Interview: Geoff Tunnicliffe, CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance

Geoff Tunnicliffe, the director of global initiatives in the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, was elected as the Chief Executive Officer and International Coordinator of the World Evangelical Alliance, during an international gathering in Florida early May.

Tunnicliffe, who served as an interim international coordinator in the weeks following the early resignation of the WEA’s past General Secretary, will now oversee the activities of the vast alliance.

The following is excerpts from a May 19 interview with Tunnicliffe.

What is your new role at the WEA?

I’ve been appointed as the new international Chief Executive Officer and International Coordinator. I will be providing leadership for the international service center which will serve the broad-based needs of our affiliates and associates around the world. The center will also provide a framework for joint activity between the groups and bring a leading voice for evangelicals around global issues.

We found that the WEA needs to build and expand the voice of the evangelical community. We will be communicating with the United Nations and other world bodies as well as other media to build on this voice.

What does the CEO do? Are you the first CEO of the Alliance?

CEO is really just a new language for the Secretary General, so the role is not really new. The International Coordinator is someone who builds the coordination within the community as a team. We are building a team of spokespeople around the world – in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America. Within our community we have an army of articulate spokespeople and we are trying to bring experts on the issues to become our voice. The church is growing in the Southern hemisphere and we need to make sure the voice is broadened so the global network can be more fully represented.

Can you tell us more about this communication army?

We are trying to create a global team working together to represent the WEA. We are beginning to build a team that will represent the Alliance both geographically and by ministry.

What were some of the goals that were set during the international meeting?

Developing communications was the first goal. We have a complex organization with over 200 different entities related to the WEA, so we’re working on building effective communications internally as well as externally. We worked to provide a network and a web of relationships.

For example, we had the leader of an alliance in Sierra Leone, and he talked about how his group was able to collect funds after the tsunami and send it to Sri Lanka. What I’m getting at is that help does not always have to come from North America – with effective linkages we are building an effective body of Christ.

What’s the next step for the Alliance in achieving those goals?

The next step for the Alliance is to put together a task force and build a leadership team that will strengthen our voice and mechanism for partnership. This is what we will be doing particularly in the next 12 months.

How will those new goals be supported financially?

We’re seeing more of our national alliances come on board, and we’ve cut our costs significantly by moving our services to Canada and being housed in the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. But we’ve also seen new people come on board from foundations and local churches who support the voice of the evangelical alliance. There are many strings of income and we’re working out a model, but overall we are very encouraged.

It is my belief that Christians around the world want strong representation and are willing to support our group. I want Christians to know that they are being represented on key conversations, whether it be religious freedom, the growing pressure on the Christian churches around the world, proselytism and persecution, global poverty and AIDS. I want the WEA to be on the table on these kinds of issues.

How much will the WEA be working with other organizations ecumenically?

We’re already in conversation with other bodies on different issues, and we work together where we find alignment. That’s the model for the EFC. For example, when the EFC was dealing with some moral issues in Canada, we found strong alliances with the conference of Catholic bishops in regards to the culture of life. If we can, we will find key points of connection to build upon.