Wycliffe International Formed 40 Years Ago Today

It is recorded in a simple paragraph in the minutes of the Wycliffe Bible Translators Board, approving the By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation for Wycliffe Bible Translators International to be formed on the 1st of May 1980. 

On that day, 40 years ago, George Cowan became the first President of Wycliffe International. Operating from rented office space at the Wycliffe US headquarters in Huntington Beach, California he gave direction to the new Wycliffe organisations that were springing up in Europe, Canada and Australia.

George Cowan

George Cowan - first President of Wycliffe International

Those 40 years have seen considerable change in world mission and Wycliffe International has changed dramatically, too. 

From those early days, with a handful of mostly western organisations driving Bible translation work; to becoming the Wycliffe Global Alliance, connecting more than 100 national organisations who themselves are leading more than 1,000 Bible translation programmes.

Kirk Franklin and Dave Crough

In March 2017, Kirk Franklin (centre left), Executive Director of the Wycliffe Global Alliance, stands with Dave Crough and leaders from around the Alliance with his newly published book, Towards Global Missional Leadership.

2020 was already due to be a significant year. The Alliance planned its Global Gathering in September and would mark the transition from Kirk Franklin, the Executive Director for the last 12 years, to Stephen Coertze. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic may be enforcing a greater change to world mission. That picture is only beginning to clarify — but the past 40 years have shown that out of crisis and uncertainty, God reveals opportunity and inspires innovation.

Stephen Coertze - Incoming Executive Director of the Wycliffe Global Alliance

Change may be constant, but the vision for the Wycliffe Global Alliance remains steady:  seeing communities and nations transformed through God’s love and his Word expressed in their languages and cultures. As together we celebrate the Alliance’s first 40 years, we look forward with excitement toward the day when every nation, tribe, people and language will gather before the throne of God.  


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