United Christian Church of Dubai
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The United Christian Church of Dubai (UCCD) is an evangelical church. Established in 1962 as a small fellowship of expatriate oil and gas workers in the Emirate of Dubai, it now comprises more than 1,000 people from well over 50 nationalities, meeting in the Dubai Evangelical Church Centre on Friday mornings.
In 1977, as more expatriate Christians came to Dubai, the small fellowship constituted itself as a church, called the International Evangelical Church of Dubai. A pastor was called, and a statement of doctrine was adopted. In the following year, the first constitution was accepted. The church was then meeting on Sundays in the Jumeirah American School (now the American School of Dubai), and Sunday School was held there in the afternoons.
In 1980, due to international tensions, the church was asked, for security reasons, to leave the Jumierah American School. For a while the church met in hired hotel rooms and later in Our Own English School and The Cambridge High School, by arrangement with the school’s owner, Mrs. Varkey.
In 1990, the church leased a large Arabic style villa in Jumeirah (the “Jumeirah Villa”), which remained the church home until September 2003, and continued thereafter to be used for Sunday evening services and other churches’ meetings until the Dubai Municipality ordered the villa’s closure in June 2006.
With the Villa as a permanent place of worship, the church grew significantly. Most notably, in 1990 a Friday morning service was started by 4 families, which grew to become the main gathering of the church. The Villa was also used by other Christian groups, including the Arabic Evangelical Church of Dubai (AECD). In 1994, an informal group composed of UCCD and AECD and others applied for a grant of land from the Ruler of Dubai on which to construct a church building. The Ruler of Dubai in 1998 granted a piece of land to these churches, and fundraising commenced for a building.
2000 and beyond
In September, 2003, the Friday services commenced at the new Dubai Evangelical Church Centre (“DECC”) in Maranatha Hall. By 2009, six years after DECC was constructed, the total cost of construction had been covered (primarily by members of UCCD) and all loans repaid. DECC includes large prayer halls, smaller meeting rooms, a library and an outside pool for baptisms. It is located within a compound alongside church buildings of other denominations.
In 2010 UCCD sent out a number of members and staff to establish a sister church, Redeemer Church of Dubai, on the opposite side of Dubai. UCCD continued to support Redeemer Church of Dubai financially until 2012, by which time it had grown into a self-supporting church.
Although licences to hold Christian worship or build churches in Dubai are restricted, UCCD's pastor joined other Christian leaders in 2011 to express their gratitude to the Government for their freedom to meet.
Today, almost fifty years since the small fellowship was begun in the sands of Dubai, UCCD remains committed to same evangelical vision of its founders: “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
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- United Christian Church of Dubai website
- Dubai Evangelical Church Centre website Archived January 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Diana Elias; Raissa Kasolowsky (8 October 2010). "Christians in Arab Gulf face hurdles to worship". Reuters. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Redeemer Church of Dubai website
- "Dubai churches greet UAE on Eid Al Fitr". Emirates247. 13 September 2011. Archived from the original on 20 June 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.