DOVER, New York — The World Evangelical Alliance inaugurated its new eight-building WEA Evangelical Center located about an hour away from New York City in Dutchess County with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, worship service and inauguration dinner Friday evening.
The new Evangelical Center will serve as the center for WEA to serve its 600 million evangelical constituents, joining the Vatican in Rome and the Ecumenical Center in Geneva as one of three main centers for Christianity in the world.
The new Evangelical Center, which is located on the 70-plus-building campus of Olivet University about 70 miles north of New York City, replaces WEA's former Evangelical Center that opened in Binghamton, New York in 2010. The new facility will include a chapel, residential halls, office buildings, classrooms, auditoriums and a cafeteria.
WEA will share the facilities with the university and will be able to provide housing to international religious leaders who will come to take part in WEA's one-year modular training program or its months-long fellowship program that will prepare them to spread the word of God and strengthen or create evangelical alliances in their own countries.
"The center stands here as a testimony to the goodness of God. This center stands here as a testimony that when we look up to God, God is the one who gives us resources," WEA General Secretary Bishop Efraim Tendero said during his ceremony remarks. "This center will be a place where we can see leaders being equipped and leaders being able to continue to have the spiritual multiplication, then those leaders equipping other leaders and the spiritual multiplication goes on until we see that the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ."
After the ribbons were cut and the signs were unveiled, Tendero explained in a sermon during the inaugural worship service that the new center brings WEA one step closer to its goal of creating an evangelical national alliance in every nation in the world. Currently, there are national evangelical alliances in 129 nations across the world.
Tendero told The Christian Post after his sermon that the new Evangelical Center represents an enticing place for aspiring international religious leaders to come to be trained, as it is in close proximity to New York City and there is also a train station within walking distance of the campus.
Tendero detailed how many emerging leaders from across the world will come to take part in WEA's one-year modular training program. In the program, the leaders will live and train on the campus for a short stint of one to three weeks and then return to their home countries to complete online training. At the end of the program, they will return to the campus to complete their testing.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by a number of county and municipal government officials, who said they were overjoyed to have the WEA open its new center in their community.
"The community here wanted light and what better than the hopeful light that is spread by the WEA across the globe," Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro told CP. "As Assemblyman [Kieren] Lalor said, in an increasing secular world, this is an opportunity for us to embrace the message of Jesus Christ and the message of Jesus Christ could be just the right investment that the communities are waiting for."
Dover Supervisor Linda French said that the opening of the WEA Evangelical Center was the answer to her prayers and provides Dover with a new beginning.
"Like everyone else, I prayed very hard for this property to be developed and, somehow, I think my prayers were answered. This is a beginning for Dover — another beginning," French proclaimed. "These are beautiful people to work with. I am so happy that they are in our town and I hope that they will continue and we will work together in this beautiful project and it will come true."
Tom Correll, the global church representative for the National Association of Evangelicals, said at the ceremony that WEA's mission seeks to provide godly leadership for a world that severely needs it.
"We live in a world that is desperately looking for leadership. Tragically, the leaders that we are following are themselves, in most cases, not committed to Christ as King and unwilling to accept the authority of the Scripture," Correll said. "Pray that God will bring forth shepherds. We congratulate WEA for their commitment to providing godly leadership and we seek and expect to work closely with you. Together, we might empower leaders for a world that desperately needs it."
WEA's former Secretary General Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, who is now an advisory board chairman for CP's umbrella company Christian Media Corporation, said in an interview that the vision of having a legitimate gathering place for religious leaders to come to share ideas and share how God is working miracles in their corners of the world came together during his last 18 months at WEA. Tunnicliffe added that he is glad to see this vision finally come to fruition.
"This is really a table where people gather not just to learn but to learn from each other," Tunnicliffe said. "God is at work in different parts of the world and telling those stories of transformation and hope and how they are bringing about the impact of the gospel in their context and to transfer the concepts between them. This is a place that gives us a place to gather."
Olivet University President Dr. Tracy Davis said that the university envisions the campus, which was purchased by the school in 2013 and will begin hosting classes in 2016, housing more than just the school and the Evangelical Center. Davis told CP that the university plans to also offer spots on campus to research and development organizations who can help achieve the shared goal of the Great Commission.
"We envisioned this place as a place of synergy. Our global partnership means that we are collaborating on issues that we both feel are very important for advancing our mission of the Great Commission through education for Olivet University and through partners of collaboration with folks at World Evangelical Alliance," Davis said. "We just think that this is a place that can be a home for that. We want it to be a stronghold where this synergy can expand and have a global impact."