Lao Evangelical Church
The Lao Evangelical Church (LEC) grew out of the work of Swedish Protestant (1890), Swiss Brethren (1902) and Christian and Missionary Alliance missionaries (1928). The missionaries who worked in three different parts of the country came together and adopted a constitution to establish the LEC in 1956. The newly formed church was granted corporate status by the Royal Lao Government in 1960. The change of government in 1975 impacted the church negatively. Between 1975 and 1990 the church did not have any contacts with the outside world as the country remained a closed-door society where religious freedom was restricted. Since the country opened up in 1990, the membership of the LEC has been growing. The LEC recently started a Bible school training programme at its headquarters in the state capital Vientiane. Until now most of the pastors were trained in neighbouring countries. Since 1975, no expatriate missionaries have been permitted to work within Laos. Although public evangelical activities are not encouraged by the socialist government, the churches in the capital city, towns and rural areas are experiencing considerable growth, especially with increasing youth membership.
The LEC is headed by an executive president, vice-president and directors of programme departments for Christian education, youth, women, social development and relations with the government. The highest governing body of the LEC is the General Council, which meets annually. Besides the spiritual activities, the LEC has social development programmes such as a medical clinic. vocational training centre for women, assistance to primary school, clean water supply, et. The LEC is the largest denomination in the country officially recognized by the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR). The LEC maintains good relations with other churches and the Theravada Buddhists who make up 60% of the total population of the country.
The LEC has been a member of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) since 1967, but did not have contacts with CCA from 1975 to 1990 due to the political situation in the country. Ever since the LEC was allowed to relate with overseas Christian bodies, it became an active member of CCA.