Jesus was a Middle Easterner, as were the first Christian missionaries—James, Peter, Paul, Mark, and Thomas among them. Our Christian faith ties us to the Middle East, where Christ was born; and to Europe, to which Christianity spread and underwent historic reform. As North American churches in the Reformed tradition, our faith heritage—and for many, our family roots—are grounded in the Middle East and Europe.
Global Ministries is part of this rich Christian heritage, steeped in UCC and Disciples missionary history of more than two centuries. The first Congregational missionaries to the Middle East left for Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey), Beirut, and Jerusalem in 1819; the first Disciples missionary went to Jerusalem in 1849. They found living and witnessing Christian communities there, even as they discovered great ecumenical and interfaith diversity.
Today, our Middle Eastern and European partners offer important witness in contexts of diverse religious traditions—and of changing religious landscapes. We are blessed to accompany many churches, faith-based organizations, and institutions in the Middle East and Europe as they strive to:
- Support human rights and promote human dignity;
- advocate for justice and peace in contexts of conflict; engage in interfaith dialogue;
- respond to the needs of people impacted by emergencies, including natural disasters and war;
- promote community and economic development;
- Provide opportunities for education—from primary schools through seminaries and universities;
- witness to their faith even in challenging contexts.