In 1956 Evangelical Protestant leaders in Israel came together in a spirit of unity to form the United Christian Council in Israel (UCCI). The intervening years were filled with dramatic events in the Middle East. Throughout these years, many people have placed their stamp on the organization—after all, people are the organization. Things never happen in a vacuum.
Roy H. Kreider, in his book Land of Revelation, writes: “The UCCI was formed in 1956 to welcome into membership those churches and Christian institutions and agencies within the Protestant and Episcopal communities who desired to cooperate in strengthening the local congregations in the Land.”
In the beginning, God began stirring the hearts of a few individuals to bring together a few churches and expatriate Christian organizations. They saw the need and the benefit of coming together in a formal organization for mutual fellowship and encouragement. Thus, the UCCI in Israel had its origin as the umbrella organization for evangelical groups. Steadily more organizations were added, though through test and crises some left. The spirit that binds us together has stayed and, through it all, the organization has matured.
Duke Zinzendorf (1700-1760), founder of the Christian Community at Herrnhut, also had to grapple with the fact that his community came from very different backgrounds. The Duke, a very charismatic leader, reiterated the famous quote by Augustine: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things, charity”, a concept that has been the spirit of the UCCI from its inception. I cannot escape the impression that Christians being brought together, and staying together, from so many backgrounds and persuasions is a miracle in itself!
In our desire to fulfill the prayer of Jesus for unity amongst the disciples, the UCCI has been eager in following His call. In keeping with the historical tradition expressed by Augustine and Zinzendorf, we make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit wherever we can. We live in exciting times—never before we have seen so many revivals in the Global North as well as in the Global South. We are not alone; in 2009 the UCCI formally adopted the name Evangelical Alliance Israel (EAI) to better reflect the fact that we are one of the 127 national expressions of the World Evangelical Alliance—an organization representing over 600 million evangelicals.