8 • The ACO Fellowship*: A sharing community

* English is the common language of the ACO partners. In the Christian context, the term of Fellowship evokes the fraternal aspect of the bonds that brings us together

Spiritual retreat at the EUL (in Neuwiller-lès-Saverne) in Alsace with missionaries, Armenian and Alsacian pastors, committed lay people. In center of the picture is Berthe Bertsch, the first female pastor in France
Europeans and oriental pastors exchanging views at the ACO Fellowship General Assembly in 1997- Liebfrauenberg, Goersdorf, in Alsace

At first the ACO developed as an independent organization deciding on its own missionary agenda.From the 1950s onwards, a change in the conception of the Mission pushed for the integration of the work of missionary organizations within the churches which had by that time become autonomous. Agreements were thus signed between the ACO and the two main, Armenian and Arab, Protestant partner Churches.

However, this first step remained unsatisfactory: despite a positive dialogue between the ACO and the Middle Eastern Churches, the latter felt they were not equal in the partnership.

Creation of the Fellowship, 1995

A crucial step began in 1992. The ACO realized that there was a need for much more reciprocity in relations and decision-making.

This was a dream emerging: learn more from each other, define projects together, contribute financially at the level of everyone’s capacity, have the same right to vote. It was about being on an equal footing.

This new vision raised questions and provoked long discussions before all could agree on the terms of the new by-laws.

The process came to a successful conclusion on October 13, 1995, in Kessab, Syria. It was a turning point for the ACO, a Western mission organization, now with an entirely new look which became the Fellowship, a community of fraternal sharing.

English is the common language of the ACO partners. In the Christian context, the term of Fellowship evokes the fraternal aspect of the bonds that brings us together

3 European missionary organizations
  • DM, Missionary Association of the Protestant Churches in French-speaking Switzerland
  • GZB, the Reformed Missionary Alliance of the Netherlands
  • Action chrétienne en Orient- France
3 Reformed Churches of the Middle East
  • The Union of Evangelical Armenian Churches of the Near East
  • The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (known as the Arab Synod)
  • The Synod of Evangelical Churches of Iran

Driven by this new way of sharing resources, the ACO Fellowship places the testimony of the Gospel at the heart of its action, including mutual support, projects of solidarity, training and sharing with partners.

Fellowship’s delegates with an iranien delegation in Armenia, 2018
French, Lebanese and Syrian Youth Exchange, 2016
Exchanges of young people and adults between Europeans and Orientals are developing, making it possible to experience reciprocal discovery between different cultures and expressions of faith.

Sharing a Worship in the Netherlands, 2017

Faced with the crises shaking the Middle East, the Fellowship intends to be a place for sharing the suffering experienced and asserting hope by inviting to prayer and action.


Let us not doubt that this new way of being a community will remain relevant in the face of the many challenges that the ACO Fellowship is called upon to face in this 21st century!