The Kingdom of Spain
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 kingdom of Spain occupies the bulk of Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, sharing borders with France, Andorra and Portugal. It is separated from Morocco in northern Africa by the narrow Straights of Gibraltar. Spain has known human inhabitation for thousands of years. In the third century B.C. Rome subdued the people groups who lived there and held control until the Visigoth invasion in the fifth century. Over the next three centuries it became Christianized until an invasion from Morocco in 711 established a flourishing Islamic civilization, which lasted for six centuries. By 1492 the Moors were expelled and Spain became a unified country under Roman Catholic rule. In the following century Spain became a major world power through exploration and colonization. In 1588 Phillip II sent his Armada to invade Protestant England, the defeat of which signaled the decline of Spain’s world power. In subsequent centuries Spain was forced to surrender its colonies. Civil War broke out in 1936 under Francisco Franco and ended in 1939. The Socialist Dictator Franco ruled the nation until his death in 1975. The monarchy was restored almost immediately; today King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia are constitutional monarchs. The Senate and the Congress of Deputies are the two legislative bodies. Religiously speaking 99% of the population is Roman Catholic.
Because the Roman Catholic hegemony of the religious life of Spain is so complete it is difficult for any other religious group to establish a foothold. However, there are a few independent groups worshiping in Spain. In 1965 Spaniard Juan Antonio Monroy traveled to the United States for the World’s Fair in New York and there made contact with American a cappella Churches of Christ. Through Monroy a connection between the Churches of Christ and the independent churches in Spain was established and at least six of these congregations and five of the preachers adopted the principles of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Following these initial contacts several American congregations began to support the Spanish brothers and sisters and American evangelists traveled to Spain for short term work.
Juan Monroy traveled widely throughout Spain preaching and speaking for the Herald of Truth broadcasts over Spanish radio. Through these broadcasts a number of people were converted and a congregation was begun in Madrid in 1965. That congregation grew to be the largest in Spain and has planted a number of other congregations throughout the country. Additional congregations have also been begun by other Spanish nationals despite opposition from the State religion. In 1990 there were more than thirty Churches of Christ in Spain with the number growing.
In about 1980 veteran U.S. missionaries of the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ William (Bill) and Virginia (Ginny) Loft began a work in Spain. The Lofts had previously served in Brazil, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and felt a call to serve in the “mother country” from which many Catholic missionaries had previously gone out to evangelize the Latin world. The Lofts were aided in this work on the Iberian Peninsula by the Dick Robinsons who began evangelizing in Caracavelos, Portugal and later planted churches in other places. The Lofts went to Murcia and established a congregation, making inroads by studying the Bible with young people. This led to the planting of a church in Alcantarilla, near Murcia. Bill Loft died in 1989 due to yellow fever but Ginny remained to carry on the work. Ginny has been joined by other missionary families, including Bill (now deceased) and Jackie Brant, Rob and Cindy Shoaff and Erick and Sira Guittierez of Nicaragua. Erick is a medical doctor and also works with the many Muslim immigrants to Spain. One tool utilized in evangelism has been Spanish and Arabic radio programs.
The Loft Mission in Spain is registered with the government which allows for the opportunity to hold Bible studies, vacation Bible schools and to have Christian Literature Ministry. In former times the instrumental and a cappella congregations related to one another though that is not now the case. However, they do co-register with the government, together with several other independent congregations, as Ingesia Cristiana Evangelica Espangna (The Evangelical Christian Church in Spain). This federation and its member confessions report in 2003 an active body of 65,000 members in 1,300 congregations with 300 pastors.
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.
While there is no national office The Evangelical Christian Church in Spain is the umbrella organization under which the Stone-Campbell Movement congregations have registration.
Web site: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/7136/evangels.html
A Cappella Churches of Christ
Web site: http://church-of-christ.org/churches/Spain/Spain.htm
Juan Antonio Monroy
Madrid 28080 Spain (or)
For Christian Churches and Churches of Christ see:
Bill Loft Mission, Inc.
Telephone: +34 68 89 3149