In Secular UK, Evangelical Alliance Experiences Record Growth

Leader explains why the movement is seeing its biggest membership bump in 30 years and its mission for the years ahead.

As CEO of the United Kingdom’s Evangelical Alliance (EA), Gavin Calver sometimes compares the organization to the polarizing British breakfast spread Marmite: You either love it or you hate it.

The EA hears plenty from its critics, taking hits for stances on issues like transgender identity, and is calling on Christians who love them from a distance to actually join.

“We’re asking, ‘Will you please stand with us as someone who loves Marmite, not dislikes it?’” Calver said. “In our culture, it makes it a little lighthearted, but it needs very little explaining. People get it quickly.”

More churches, organizations, and individuals are responding to the call, and after record growth in the past year year, the tally of dues-paying individual members recently topped 23,000. The total is a signal of the group’s influence to government officials and societal leaders, allowing the EA to represent evangelicals more effectively in the wider culture.

Many of the new individual members signed up when EA representatives spoke at member churches, so much of the recent growth “reflects the constituency we already have,” according to Calver. Still, the EA’s membership is becoming more ethnically diverse and trending younger, he said, with most of its growth happening “beyond the southeast of England where we were strongest to start with.”

Calver recently spoke to CT about his vision for the EA, why so many new members are signing up now, and how evangelicals in the UK are staying united despite their differences.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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