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Collection 598 Records of Wheaton '83 Conference

Identifier: CN 598

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, papers, case studies, minutes, participant evaluations, and other documents relating to the planning, holding and follow-up of Wheaton '83, an international, evangelical conference exploring the nature and mission of the global church. The meeting was sponsored by the World Evangelical Fellowship and other organizations. It consisted of three simultaneous consultations which dealt with the local church, evangelism across frontiers, and Christian response to human need.


  • Created: 1975-1984, undated

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research, and there are no access restrictions on the materials.

Historical Information

Conference name: Wheaton ‘83 - An International Evangelical Conference on the Nature and Mission of the Church

Conference venue: Billy Graham Center Building (500 E. College) Wheaton College campus, Wheaton, Illinois, USA

Conference dates: June 20-July 1, 1983

Conference theme: I Will Build My Church: The Nature and Mission of the Church

Conference background: The meeting was convened by the World Evangelical Fellowship (after being originally proposed by Bruce Nicholls, executive secretary of the WEF Theological Commission), in cooperation with about forty other Christian groups, including the Billy Graham Center, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, World Vision International, and Partnership in Mission.

The conference was, in fact, three different consultations going on simultaneously. These consultations were:

• The Mission of the Church in its Local Setting - dealt with the needs of local congregations

• The Church in New Frontiers for Missions - dealt with whether Christians should present the gospel across cultures in the modern world

• The Church in Response to Human Need - dealt with the ways that both evangelism and social concern are part of the biblical mission of the Church

Participants were selected by the executive committee and conference staff to reflect the diversity in the Evangelical Protestantism worldwide.

Conference purpose: “The purposes are outlined in the following goals:

1. To gain a Biblical understanding of the nature and mission of the church.

2. To bring integration between various aspects of the church.

3. To renew our obedience and commitment to the church’s ministry and mission.”

Attendance figures: Approximately 320 participants, about half of which came from Africa, Asia and Latin America. They represented fifty-nine countries. There were also another fifty staff members and reporters.

Conference Leaders

Chairman: William Shoemaker, Billy Graham Center

Vice-Chairman: David Howard, World Evangelical Fellowship

Coordinator: Bruce Nicholls, Executive Secretary, Theological Commission, World Evangelical Fellowship

Chairman, Consultation I: Pablo Perez, Casa Linda Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas

Chairman, Consultation II: Patrick Sookhdeo, In Contact Ministries

Chairman, Consultation III: Arthur Beals, World Concern

Coordinator, Consultation III: Tom Sine, World Concern

Other conference staff: John Thompson, special assistant; Kathy Boyadgis, special assistant Executive Committee Tokunboh Adeyemo, Ulrich Bertz, David Howard, Gladys Jasper, Gottfried Osei-Mensah, Pablo Perez, John Richards, Vinay Samuel, William Shoemaker, Ronald Sider, Patrick Sookhdeo, Teo van der Weele, Thomas Wang, Theodore Williams, Robert Youngblood

Program Committee: Bruce Nichols, Pablo Perez, Vinay Samuel, William Shoemaker, Patrick Sookhdeo

Financial support: Conference was run on a relatively modest level. Some contributions in labor and funds came WEF and the Billy Graham Center (both organizations also contributed staff). There also were fund raising efforts to have churches and Christian organizations act as sponsors. Participants also paid registration fees, $500 for individuals from Western countries, $50 for people from non-Western countries. The conference did have a deficit that various people and organizations helped to cover afterwards.

Post-conference resources: A letter summarizing the issues discussed, called Letter to the Churches, was prepared. It included statements from each of the three consultations. Papers from the conference were also circulated. Other projects and a newsletter were carried on by a Seattle office and Christian organizations in different parts of the world which served as regional center. The Seattle office terminated in December 1984.

Other significant information

During the first two days of the conference members of each of the three consultations debated the discussion papers. The third day they each began discussion of case studies prepared for each of the three to describe the real life approaches various Christian organizations were taking to needs and opportunities. The fourth day was given to workshops and discussion groups based on the experiences of the previous three days. Then the members of all three groups spent a day together sharing and learning what the other consultations had been doing. Then the members of the three consultations were mixed together to do a common case study. Finally the consultations moved on to the question of how to integrate what they learned at the conference with their individual ministries.


8.32 Cubic Feet (21 boxes (20 DC, 1 Card File), Audio Tapes, Oversize Materials, Photographs )

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[Note: In the Arrangment section, the notation “folder 2-5" means “Box 2, Folder 5"]

Subseries: A. William Shoemaker’s files

Arrangement: Alphabetical

Date Range: 1982-1983

Volume: .8 cubic feet

Boxes: 1-2

Geographic coverage: United States, India

Type of documents: Letters, reports, memos

Correspondents: Kathy Boyadgis, Ed Dayton, Bruce Nicholls, John Thompson

Subjects: Planning of the Wheaton ‘83 conference, status and leaders of Evangelical Protestantism around the world

Notes: Shoemaker was the chairman of the conference and one of the chief planners and facilitators in terms of program. The records in this section reflect his participation and also the attempts of the executive committee and staff to develop a workable methodology and a participant list that would reflect include a true world wide cross section of current Evangelical thought and practice.


Subseries: B. Conference Preparation Files

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

Date Range: 1978-1983

Volume: 1.6825 cubic feet

Boxes: 3-7

Geographic coverage: United States, with some material from other parts of the world

Type of documents: Correspondence, memos, budgets, lists, audio tapes of meetings.

Correspondents: Kathy Boyadgis, Edward Dayton, John Thompson, William Shoemaker, Tom Sine

Subjects: Documents are concerned largely with the putting together of the program of the conference, the methodology, the physical arrangements.

Notes: These files are by and large those of John Thompson, Shoemaker’s chief assistant. They cover events from the early planning stages up to the actual beginning of the conference. Included are the minutes of several meetings of the executive committee. Much of the material in this and other sections is concerned with adequate case studies for the purposes of the three consultations and the fitness of the case study method to work of the conference.

Exceptional items: Tapes T1 through T19 contain tapes of various executive committee meetings, consultations and staff meetings on different aspects of the conference and its three tracks. They provide an informal and human picture of the concerns of the conference planners and the personalities involved and fill in many information gaps from the written record.

Folder 3-6 contains the booklet sent out to the organizations that were being asked to sponsor the conference. It described the purpose and goals of the three consultations

Folder 3-7 contains minutes and other documents from the November 1981 planning session, convened by WEF at the Billy Graham Center, that set the basic goals and methods of the conference. Folder 6-3 contains a basic reference book on the conference, apparently used by staff. It includes lists of staff and committee members, minutes of planning meetings, news releases, etc. Folder 6-6 contains regular updates on the plans for the consultation on the Christian Response to Human Need. Box 7 consists of a card file with the names and addresses of individuals, churches and organizations that were sponsors or potential sponsors of the conference financially or otherwise, as well as members of the executive committee and others involved in the planning of the meeting.


Subseries: C. Participant files

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

Date Range: 1981-1983

Volume: 1.4 cubic feet

Boxes: 8-10

Geographic coverage: World wide

Type of documents: Questionnaires, lists, correspondence

Correspondents: Arthur Beals, Kathy Boyadgis, Wayne Bragg, Edward Dayton, Bruce Nicholls, Tom Sine. Peter Stam, John Thompson

Subjects: Life and ministry summaries for a global cross section of Evangelical leaders

Notes: These files include the staff files on the selection of participants for the conference and the assigning of them to one of the three different tracks. There is a great deal of biographical data, especially from questionnaires filled out by the participants themselves, as well statistic on staff efforts to get a balanced representation geographically.


Subseries: D. Consultation III Files

Arrangement: Correspondence of members of the steering committee and staff is in a group, arranged alphabetically by individual’s names, followed by a group of files relating to the case studies, arranged alphabetically by title

Date Range: 1975-1983

Volume: 1 cubic foot

Boxes: 11-14

Geographic coverage: World wide, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Papaya New Guinea, Sudan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States

Type of documents: Reports, correspondence papers, clippings, address lists, questionnaires, annual reports,

Correspondents: Neville P. Anderson, Art Beals, Kathy Boyadgis, Wayne Bragg, Dave Chambers, Wade Coggins, Edward Dayton, Patricia Harrison, Siman Ibrahim, Israel Katoke, Andrew Kirk, Ron Mathews, Bruce Nichols, Rene Padilla, Gustavo Parajon, Dean Rogers, Vinay Samuel, Michael Schluter, William Shoemaker, Ronald Sider, Tom Sine, Patrick Sookhdeo, John Thompson, Jun Vencer

Subjects: Planning and purpose of the conference, fund-raising, the relation between Christian witness and the Church’s responsibility for justice and mercy in the contemporary world, documents on the experience of various Christian churches and organizations on meeting spiritual and social needs in different countries and regions, impact of militarism upon development

Notes: Consultation III was perhaps the most active of the three and had the most detailed plans for continuation after the consultation. These files reflect the work of the consultation’s office in the state of Washington and its coordination with the Wheaton office of the congress.

Exceptional items: Among the organizations and churches for which there are reports or case studies are Christoffel Blindemission, Christian nationals Evangelism Commission, Christian Hope Indian Eskimo Fellowship (CHIEF), Committee for Justice and Liberty, Grace Ministries, Haiti Agriculture Mission, Harvest, International Missionary Advance, International Needs-India, John Deere and Company, Lutheran Evangelical Relief, Mennonite Central Committee, National Association of Evangelicals of Ghana, Operation L.O.R.D., Prison Fellowship, Reformed Evangelical Synod, Rural Development Consultancy for Christian Churches in Africa (RURCON), Tear Fund, Unitas of Jamaica, United Church (Papua New Guinea), We Care Community Services, World Evangelical Fellowship, World Relief, World Vision,


Subseries: E. Conference files

Arrangement: Alphabetical by title

Date Range: 1983

Volume: .8 cubic feet

Boxes: 14-16

Geographic coverage: Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Germany, India, Kenya, Korea, Nigeria, United Kingdom, United States, Zambia

Type of documents: handouts, lists, news releases, participant evaluation forms, participant notebooks, prayer calendar, programs, publications, questionnaires, registration forms, reports,

Subjects: The organization and daily activities of the Wheaton ‘83 and its final reports

Notes: These files are concerned with the actual running of the conference and the immediate aftermath. They describe the physical arrangements, the registration process, the evaluation of the meeting by the participants, the final news release, and the final or draft reports of the three consultations that made up the conference.

Exceptional items: The participants notebook in folder 15-3 contains the best material for the understanding of the purpose and method of the conference. The views of individual participants can be found in the evaluation forms in folders 15-4 through 15-8. The reports of the three consultations are in folders 14-20 through 14-22. The main document of the conference, “Letter to the Churches,’ can be found in folder 14-25. Folder 15-1 contains reports, brochures, newsletters and other publications from Evangelical organizations around the world. They provide a good snapshot of Evangelical evangelism and social ministry in 1983,


Subseries: F. Papers and Publications

Arrangement: Files are arranged by type of material, then alphabetically by author’s name

Date Range: 1983

Volume: .8 cubic feet

Boxes: 16-18

Geographic coverage: Argentina, Brazil, China, England, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia (Java), Kenya, Korea, Nicaragua, Nepal, Niger, Philippines, United States

Type of documents: Copies of papers given at the conference, including in some cases early drafts of the papers

Subjects: history of the Evangelical meetings that preceded Wheaton ‘83, Christian social responsibility; development, social transformation and the gospel; contemporary evangelism; the situation of particular churches in different parts of the world; persecution of Christians; the place of the local congregation in the work of the church; methods of presenting the Gospel across physical, cultural, and other barriers; the impact of technology on Christian witness;

Notes: This series contains the paper copies of presentations made at the conference, including a historical study of the precedences to Wheaton ‘83, a workbook for developing an evangelism strategy for a particular group of people, Bible studies on the church in different situations described in the New Testament, and the case studies and papers presented at the three consultations. With the papers for Consultation I, evaluations or responses to a particular paper are in the same folder as the paper.


Subseries: G. Follow-on Files

Arrangement: Alphabetical by title

Date Range: 1982-1984

Volume: 1.4 cubic feet

Boxes: 18-21

Geographic coverage: Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany, India, Kenya, Netherlands, Philippines, United Kingdom, United States among other countries

Type of documents: Budgets, correspondence, evaluations of the conference, financial statements, minutes of meetings, newsletters, questionnaire, transcripts,

Correspondents: Kathy Boyadgis, Brenda Buchweitz, Ed Dayton, Siman Ibrahim, Israel Katoke, M. R. Matthews, Bob Moffitt, Rene Padilla, Vinay Samuel, Tom Sine Chris Sugden, John Thompson, William Shoemaker

Subjects: Evaluation of the conference and distribution of its publications, Evangelical Protestantism’s efforts for community development and humanitarian relief

Notes: The files in this series deal with the work of the steering committee that continued on after the conference to distribute its publications and otherwise continue its work. Besides many evaluations of the congress, the files contain information on fund-raising for the committee, plans to develop a curriculum on the teaching of social ethics and social development, and reports on related activities in various parts of the world.

Exceptional items: Folders 18-26 and 21-14 contains plans for curriculums in social ethics and social development. Folder 19-5 contains many pages of transcripts of interviews with people like Edward Dayton, Arthur Glasser, Bruce Nichols, Vinay Samuel, Bill Shoemaker, Tom Sine, Patrick Sookhdeo, Theodore Srinivasagam, and other participants in which they talk about their experiences at the conference and their expectations. (See also folder 20-5). Folder 20-2 contains minutes of the steering committee of the Followon work, describing some of the projects that grew out of the conference. The progress reports of the steering committee are in folder 21-6.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Archives of the Billy Graham Center by Wheaton and Seattle offices of the Wheaton ‘83 Conference in 1983-1985. The bulk of the files dealing solely with housekeeping and arrangements were not kept because of their low research value. The archivist retained core files dealing with program, participants, organization, evaluation and the aftermath of the meeting.

Accession: 83-92, 84-121, 84-153, 85-9, 96-26

November 6, 2004

Bob Shuster

J. Aernie

List of Papers and Case Studies From the Conference

Box 18, folder 11: Case Histories

Box 17, folder 19: Consultation I Papers

Box 17, folder 12: Diagnostic Questionnaire

Box 17, folder 33: Missions and Churches Today: Volume One

Box 17, folder 34: Missions and Churches Today: Volume Two

Box 18, folder 3: The Role of Development in New Frontier Ministries

Box 18, folder 4: Training for New Frontiers: Case histories

Box 17, folder 5: Voluntarily Submitted Case Studies and Case Histories

Box 18, folder 9: Whom Shall I Baptize?

Box 16, folder 14: The Church and its Social Responsibility by Adeyemo, Tokunboh

Box 17, folder 1: Church Cared for by Itinerant Pastors: Evangelism in Turkana by Anderson, Earl

Box 17, folder 2: Non-institutional Churches: Electronic Church by Armstrong, Ben

Box 17, folder 3: Churches in Middle Class Suburbia: First Baptist, Sao Paulo by Azevedo, I. de

Box 17, folder 26: The Renewal of the Church - The New Community of Witness and Service by Benson, G.P.

Box 17, folder 27: Evangelism and Social Transformation by Bosch, David

Box 18, folder 10: Beyond Development by Bragg, Wayne G.

Box 17, folder 4: The Identity of the Local Church by Bush, Luis

Box 17, folder 6: Church in Middle Class Suburbia: Secrets of Growth at Chung Hyean Church by Chang-In, Kim

Box 17, folder 7: The Witness of the Suffering Church by Chao, Jonathan

Box 17, folder 14: Structuring of the Local Church Evangelism by Chik Han, Kyung

Box 17, folder 28: Appropriate Structures for Reaching New Frontiers by Cho, David J.

Box 16, folder 10: The Church in the New Testament by Chow, Wilson

Box 17, folder 8: Non-institutional Churches: Omar Cabrera Church BY Churruarin, Juan

Box 17, folder 9: Churches Experiencing Renewal: St. Michael’s Church, England by Cray, Graham

Box 17, folder 10: Issues Related to Christian Discipleship by Daidanso ma Djongwe, Rene

Box 17, folder 11: Churches under Pressure: Mekane Yesus Church, Ethiopia by Dalellew, Tesfatsion

Box 17, folder 29: Reaching Unreached People Groups by Dayton, Edward D.

Box 18, folder 12: Social Transformation: The Mission of God by Dayton, Edward D.

Box 17, folder 13: Operation Reach-Out by Evans, Robert A.

Box 17, folder 30: The Unity and Diversity of the World-wide Church by Gitari, Rev. David M.

Box 17, folder 31: Radio in Church Planting Evangelism by Gray, Francis A.

Box 16, folder 15: The Nature of the Church by Gutierrez, Rev. Rolando

Box 16, folder 8: From Wheaton 66 to Wheaton 83: An Historical Overview by Howard, David M.

Box 17, folder 15: Churches Cared for by Itinerant Pastors: Mizoram Baptist Church by Hminga, C. L.

Box 17, folder 16: Relationship Between the Church and Para Church Agencies by Jason, Noel

Box 18, folder 13: Justice, Freedom, and Social Transformation by Jeune, Chavannes

Box 17, folder 32: Training for New Frontiers by Kattapuram, V.M.

Box 17, folder 17: Churches in Urban Situations: Redeemed Gospel Church by Kitanga, Arthur

Box 16, folder 16: The Church and the Kingdom of God by Kuzmic, Peter

Box 18, folder 14: Christian Compassion and Social Transformation by Mangalwad, Vishal

Box 17, folder 18: Churches in Urban Situations: First Alliance Church, New York by McGee, Eugene

Box 18, folder 15: The Local Church and Development by Moffitt, Bob

Box 17, folder 35: The Lostness of Man and Salvation in Christ by Nazir, Ali, Michael

Box 18, folder 16: Culture and Socio-Cultural Change by Paredes, Tito

Box 17, folder 20: Relationship between the Local Church and Para-Church Agencies by Perez, Pablo

Box 17, folder 36: The Heartbeat of God in Mission: Lessons from History by Pierson, Paul E.

Box 17, folder 21: Evangelicals and the Doctrine of the Church in the Context of European Church History by Runia, Klass

Box 17, folder 37: Evangelism and Development by Samuel, Vinay and Sugden, Chris

Box 18, folder 1: God’s Intention for the World: Tensions Between Eschatology and History by Samuel, Vinay and Sugden, Chris

Box 18, folder 17: Mercy and Social Transformation by Scott, Waldron

Box 18, folder 18: Development and Eschatology by Sinclair, Maurice

Box 18, folder 19: End Times, Eschatology, and Nuclear Fatalism by Sine, Tom

Box 16, folder 11: The Church in Rome by Steuerhagel, Valdir

Box 18, folder 2: The Way Ahead - Implementation of Wheaton ‘83 by Sookhdeo, Patrick

Box 17, folder 22: Churches Experiencing Renewal: Javanese Church by Sutjiono, S.

Box 18, folder 20: Evangelism and Social Transformation by Tienou, Tite

Box 18, folder 21: Change Among the Pokot by Voorhies, Sam

Box 18, folder 22: Biblical Foundations for Social Justice and Human Liberation Wall, Robert

Box 17, folder 23: Mission and the Church’s Nature by Walvoord, John F.

Box 17, folder 24: Churches Under Pressure: House Churches in China by Wang, Thomas

Box 16, folder 17: The Church and its Task of World Evangelization by Webster, Warren

Box 18, folder 5: Resources for New Frontier Missions by Weele, Teo J.V.D.

Box 18, folder 6: Church and Mission in the Age of Multinational Corporations by Wettach, Theodor

Box 16, folder 12: The Church at Antioch by Williams, Theo

Box 16, folder 13: The Church in Jerusalem by Williams, Theo

Box 18, folder 7: Strategy Task Force Paper: The Church in Frontier Mission by Wilson, Samuel

Box 18, folder 8: Unreached Peoples: Paper One and Two by Winter, Ralph D.

Box 17, folder 25: Outreach of the Local Church by Yeo, Alfred
Collection 598 Records of Wheaton '83 Conference
Bob Shuster
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US