Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International
The Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International (FGBMFI) is a fellowship of lay businessmen. Its main purpose is to bring interest to the Christian gospel. Theologically, the organisation has its roots in Pentecostalism.
FGBMFI was founded in 1952 at Clifton's Cafeteria in Los Angeles by Demos Shakarian, a California dairy farmer of Armenian descent. Following a difficult start (for a year nothing happened to the original group that met weekly), then a donation of $1000 was given to start a small publication titled Full Gospel Business Men's VOICE, it grew steadily, the second chapter was in Phoenix, Arizona, and after a few years chapters were set up throughout the world. <See The Happiest People on Earth, the story of Demos Shakarian as told to John and Elizabeth Sherrill, Steward Press, Chuppaqua, New York, 10514, 1975>
After Demos Shakarian died in 1993, his son Richard Shakarian assumed the organization's leadership. The legitimacy of Richard's claim to leadership was disputed by some directors of the FGBMFI leadership, despite the mentoring he had received by Demos Shakarian before his death. There had been previous leadership disputes in FGBMFI's history.
One of those early groups that split encouraged other Chapters to leave and formed "IFCB". After Demos' death, several FGBMFI leaders who objected to Richard's leadership seceded and formed Business Mens Fellowship (BMF), which received its first financial contribution ($1,000) from Rose Shakarian, Demos Shakarian's widow. BMF was initially led by an attorney, who sued Richard. Steve Shakarian, Demos' son, later became one of the directors of BMF. In the mid-1990s, some major FGBMFI National Offices in Asia, namely Singapore and Hong Kong, withdrew from FGBMFI and allied themselves with the BMF.
Despite these successes, in the mid-2000s, there was another leadership split. Instead of starting a new organization with a different name (as both IFCB and BMF had done), the new group named itself "Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship in America", or "FGBMFA", borrowing heavily from the FGBMFI's official history in marketing.
FGBMFI is active in several countries. In some countries, it uses a version of its name translated in the local language. In Germany, e.g., Christen im Beruf (“Christians in professional life”), in Finland Suomen Täyden Evankeliumin Liikemiesten Kansainvälinen Veljesliitto (STELK), in several Spanish-speaking countries Fraternidad Internacional de Hombres de Negocio del Evangelio Completo (FIHNEC), in Poland Miedzynarodowa Spolecznosc Biznesmenow Pelnej Ewangelii - Chrzescijanie w Biznesie.
FGBMFI should not be confused with Christian Business Men's Committee (CBMC) and International Christian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC). CBMC, which was founded before the 2nd World War, has a broader theological background. ICCC was founded by FGBMFI members in Sweden, but it has a different purpose. Simultaneous membership of two or more of these organisations is generally not considered a problem.
There is some resemblance with Aglow. The latter, however, which is a fellowship of evangelical women, puts more emphasis on spiritual growth, while FGBMFI primarily focuses on spreading the gospel.
- Demos Shakarian, John & Elisabeth Sherrill: The Happiest People on Earth. Old Tappan, N.J.: Chosen Books: distributed by F. H. Revell Co., c1975. ISBN 0-912376-14-7. 187 pages.
- Val Fotherby: The awakening giant. London (UK) (Marshall Pickering), 2000. ISBN 0-551-03234-0. 200 pages.
- FGBMFI International website
- "Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International" by J. R. Zeigler; pp. 653–54 in The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, revised and expanded edition, ed. Stanley M. Burgess, associate editor Eduard M. Van der Maas. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002)
- "FGBMFI: Facing Frustrations and the Future", by B. Bird. Charisma (June 1986)
- "FGBMFI Struggles toward the Future", by D. Shakarian(?). Charisma (March 1988)
- All Things Are Possible, by D. E. Harrell Jr., 1975
- How to live like a King's Kid, by H. Hill. Logos International, 1974. ISBN 0-88270-083-9.