The Association of International Churches in Europe and the Middle East traces its origins to an annual gathering of pastors and their spouses serving English-speaking international churches in Europe and the Middle East. Concerned about isolation experienced by English-speaking churches in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, the Foreign Language Office of the European Conference of Churches, the International Congregations and Lay Ministry Office of the National Council of Churches in Christ USA, and Presbyterian missionary Ray Teeuwissen organized a conference in Geneva in 1967 for pastors and their spouses serving English-speaking international churches in Europe and the Middle East. The annual meeting continues to this day.
At the pastors’ conference in 1974 in Antwerp, Belgium, the pastors attending resolved “that there should be a more formal structure than the present Annual Conference of Pastors and Wives Serving English Speaking Churches in Europe and the Middle East” and “that the name of the new organization be ’The Association of International Churches (Ecumenical – English Speaking – Europe and the Middle East)’”.
By the conference in Athens in May 1975, nine pastors reported their churches agreed to the formation of an association of churches. The pastors voted and established the new association. A special committee was appointed and articles of association were drawn up. Invitations to join the emerging association were sent to English-speaking churches around Europe and the Middle East. By the close of the Association’s first meeting in Paris on 1 May 1976, nine churches were charter members: the American Protestant Church in Bonn, the International Protestant Church in Brussels, the American Church in London, the International Church in Copenhagen, the American Church in Paris, the American Protestant Church in The Hague, International Church of Stockholm, Vienna Community Church, and the English Language Church of Tehran.
In April 1981 the Association changed its name to the ’Association of International Churches in Europe and the Middle East’.
In 2018 the Association was registered in the Netherlands as an ‘Association with limited jurisdiction’.
Today the Association includes over 30 churches in 20 countries across Europe and the Middle East