April 1: Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship

by Clifford Hodges Brewton

The Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship (PEF) was begun on April 1, 1958, when the Reverend William E. Hill, minister of the large Hopewell, Virginia, Presbyterian Church, resigned his twenty-ninth year pastorate to answer God’s call to full-time evangelism.

The new organization at once was recognized as unique. At the time of its formation, it was the only organization of its kind that existed primarily to serve the local church.

It was not to be an evangelistic association, centered as most are, in the personality and ministry of one evangelist, but rather a team of evangelists—specialists who assist churches in the work for God and the gospel. PEF was brought into existence to serve the local church in training and doing Biblical evangelism anywhere, at any time, in accordance with the needs of any group or organization.

In 1964 PEF was incorporated, and a year later, a second evangelist was added to the staff. By 1969, there were ten evangelists and PEF had a total budget of $183,930. As time went by, staff members were added t the growing team of specialists, and in 1970, one of PEF’s best years thus far and with an increased budget of $281,993, foreign evangelism was begun with the formation of the Executive Committee on Overseas Evangelism (ECOE), which during its existence channeled over $1 million into world missions.

Through ECOE and PEF, evangelistic crusades have been conducted in nineteen countries, including France, Brazil, Greece, Columbia, England, Guadeloupe, India, Ireland, Southern Ireland, Puerto Rico, Spain, Switzerland, Trinidad, Zaire and Uganda.

In India, a home for the elderly has been established, which is now run by a Methodist evangelist, and in addition to the churches started in the United States, a strong Baptist Church has been established by a PEF evangelist in Dublin, Ireland.

There is an international, interdenominational flavor about PEF. The goal is not to try to produce Presbyterians, but as Presbyterians, those who work with PEF minister and work on behalf of people in the name of Christ for the glory of God.

Perhaps the most outstanding achievement of the decade of the seventies was the role played by PEF in the establishment of a new Presbyterian denomination. After many years of sincere efforts to call a major Presbyterian denomination, the Presbyterian Church in the United States, to faithful allegiance to the Bible, many churches and ministers decided to form a new body.

Words to Live By:
It was just a year or so ago that the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship was renamed and became the Reformed Evangelistic Fellowship, with the name change intended to indicate that the organization is Reformed in its theology, but not tied to any specific denomination. The Rev. Rick Light has served as director of the organization since 1999. Parachurch organizations have proliferated in the 20th century, and it is undeniable that many, many of them have done a good work in the Lord’s kingdom. Alongside the work of the Church, we have an embarrassment of ministries to pray for, so much so that you can likely find a work specific to the burden of your heart. The main thing is to pray–pray for the Church and pray for the works that share your own heart’s concern, and support them as well, first the Church and as funds allow, these


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