The ministries that Wilson Carlile set up were varied and, at the time, pioneering. They included: mission caravans, outreach to those living in the slums, hostels, and prison work. Church Army was officially approved by the Church of England in 1885.
For more information and to watch films about our work, please visit www.churcharmy.org.uk
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has been Vice President of Church Army since 2006.