The Evangelical Community Church of Abu Dhabi was started in 1972 when a small group of English-speaking Christians met together in the home of Carl and Barbara Sherbeck on Hamdan Street. The Sherbecks were members of TEAM, the organization that founded the Oasis Hospital, a Christian hospital in Al Ain. The small congregation soon outgrew the Sherbecks’ living room and moved to a warehouse next door.
Soon after, TEAM asked the Abu Dhabi authorities for property on which to build a house for their workers, making it clear that they also wanted to use the property as a place of prayer for Christians. Permission was granted and a plot was allocated just off Airport Road, across from a large open-air mosque. In 1975 the initial buildings were completed, and the church relocated to the new site. The facilities were shared with an Arabic church and several Indian churches.
The Evangelical Community Church continued to grow under a succession of pastors: Carl Sherbeck (1972-1977), Herb Lyon, (1977-1979), Gordon Stinson (1979-1983), Jimmy Smith (1984-1990), Cameron Arensen (1990-2015), Kevin Penman (Interim, 2016-2016) and Jeramie Rinne (2016-2020).
In 1990, the use of the property as a place for Christian meetings was challenged by authorities at the Municipality. By now, ten congregations used the Center for regular worship services. After many appeals and much prayer, a new site was allocated for the Evangelical Church Center. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in January 1993, and we moved into the new facility in April 1994. The ten congregations were soon joined by others until 18 different congregations were using the Center. These congregations minister to different language and ethnic groups.
The Evangelical Community Church grew in this new facility and began adding additional staff in 1995. As our Friday morning worship service began to crowd the Lower Chapel, we added a second worship service beginning in 2000. Both services continued to grow and stretch the limits of the building. This led our church to take the lead in beginning another building program. By the time we moved into Phase 1 of the new building on February 8, 2008, our attendance in worship services was over 700. In October 2009, we began to utilize all of the completed building, and attendance now regularly surpasses 1000 on Friday mornings and we have added a Sunday evening worship service as well. And the new building? When we moved in, the indebtedness stood at 12 million dirhams (out of a total construction cost of 24 million). In August 2015 we were able to announce that the entire debt has been paid off. The number of churches using the Center has also grown, with over 13 congregations now worshipping weekly in a variety of languages. It is indeed a busy place!
In 2015, Pastor Cam Arensen retired after 25 years of ministry at ECC. Pastor Kevin Penman served the congregation as interim pastor in 2016, until the church called Jeramie Rinne as senior pastor the same year. Pastor Jeramie was joined by senior associate pastor, Curt Romig, and associate pastor, Aubrey Sequeira.
In 2017, ECC amended its constitution to move to an elder-led model and in 2018 installed the first lay elders in its history. In 2020, Pastor Jeramie departed to his home country to be closer to his family, and in January 2021, ECC installed Pastor Aubrey as ECC's new Senior Pastor.
The church continues to thrive and grow under the new pastoral leadership. We are excited for what the Lord has in store for ECC in the years ahead.
We welcome you to our growing congregation in this dynamic setting, and we pray that you will find a spiritual home and a place of service among us.
We hope you will join us in writing the next chapter in our history as a church.
Pastor Cam's book can be downloaded here: "When Comes the Storm" - PDF