The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) reported on Sept 13 that the first Lutheran Church established in Spain since the Spanish Inquisition “received legal recognition by the Spanish Government.” Through the recent act, the Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Española (IELE)became the first Spanish Lutheran Church to be recognized in 500 years.
The new history of Lutheranism in Spain began in 2000, with the profession of a family in Seville. Juan Carlos Garcia Cazorla, an aeronautical technician and former teacher of Catholic doctrine, his wife Ana, and their three children Eduardo, Irene and Diana, became the “first Lutheran Family in Seville nearly 500 years since the Inquisition extinguished the community that existed there.”
Following the confessions of the Cazorla family, the Argentinean Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELA) sent a missionary to help guide and build a stronger foundation of mission outreach in the nation.
In 2002, the IELA established the IELE – a church that now draws audiences from Madrid, Seville, Cantabria, Andalucia and Asturias. The IELE maintains a congregation in Asturias (North of Spain) and mission posts in Andalucía, Madrid and Catalonia. Several members of the church attend pastoral programs in order to provide the IELE with new pastors for the future.
The IELA began the mission effort to Spain with the financial and logistical partnership of the LCMS World Mission. Additionally, Dr. Arthur Just of Concordia Theological Seminary – the flagship seminary of the LCMS – played a large role in launching the missionary training initiative in Spain when the church began.
The IELE, like the LCMS, is a confessional church with solid Lutheran foundations and open to promote relationships with other confessional churches worldwide. Neither church is part of the 65 million member Lutheran World Federation, an ecumenical fellowship of Lutheran Churches worldwide.