The Evangelical Free Church of America is an association of some 1,300 autonomous churches united by a mutual commitment to serve Jesus Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and obedience to the Word of God. The churches in this association are committed to cooperate with one another in ministry and fellowship as they seek to fulfill the Great Commission which Christ has entrusted to His Church. The growing ministry of the EFCA currently extends to some 45 countries of the world.
The term Evangelical refers to its commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel and to the authority of Scriptures as being inerrant in the original writings and the only safe and sufficient guide to faith and practice.
- The introduction and History sections of this article are adapted from EFCA Homepage and used with permission -- See Talk Page.
The Evangelical Free Church of America was formed in 1950 by the merger of two church bodies: the Swedish Evangelical Free Church and the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Free Church Association. Both groups had been birthed in the revival movements of the late nineteenth century.
The Swedish group had its formal beginnings in Boone, Iowa, at a conference held in October of 1884. In that same year, two Norwegian-Danish groups began to worship and fellowship together in Boston, Massachusetts and Tacoma, Washington. By 1912, both the Swedish Evangelical Free Church and the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Free Church Association had been formed.
Those two associations, representing 275 local congregations, were formally joined together as they gathered for a merger conference in June of 1950 at the Medicine Lake Conference Grounds near Minneapolis, Minnesota. The international and national offices of the EFCA have been located in Minneapolis since the merger took place.
Dr. E.A. Halleen, who had served for 28 years as the president of the Swedish association, was elected as the first president of the newly formed Evangelical Free Church of America. His one-year term crowned a brilliant ministry career as a pastor, teacher, evangelist and church leader.
In 1951, Dr. Arnold T. Olson was elected president. He had served as the president of the Norwegian-Danish association for six years, as chairman of the merger committee and as the first moderator of the EFCA. Under his leadership, The Evangelical Free Church of America broke the boundaries of its ethnic background and flowed into the mainstream of the evangelical. Dr. Olson served with distinction as the president of the EFCA for twenty-five years.
Dr. Thomas A. McDill became the third president of the EFCA in 1976. His pastoral and administrative gifts were used by God to significantly strengthen the church during an unsettled and challenging time in American history. The movement grew dramatically under his leadership both in numbers and in its spiritual influence.
Dr. Paul A. Cedar served as the fourth president of the EFCA from 1990 until 1996. Dr. Cedar brought a passion for prayer, spiritual dependence, and evangelism to his leadership role. In 1996, Dr. Cedar left the EFCA to become the first full-time president of Mission America, a national networking and evangelism ministry.
Dr. William J. Hamel became the fifth president in June of 1997 and serves currently in that role.