Denomination Nation: The Beginnings of the Christian & Missionary Alliance

Albert Benjamin Simpson, founder of The Christian and Missionary Alliance was born December 15, 1843 in Bayview, Prince Edward Island, Canada. At an early age he felt the call of God on his life to preach and later experienced a dramatic conversion to faith in Jesus Christ. After discovering a line in Walter Marshall’s Gospel Mystery of Salvation, “The first good work you will ever perform is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Simpson committed his life to “Jesus Only”—the anthem that also ignited an unquenchable passion in his heart to reach the lost.

He went on to enroll at Knox College (Toronto) for theological training. After graduation in 1865, Simpson accepted a pastorate at Knox Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, Ontario, marrying Margaret Henry the same weekend.

In 1873, at age 30, Simpson left Canada to pastor the Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and later the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church in New York City (NYC). His desire to minister to the flood of immigrants pouring into NYC met with great opposition from the leadership of his church. He eventually resigned his prestigious pastorate and set out to establish the Gospel Tabernacle, a church in the heart of the city, where all—the poor, homeless, sick, and displaced—would be welcome.

Simpson’s ministry to New York’s immigrants caused him to wonder about the unreached masses throughout the world. It was then that he developed an insatiable burden for the worldwide evangelization of lost souls. Singlemindedly focused on this burden, Simpson began assembling like-minded people with a passion for taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He proceeded to hold evangelistic meetings on Sunday afternoons. These gatherings, which then grew to camp meetings and revivals in other locations along the East coast, were essentially the beginnings of The Christian and Missionary Alliance—a society fully devoted to experiencing the “deeper life” in Christ and completing the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Having also personally experienced a miraculous physical healing, Simpson would go on to coin the foundation of the Alliance’s doctrine—The Fourfold Gospel: Christ our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King.

Simpson was a prolific writer from the start of his ministry, having authored 101 books and countless hymns, periodicals, booklets, articles, and curriculums over his lifetime. His influence went on to move the hearts of missionaries, pastors, and people of all denominations towards spreading the gospel in all lands.

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