What follows traces the historical development of EFCC but, if you want a quick picture of today’s priorities, you first need to read this article by our Ministry Director, Tom Brand.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches is a group of over 100 evangelical churches in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The EFCC was formed in 1967 to unite gospel centred evangelical and congregational churches together.

We are all primarily evangelical – we believe that the Bible is the inspired and infallible word of the living God; and we preach Christ, who is God the Son incarnate, crucified, buried, and risen for the salvation of sinners. See our Basis of Faith

We are also largely, (but not exclusively) congregational – we emphasise the independence of the local church but the importance of fellowship with other gospel centred churches; and we uphold, or are sympathetic to, Reformed covenantal views on baptism.

The Beginnings

With the ending of the Second World War, two Congregational ministers, Harland Brine and Gilbert Kirby, concerned at the spiritual decline of their denomination, felt led of God to begin a Congregational Evangelical Revival Fellowship (CERF). This Association, formed in 1947, was open to individual members of Congregational Churches and sought to witness to evangelical truth and to the need for Holy Spirit Revival in the Church.

A disregard of Scriptural authority had been evident for many years in the denomination and this was clearly shown in 1958 when the Congregational Union of England and Wales (CUEW) adopted a new Constitution and altered one of its Objects. Instead of ‘to promote New Testament principles of Church fellowship and organisation’ there was substituted the much vaguer ‘to promote principles of Church fellowship and organisation that are consonant with the Gospel’. At the same time a growing concern was being felt about the way in which the CUEW was both consolidating and centralizing its power. In 1961, the Union published proposals for ‘Covenant and Oversight’ in the setting up of the Congregational Church in England and Wales. Three minister-members of the CERF, Gordon Booth, Edward Guest and David Marshall, were concerned at the prospect of oversight from a non-Scriptural organisation, and wrote to all brother ministers in the Fellowship inviting them to sign an Appeal to the Churches. Twenty seven ministers responded and the Appeal was sent out, calling upon Congregational Churches to stand firm on scriptural principles.

With the setting up of the ‘covenant body’, it became evident that whole Churches were concerned to maintain an evangelical witness and, lest these churches be left in isolation, the CERF Committee called a meeting of representatives of the Churches to wait on the Lord concerning the future. This resulted in the setting up of an Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches (EFCC). In April 1967 joint meetings were held in Manchester and London and a statement of evangelical doctrines was agreed. Later, a simple Constitution, necessary for legal and practical purposes, was approved.

Going On

When EFCC was formed all the churches involved were continuing Congregational Churches. Since 1967 a small number of Independent churches, who share the same ethos and goals, have also joined with them. The churches within EFCC are evangelical and desire to have fellowship in Christ with all who love the Lord, honour His Word, and preach the one true Gospel. They have formed the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches to provide a means of communication and an expression of Christian concern for one another. They have been shown again and again that ‘the Lord will provide’. Prayers have been graciously answered, financial needs met, and ministers and Churches led to each other. The Bible has been proved anew in experience to be the inspired Word of God, and the Gospel proved to be the ‘power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes’.

When the Fellowship was formed, concern was expressed lest it become hardened into a self-perpetuating denomination and thus miss any call that the Lord might make for a wider grouping of Bible-believing Christians from all denominational backgrounds. Links in the Gospel have been established with evangelical Congregationalists in different parts of the world. The Fellowship is also in membership with Affinity. This is a grouping of Churches, one in the fundamental doctrines of the faith and in a desire to discover and experience that true ecumenicity which the Scriptures certainly teach.

Over the years the question has been raised as to whether EFCC should continue as a body but a desire to stand for evangelical truth, to relate to other evangelicals within the Congregational tradition and to uphold the principles of Biblical Congregationalism has meant that there has always been a strong sense that as a fellowship we would expect to be part of the evangelical scene for years to come.