Anabautistas, Menonitas y Hermanos en Cristo de España

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Anabautistas, Menonitas y Hermanos en Cristo de España





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This group, based in Spain, ...


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       The first seeds of Anabaptist activity in Spain were planted by Mennonite missionaries who began to do relief work in Spain in the 1930's, in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. These workers included Levi Hartzler, D. Parke Lantz, Lester Hershey, and Clarence Fretz. Some of their relief work efforts included distributing food to refugees and working with orphaned children or mothers with young children. According to Mennonite missionary John Driver, the Spanish people they worked with appreciated that the Mennonites offered help “without trying to start a religious empire.” 

In the 1950's and 60's, David and Wilma Shank worked as Mennonite Board of Missions missionaries in Brussels, Belgium. There they ministered to a group of Spanish expatriates living in Brussels. In 1974 John and Bonny Driver were sent by the Mennonite Board of Missions to work with the developing group of Spanish Mennonites in Brussels, who then moved back to Spain in order to establish Christian renewal groups. John describes these early groups in Spain as “radical Christian communities.” They focused on a “radical vision of alternative church history” embodied by the Anabaptist theological perspective, including a believers' church ecclesiology and ethic of peace. Some of John's mission work included teaching at various Bible institutes affiliated with the Evangelical Alliance in Spain, writing theological works, and encouraging the Spanish conscientious objector movement, which no other denominational group at that time had dared to do. Bonny's activities included volunteering at the Evangelical Hospital in Barcelona, attending a local church women's group, and homemaking and hospitality to members of the growing Christian community. By 1977 Mennonites in Spain had formed a “community of witness and service in Barcelona.” The community began several outreach programs, including a drug rehabilitation center, a prison ministry, and a hospice for victims of AIDS. Soon after, in 1978, José Gallardo moved from Brussels to Burgos and became a leader of the radical Christian community developing there, beginning a drug rehabilitation center. Another drug rehab center was founded by the Christian community of Burgos in Brieva, a restored mining village in the mountains, in 1980. In 1985 even more church outreach organizations were created; the Christian community in Barcelona founded a nursing home, Hogar de Paz, and former drug addicts and prison inmates who had become Mennonites began a prison ministry. According to Driver, “in this emerging network of radical groups across northern Spain, worship and work were combined in a way that made them true communities in mission.” Increasingly throughout the 1980's Spaniards began to take on more leadership in their Christian communities. In addition to José Gallardo, José Luis and Gabriela Suarez also moved from Brussels to take on leadership roles in the Barcelona community. Dennis and Connie Byler began serving in Spain with MBM in 1981, teaching theology, preaching, leading worship, and pastoring in the Burgos church. The 1980's saw expansion and more concrete links between different congregations. In 1985 the Burgos Christians began another church fellowship in Gamonal, an area of high crime and unemployment in Burgos. In 1989 three Christian congregations in Burgos joined together to form the United Christian Fellowships of Burgos. During the 1990's Dennis Byler began to phase out of direct pastoral leadership as the Spanish leadership team began to take more responsibility. However, the Bylers are still active in the network of Mennonite churches in Spain. In 2006 Brian and Noelia Fox began to work with the Burgos Mennonite Church through Mennonite Mission Network, working especially with youth.

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