The World Convention is currently building a global reference for the nearly 180 countries and territories where we know there are Christian – Churches of Christ – Disciples of Christ congregations. Rather than wait for comprehensive, complete information we are putting up details that we readily have available. If you can correct or add to this information, please contact us with details at email@example.com Reference for further information will be in the form of web sites and mailing addresses.
The Portuguese Republic is located at the southern tip of Europe’s Iberian Peninsula and shares only one border, on the east, with Spain. The Atlantic Ocean borders on the west and south. The Roman Empire controlled the area from the second century B.C. until the fifth century. As the Roman Empire collapsed the area was taken over by various tribes until the Muslim Moors invaded from northern Africa in the eighth century. The Moors occupied the land until being finally expelled from Burgundy in the twelfth century and a Burgundian monarchy was established. In the fourteenth century a Castilian line was established with John I as king. His son, Henry the Navigator encouraged the Portuguese to widespread exploration and established far-flung colonies. In subsequent centuries invasion by other European powers contributed to the decline of Portugal as a world power and empire. The monarchy was overthrown in 1910 and a dictatorship established in 1926 with Olivier Salazar in control and remaining in power until 1968. A 1974 coup led to democratic elections and the establishment of a democratic republic. The religious population is dominated by the Roman Catholic Church which accounts for 97% of the population.
Because of the strong presence of the Roman Catholic Church it has been difficult for other communions to secure a strong foothold. The American a cappella Churches of Christ began as early as 1969 to establish a congregation in Lisbon. After eight years of activity by several missionaries that effort was abandoned and the church ceased to exist. Later efforts in Lisbon also proved the difficulty of the work in the Capitol city, though at one time 122 baptisms were reported in a five-year period. Steve McFarland began a work in Oporto that was later taken over by Manual de Oliveira. Robert Reid also ministered in Oporto. The 1990 edition of Mac Lynn’s Churches of Christ Around the World listed eight congregations in Portugal with four national preachers. Current statistics are unavailable.
In about 1981 Dick and Sarah Robinson affiliated with the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in the United States began the Portugal Christian Mission, beginning in Carcavelos and later planting churches in Braga (with a national leader –Carlos Rebelo) and Montijo. They also established the Iberian Research Center to study the roots of early Christianity on the Iberian Peninsula. The Robinsons were joined in 1988 by Robert and Derlani Fife and their family. Later, Jeff and Monica Fife and their family also joined the Portugal Christian Mission. Jeff and Monica both grew up in Brazil, a former colony of Portugal.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
Portugal Christian Mission
Dick and Sarah Robinson
Rua por dol Sol 29
2775 Carcavelos, Portugal