The country of Spain is part of Western Europe and is a very modern nation with a long history and rich culture. The tumultuous twentieth century saw Spain literally transformed: from dictatorship to democracy, from poverty to wealth and from religious persecution to rampant secularism. Interestingly enough, Spain only achieved full religious liberty with the death of General Franco in 1975 and its new national constitution in 1978.
In that same year of 1978 the C&MA entered Spain, sending its first workers to the city of Barcelona, and then later, to Valencia, 200 miles to the south. From those early days down to the present, our main focus in Spain has been sharing the Gospel and establishing local churches. For many years, the work was difficult and response was minimal.
Yet, ever so slowly, things moved forward and after several years of hard work, a small beachhead was established in Barcelona. At times it seemed like the old "three steps forward and two steps back." The church in Barcelona survived and grew, but after 14 years of ministry, the congregation in Valencia was closed. As late as 1999 and after more than 20 years of hard work by dozens of missionaries and nationals, our C&MA ministry in Spain consisted of only three small churches.
Finally the tide began to turn. In the year 2000, remarkably and quite suddenly, God began to open new doors for sharing the Gospel and planting churches. As late as the close of 1999 the total attendance for our three churches combined barely topped 200. Today, only fifteen years later, the Alliance family in Spain consists of 21 congregations, including several new church starts. Some 1,100 persons meet each Sunday to worship God in our C&MA churches throughout Spain.
So what has happened? Until recently Spain had very few immigrants, but now over 12 % of the population is non-Spaniard. With the year 2000 a growing tide of immigrants reached flood level. Hundreds of thousands of people began pouring into Spain each year, largely from Latin America. Some were already believers, but many others were simply immigrants very open to the Gospel. In a few short years they have swelled the numbers of virtually all evangelical churches in the country.
At the same time, our sister C&MA churches in Latin America and in Holland began sending new workers to Spain to help us. To date we have received several couples from Latin America and Holland. Combined with new workers from North America, our international team has greatly increased, from only 11 people in 1999 to over 30 today. Another key marker in the history of the C&MA in Spain has been the development of the Alliance National Church. In February 2007 the local Spanish Alliance churches approved a national structure and elected their first official national leaders. Over the past eight years a number of new churches have been started, especially in the area of Madrid.
Pastor Juan Zúñiga is the current president. (See photo at left.) This federation of churches has now obtained full legal status before the Spanish government as the C&MA National Church of Spain (known as the FIACME). Both national and expatriate missionary pastors continue working side by side as we seek to "live the call together" in sharing the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Another key development has been the of a seminary (INFORMA) which was launched in 2012 to prepare pastors and leaders for our churches. In the spring of 2016 a group of 15 students formed the first graduating class! All are already serving in their respective churches. Some 60 students continue to prepare for the ministry through classes offered in both Madrid and Barcelona, as well as the Canary Islands.Once a year pastors and delegates from our local Alliance congregations meet for an annual assembly, for business, worship and fellowship. The most recent national assembly was held in February of 2015 in the city of Barcelona. (See group photo below.)