Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East
This church is an autonomous body comprised of congregations throughout Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Iran, and also Australia. It began in the 19th century as an indigenous reform movement within the Armenian Apostolic Church, and developed into an independent community in 1846 in Istanbul, and in subsequent decades registered a membership of 60,000 throughout the Ottoman empire. After the First World War, when the Armenian population was decimated and the remnant deported from its historic homeland in what is now Turkey, the Union was reorganized in Syria and Lebanon. The Union is composed of autonomous congregations. Its organizational pattern is a kind of modified congregationalism. The annual convention of the Union is the highest authority. The central committee of 12 members, elected at the convention, acts as an administrative body supervising and coordinating the activities of the member churches and church-related institutions.
From its inception, the Armenian Evangelical Church has stressed the importance of education. It now operates 23 schools and four high schools and owns the only university in the Armenian diaspora: Haigazian University, with an enrolment of 650 students. It operates four conference centres in Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Turkey. Together with the Arabic-speaking Evangelical churches, the Union owns and operates a secondary school in Aleppo and the Near East School of Theology in Beirut (the latter also supported by foreign missionary agencies).
With the Armenian Orthodox and Armenian Catholic Catholicosates it operates the old people's homes in Aleppo and Beirut, and a sanatorium in Lebanon.
It has developed ecumenical ties with several churches and fraternal relations with the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, the Armenian Evangelical Union of France and the Armenian Evangelical Union of Armenia. In spite of grave problems of emigration and persecution, the Union continues to function with a growing awareness of its mission in its territories.