Updated on September 8 with membership figure for the new company and other details.
Seventh-day Adventist believers from across the United Arab Emirates gathered last Sabbath at a hotel in Fujairah to witness the organization of a new congregation in the Middle Eastern country.
The Fujairah Company becomes the 21st formally organized congregation in the Adventist Church’s Gulf Field region, which includes the countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The region, one of the most challenging areas in the world for Christianity, has a total of 16 Adventist churches and five companies, including eight churches and two companies in the United Arab Emirates.
Gulf Field president Steven Manoukian congratulated the 25 members of the newly formed company for the hard work they have done leading up to the dedication service in a hall at the Concorde Hotel on Sept. 5. He encouraged them to go forward in faith and have an impact in their part of the world.
“Go forth in faith: Faith that can move mountains; faith that is based in God’s word; faith that changes lives — your lives and the lives of those around you; faith that will help you in the tough times and establish you as you look forward to the second coming of Jesus,” Manoukian said.
The congregation grew from a small group of believers that started meeting in Fujairah on Fridays in 2002. Fujairah, one of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates, has a population of about 152,000 people living in an area about the size of New York City.
Lorraine Bayot, leader of the new congregation, said the first meetings took place on Fridays because the weekend in the United Arab Emirates was Thursday and Friday.
“We met on Fridays until 2006, when the weekend was changed to Friday and Saturday,” Bayot said. “After the weekend change, we continued our Friday meeting and in additional to that, some of us started to attend Sabbath morning services in Dubai whenever we could.”
Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates.
As more believers moved to Fujairah and the number of believers in Fujairah increased, the group started to hold Sabbath morning services locally in a member’s home in 2009. The next year, with the assistance of other congregations and the Gulf Field, the group rented a bigger room for worship services and later moved to the Concord Hotel.
With the organization of the Fujairah Company, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has at least one congregation in six of the seven emirates. The only emirate without an official Adventist presence is Umm al-Quwain, where a handful of Adventists live and work but worship in a neighboring emirate, Ras al-Khaimah.
“Ajman Fellowship is already functioning although it is not formally organized yet; just a matter of time though, by God’s grace,” said Jessie P. Colegado, secretary and treasurer of the Gulf Field, which is part of the larger Middle East and North Africa Union.