|Photo by courtesy of Norm Yeater|
|A group of Spanish Brethren display their certificates after completing a training session on aspects of ministry, led by a delegation of Brethren who traveled from the US to visit the emerging church in Spain.|
A delegation of six traveled to Spain April 1-10, representing groups who are providing financial and logistical support to the emerging church in Spain. Members of this group were: Marla Bieber Abe, co-pastor of Carlisle (Pa.) Church of the Brethren representing Brethren World Mission; Norm Yeater and Carolyn Fitzkee of Chiques Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa.; Daniel and Oris D’Oleo of Renacer, a Hispanic church plant in Roanoke, Va.; and Fausto Carrasco of Nuevo Amanacer Church of the Brethren in Bethlehem, Pa.
The delegation’s purpose was to meet with several groups who are interested in becoming Brethren, to participate in and give leadership to a workshop for church leaders, and to be part of the celebration of the graduation of eight church leaders who completed a training course over the last several years.
About 70 people gathered in the city of Gijon on April 6 for a day of training and spirit-filled worship. Daniel D’Oleo taught on evangelism and worked with the youth, Marla Bieber Abe taught the scriptural basis for pacifism, and Norm Yeater taught about the ordinances of love feast and baptism. Carolyn Fitzkee and Oris D’Oleo led activities for 10 elementary-age children.
The closing graduation celebration was held the next day during the worship service. Graduates received certificates signed by Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren, and a gift bag with books for further study. A powerful time of prayer concluded this service.
|Photo by Carolyn Fitzkee|
|Members of a delegation of Brethren visiting Spain found the emerging church to be alive and well: from left, Rafael Terrero, pastor of La Luz en las Naciones, one of the new Brethren congregations in Spain, poses with Fausto Carrasco, pastor of Nuevo Amanacer Church of the Brethren in Bethlehem, Pa., and his sister Miriam, and at far right Santos Terrero, a licensed minister from the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic.|
The US delegation, led by Fausto Carrasco, met with leaders and church projects in Madrid, Leon, Oviedo, Aviles, and Gijon. The mother church, in the northern coastal town of Gijon, called La Luz en Las Naciones (A Light to the Nations) is led by the pastoral team of Santos and Rafael Terrero. They are from the Dominican Republic, where Santos had been licensed as a minister in the Church of the Brethren.
The group in Oviedo has the strongest and most committed ties to the Brethren and is led by pastor Jairo Sandoval, an ordained minister from Colombia. Both groups reach out to new immigrants with a food bank and social services, such as housing and employment assistance. They are committed to reaching out to the lost and hurting in Spain, often characterized as a “post-Christian” nation, where the established churches are in decline.
Personal reflections on the trip to Spain
On my recent trip to visit Spanish Brethren at the beginning of April at the encouragement of the Global Mission and Service office and my congregation, I observed the celebration of eight church leaders graduating from a biblical training course that had been held over the last several years. A few students gave testimony of how the studying drew them closer to God and gave them a greater understanding of the Bible and the church. Each graduate received a certificate and a gift of more books to continue their spiritual growth. It was a powerful experience to be part of prayer for these gifted leaders.
After meeting with a variety of church projects in the towns of Madrid, Leon, Oviedo, Aviles, and Gijon, I became convinced that the church is alive and well. Under the capable leadership of Santos and Rafael Terrero, the mother church, La Luz en Las Naciones, is committed to reaching out to the lost and hurting in the community and cultivating relationships with groups interested in becoming Brethren. We can join with them in this God-ordained vision by casting our vote to include these groups officially as part of the Church of the Brethren this summer at Annual Conference.
I was so challenged by the Spanish Brethren determination to carry out the mission of bringing more to Christ in a post-Christian nation–where many do not have time for God–while also providing immigrants with both practical assistance to help them adjust to a new country in a difficult economy and a place to worship and grow in their faith. I was inspired by their warm fellowship and hospitality and will not soon forget their kindness.
— Carolyn Fitzkee is a member of Chiques Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa., and a Global Mission Advocate for Atlantic Northeast District.