InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

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InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) is an interdenominational, evangelical parachurch organization promoting personal spiritual and intellectual development on American college and university campuses. Founded in England in 1877, IVCF came to Canada in 1928. With the support of Chicago industrialist Herbert J. Taylor, IVCF established an American branch in September 1941 under the leadership of C. Stacey Woods. Opening with chapters on forty-six U.S. campuses, IVCF had more than five hundred chapters by the early 1950s—growth enhanced by its absorption of the Student Foreign Missions Fellowship (1945) and the Christian Nurses' Fellowship (1948). From the 1960s through the late 1990s IVCF fluctuated between seven hundred and nine hundred campus chapters, with active membership ranging between twenty thousand and thirty thousand students. Over the years, its massive Urbana Missionary Conference has been its most important activity. Held every third year over the Christmas vacation at the University of Illinois, it has continued the traditions of the Student Volunteer Movement and other evangelical youth mission organizations. In the 1990s the Urbana conferences attracted an average of nearly twenty thousand students.

Along with groups such as Campus Crusade for Christ and the Navigators, IVCF played an important role in establishing a visible evangelical presence on American campuses in the post–World War II era. IVCF is unique among these groups, however, in that its enduring British heritage has emphasized the life of the mind over pragmatic revivalism. As a result, IVCF, with its publishing arm, InterVarsity Press (founded in 1948), has been a consistent advocate for an intellectually engaged evangelicalism. In this role it has done much to foster a thoughtful approach to contemporary intellectual, cultural, and social questions not only within InterVarsity's constituency but within the wider evangelical subculture as well.


See alsoCampus Crusadefor Christ; Evangelical Christianity; Jesus Movement; Navigators; Youthfor Christ.

Bibliography

Hunt, Keith, and Gladys Hunt. For Christ and the University: The Story of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship ofthe U.S.A., 1940 –1990. 1991.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Collection 300, archives of the Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College, Ill.

Woods, C. Stacey. The Growth of a Work of God. 1978.

Larry Eskridge