Recognizing the Church of the Brethren in Spain–and passing on to Annual Conference a recommendation for that body to recognize the fledgling Spanish church, was a key action of the Mission and Ministry Board at its March 8-11 meeting at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill.
The recommendation to recognize the Church of the Brethren in Spain came from the Mission and Ministries Planning Council, and was presented by Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer.
Nuevo Amanecer Church of the Brethren and Atlantic Northeast District made the initial proposal, following the establishment of congregations in Spain by Brethren immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Nuevo Amanecer pastor Fausto Carrasco has been a key leader in the development of the Brethren congregations in Spain.
Wittmeyer informed the board that there are several congregations of Brethren in Spain, located in Madrid and in an area on the northwest coast. Each of the congregations includes an average of 50-70 participants. Those involved with the Brethren congregations in Spain include native-born Spanish citizens as well as immigrants from the DR and a number of other countries. Congregations have been able to register locally but not corporately as a denomination to this point. The recognition from the US church will support their effort to do so.
The board is recommending to the delegates of Annual Conference that the congregations in Spain be recognized as “being part of the global Church of the Brethren community” and that Global Mission and Service staff be encouraged to nurture the relationship with Spanish Brethren, seeking to encourage efforts toward independence and self-governance.
The recommendation adds, in part: “We recognize the dangers of financially supporting new mission projects in ways that can unintentionally discourage local initiative and foster an unhealthy dependence on outside funding, limiting its growth and development. Therefore we seek to partner in ways that affirm, respect, and challenge the development of the spiritual and material resources already present in the mission, while offering spiritual, fraternal, and leadership development support.”
Many board members expressed excitement about the development, while noting the need to work at ensuring that the new Spanish body does not fall into the trap of financial dependence on the US church. Noted chair Ben Barlow, the action is “not that we are taking the Brethren movement back to Europe, but receiving Brethren there!”