|Photo by Glenn Riegel|
|The business item recognizing the new Church of the Brethren in Spain was presented by past moderator Tim Harvey (left) and Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer.|
Recognition of the Church of the Brethren movement taking hold in Spain was given with enthusiasm by the delegate body.
The proposal was presented by Tim Harvey from Standing Committee and Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service. They described how the church in Spain got started about 10 years ago when Brethren from the Dominican Republic emigrated to Spain to find employment and then started churches. With support from Fausto Carrasco, a Church of the Brethren pastor in Bethlehem, Pa., they have been attracting and ministering to other immigrants to Spain from Latin America and other areas of the world, as well as native Spaniards.
The Brethren movement was already established in Spain when Wittmeyer heard about it in 2009. He and Carol Yeazell made a visit. Tim Harvey also visited during his year as Conference moderator. Harvey said the visitors found functioning congregations, vital worship, and active outreach to other immigrants to that area of Spain.
During questioning from the Conference floor, one person raised financial concerns, asking if approving this mission would open the denomination up to excessive costs. Wittmeyer responded that the main work, the mission work, was already being done by the people in Spain. Church of the Brethren resources and staff will not be needed to plant the church, but the role of American Brethren will be to build relationships and be supportive. He did not see the Spanish church as being resource dependent.
In response to another question, Wittmeyer noted that the main Spanish Brethren congregation has over 100 worshiping, that there are four churches in Madrid, several in the northern part of the country, and some preaching points. He said there are probably around eight congregations deeply interested in connecting with the Church of the Brethren.
The voice vote was loud as the delegates gave approval with enthusiasm. Harvey then led a prayer of thanksgiving and celebration.
— Frances Townsend is pastor of Onekama (Mich.) Church of the Brethren and a member of the Annual Conference News Team.