Church Army

Church Army

Church Army is an evangelistic Church of England organisation operating in many parts of the Anglican Communion.


Church Army was founded in England in 1882 by the Revd Wilson Carlile (afterwards prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral), who banded together in an orderly army of soldiers, officers, and a few working men and women, whom he and others trained to act as Church of England evangelists among the outcasts and criminals of the Westminster slums.

Previous experience had convinced Carlile that the moral condition of the lowest classes of the people called for new and aggressive action on the part of the Church, and that this work was most effectively done by lay people of the same class as those whom it was desired to touch. As the work grew, a training institution for evangelists was started in Oxford, but soon moved (1886) to London, where, in Bryanston Street near Marble Arch, the headquarters of the army was established.

In 1978, Church Army purchased Winchester House, a former missionary school (see Eltham College) in Blackheath, south-east London, to be refurbished as its new headquarters. It was officially opened by HM The Queen Mother on 12 June 1980.

Principles and practices

Today, the legacy of Wilson Carlile continues as Church Army evangelists work hard to make a difference in people’s lives; taking the gospel into the community and sharing in the things that matter to people. Church Army has over 300 evangelists devoted to a wide range of services in Anglican churches, projects and teams throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. Church Army’s focus is on reaching out and making the church effective by meeting people where they are; they start from here and discover ways of creating fresh and relevant expressions of Christian community.

Church Army always has been and continues to be at the cutting edge of mission and evangelism. Every year in September, Church Army celebrates Church Army Sunday ; this is the Sunday nearest 26 September (the anniversary of Wilson Carlile's death in 1942), the day on which Carlile and Church Army are celebrated in the revised Anglican Lectionary. On this day, Church Army encourages churches to reach beyond their walls: to "get out more" and engage with the local community through various activities – chocolate parties, car boot sales, community fun days and many more.

Similarly every December, the Church Army encourages the local community to get in the spirit of Christmas and invite Mary and Joseph for the night, through the Posada campaign. Posada is a Spanish word that means ‘inn’ and it is named after a very special Mexican celebration of Christmas where two young people dress as Mary and Joseph and travel from house to house in their village, requesting shelter in anticipation of the arrival of Jesus. This usually culminates with a community play and celebrations on Christmas Eve.

Mark Russell heads up the organisation; he was commissioned as the youngest ever Chief Executive of Church Army in November 2006 by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and is an appointed member of the Archbishops' Council.

Church Army International

Church Army International, established in 2006, is an association of eight independent Church Army societies around the world (in Africa, Australia, Barbados, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, United Kingdom & Ireland and the United States of America) working in over fifteen countries The purpose is to facilitate communication, cooperation, fellowship and shared vision between Church Army societies, and to promote the growth of Church Army ministry worldwide.

The Church Army International Council comprises one board member from each society and is currently chaired by Mr Roy Totten, Chairman of Church Army UK & Ireland. The International Secretary is Captain Philip Johanson, OBE.

The leader of each Society is a member of the Church Army International Leaders' Forum chaired by the International Secretary. The Forum has four telephone conferences each year and the leaders together with those responsible for training and board representatives meet together for a residential conference approximately every three years.


Each Church Army Society is responsible for the training of its staff. In some situations, students are paired with evangelists currently serving in the field; others attend residential schooling.

Notes and references

External links

Search another word or see church armyon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature