Gulf Churches Fellowship
Article One: The Name of the Ecumenical Fellowship
- The Gulf Churches Fellowship (GCF)
- The Gulf Churches Fellowship includes: GCC countries and Yemen.
Article Two: Theological Basis
2.1 All participating churches of the Gulf Churches Fellowship believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior in accordance with the Holy Scripture and as articulated in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.
2.2 We are unified in our areas of shared witness, service and common cause. We are many churches, richly diverse in our spoken languages, liturgies, even Christologies and theologies, working as one for the glory of God.
2.3 The Gulf Churches Fellowship derives its competence from the Christian churches assembled together. It is not an institution set in authority over the participating churches.
Article Three: Definition of the Gulf Churches Fellowship
The Gulf Churches Fellowship consists primarily of executive church leaders from the officially recognized churches of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemen. The GCF will gather for the purpose of growing in relationship with each other, identifying areas of shared ministry and concern, and joining together for mutual support in communicating with governments.
Article Four: Participating Churches
4.1 The officially recognized churches are categorized into five ecclesiastical groupings (families) that are relevant to the Gulf context: Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal Churches in Communion, Oriental Orthodox, Protestant.
4.2 Officially recognized churches are defined as those churches which both own and manage buildings, and have the authority to allocate visas and to sponsor congregations. All other Christian churches in the Gulf are represented through their sponsoring church body.
4.3 The five ecclesiastical families hold association in the fellowship. They are equally represented throughout the structure of the fellowship. In the understanding of this Article, an ecclesiastical family includes churches that are autonomous within the family administratively and ritually, sharing a common faith tradition and in full communion with each other. In the event that two or more of the ecclesiastical families achieve full communion with each other, each group will retain its previous representation within the structure of the fellowship.
4.4 Each ecclesiastical family within the fellowship represents churches specified according to the fellowship’s official list of churches. An ecclesiastical family is able at any time to add a new church to those which it represents in conformity with Article 2.1.
(See appendix A for list of officially recognized churches in each country.)
Article Five: Organization of the Gulf Churches Fellowship
The Gulf Churches Fellowship executes its responsibilities through decisions of all gathered delegates at meetings, an executive committee undertakes the business of the fellowship between gathered sessions.
5.1 The Annual Meeting
5.1.1. The voting body of the annual meeting is made up of the delegates from the list in Appendix A. 2. Each family may assign up to seven delegates to the annual meeting, for a total of 35 delegates. As far as is possible, delegates should be executive leaders, bishops, decision makers and people who are authorized to act on behalf of their churches.
5.1.2. The delegates gathered at the annual meeting is the decision making body for the Gulf Churches Fellowship.
5.1.3. The annual meeting takes place once each year in a location to be determined by the executive committee.
5.1.4. The voting delegates of participating churches are appointed by the sending churches and not by the Gulf Fellowship of Churches.
5.1.5. A meeting shall be considered legal upon the attendance of a minimum of half of the members and at least one delegate from each ecclesiastical family in the fellowship.
5.1.6. The gathered delegates at the annual meeting are responsible for the following duties:
- They evaluate the overall work of the fellowship through the period between any two of its meetings.
- They elect the members of the executive committee, one from each of the five ecclesiastical families from among the delegates who are present at the annual meeting where the vote occurs.
- They elect a moderator of the fellowship. The moderator is elected on a rotational basis. Each ecclesiastical family can nominate a candidate for moderator in turn. The rotation will take place according to alphabetical order of the families.
- They also set the general objectives of the fellowship and its future program and structures.
- Each of the families has the privilege of inviting observers to the annual meeting in coordination with the executive committee.
5.2 The Executive Committee
5.2.1. The nomination of the candidates for the executive committee election should be submitted by each ecclesiastical family to the annual meeting.
5.2.2. The executive committee shall meet at least twice a year to conduct the business of the fellowship between annual meetings.
5.2.3. Each term will be for two years. Delegates may serve two consecutive terms. After a one year hiatus from the executive committee, delegates may be elected to a new two-year term. If someone is not able to complete their term, the family will appoint another to fulfill the term of the departing member. The appointed person can be re-elected for one additional term.
5.2.4. The executive committee has the following responsibilities:
- It implements the general directives and future programs defined at the annual meeting.
- It executes the decisions taken at the annual meeting and anything else that may have been entrusted to it.
- It establishes program offices and sub-committees as needed to implement the work of the fellowship.
- It oversees the work of these program offices and sub-committees.
- It shall oversee the finances of the fellowship, approve its balance and budget, define its sources of income, conduct fundraising and lay down general financial directives for the fellowship.
- It shall prepare the annual meetings, delimit the number of consultants, invite non-voting guests and speakers to attend and all other representatives of ecclesiastical organizations invited as observers.
- It shall fill vacancies within its own membership between annual meetings in consultation with the church and ecclesiastical family to which the previous incumbent belonged.
5.2.5. If a member must be absent from a meeting of the executive committee, the moderator, whenever possible in consultation with that member, shall invite an alternate member from the same ecclesiastical family.
5.2.6. Taking into consideration the agenda of a meeting of the executive committee, the moderator in consultation with the members of the executive committee and according to need, may invite any guest to attend that meeting. Guests shall have the privilege of the floor without the right to vote.
5.3.1. One member of the executive committee serves as moderator.
5.3.2 The moderator rotates among the five ecclesiastical families in alphabetical order (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal Churches in Communion, Oriental Orthodox, Protestant) and is confirmed at the annual meeting.
5.3.3 The moderator serves a term of one year. The moderator may be elected to serve a second one-year term.
5.3.4. The moderator facilitates the annual meeting and convenes and presides at the meetings of the executive committee. He/she follows up on the execution of the executive committee’s decisions. He/she oversees the strategic vision and plan for the GCF.
5.4.1 The secretary of the Gulf Churches Fellowship will be appointed for a two-year period. The executive committee will propose a name for the secretary which will be ratified by a vote of the delegates at the annual meeting. If neither the executive committee nor a majority of the delegates at the annual meeting object, the secretary’s appointment will be extended for another two-year period.
5.4.2 The secretary shall attend annual meetings and meetings of the executive committee.
5.4.3 The secretary shall have a voice but not a vote.
5.4.4 The duties of the secretary shall be:
- Coordinating the work of the executive committee;
- Maintaining the Gulf Churches Fellowship database;
- Sending invitations to the annual meeting on behalf of the Gulf Churches Fellowship;
- Recording meeting minutes;
- Any other work delegated to the secretary by the executive committee.
5.4.5 A budget for the secretary’s office shall be proposed by the executive committee and approved at the annual meeting.
5.5 Program sub-committees
5.5.1 The Gulf Churches Fellowship may take up the following program categories: Ecumenism and inter-church relations, Christian-Muslim dialogue and relations, Government relations, Scriptural ministries, Migrant ministries, and Relationship with non-registered churches, or any other ad-hoc program committees as the need arises.
5.5.2 The executive committee will appoint a chair for each sub-committee.
Article Six: Code of Conduct
To support this structure, we agree:
- To conduct business according to a consensus process as far as possible.
- To conduct ourselves with transparency.
- To understand and respect our cultural and religious differences.
- To conduct ourselves with integrity in all our relationships.
- To work together for the interests of the Christian community and the common good of all in the countries where we serve.
Article Seven: Material Possessions of the Fellowship
The Gulf Churches Fellowship, is not a legal entity and so owns no property.
Article Eight: Relationship of Gulf Churches Fellowship to the Middle East Council of Churches
8.1 The Gulf Churches Fellowship seeks to be complementary to the MECC and affirms the high calling of the MECC to address the widest and deepest concerns of the whole region of the Middle East, including the full range of issues faced by Christians in the Gulf States.
8.2 The moderator and the secretary of the Gulf Churches Fellowship will seek to attend the General Assembly of the Middle East Council of Churches.
8.3 The General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches will be invited to attend the annual meeting of the Gulf Churches Fellowship and/or to appoint representatives from the MECC.
Article Nine: Relationship of the Gulf Churches Fellowship to other regional fellowships of churches including the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) and the World Council of Churches (WCC)
Due to the diverse demographic of participating churches from Asia and Africa, The Gulf Churches Fellowship will also seek to maintain communication with the Christian Conference of Asia, the All Africa Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
Article Ten: Amending the By-laws
10.1 Upon the recommendation of the executive committee, the by-laws of the fellowship maybe amended by a vote of two-thirds of the delegates present at the annual meeting.
10.2 The executive committee must present the proposed amendments to the delegates of the annual meeting at least two months prior to the annual meeting where the vote will take place. The amended by-laws come into effect on the date set at the annual meeting and do not have retroactive implications.
These by-laws were adopted on January 22nd 2014 and amended at the annual meeting on January 20th 2015. These by-laws will be reviewed again at the annual meeting in 2017.
Gulf Churches Fellowship Secretariat: Al Amana Centre, PO Box 11, PC Muscat 100, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, Ph: +968 24715472 Fax: +968 24715473 firstname.lastname@example.org