Lusitanian Church of Portugal
(Igreja Lusitana Católica Apostólica Evangélica)
After the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in Portugal in 1834, there was a measure of religious freedom. A former Spanish priest who had fled to Great Britain and had been received in the Church of England, came to Portugal in 1839 and started a small Christian community, which used the Anglican liturgy in Portuguese. Their chapel was closed in 1870. In 1868, another Spanish priest who had been received in the Episcopal Church in the USA, started a congregation in Lisbon along the lines of the Episcopal Church. This congregation acquired official status under the name of Igreja Evangelica Espanhola. Services were conducted according to the American version of the Book of Common Prayer of 1789. At a synod in 1880, presided by a bishop of the American Episcopal Church, a constitution was approved in accordance with the doctrinal and liturgical traditions of the Anglican communion. In the same year a second non-Roman Catholic community in Gaia, near Oporto, was admitted. In 1951, yet another group of independent Evangelical churches joined the Lusitanian Church. Since 1963 the church has been in full communion with the Church of England on the same basis as the Old-Catholic churches. Since 1980 the metropolitan authority over the church has rested with the archbishop of Canterbury.
As a way of witnessing to the love of Jesus , the Lusitanian Church has been promoting a ministry of service to under-privileged groups through two institutions: the Torne and Prado School's Association, in Vila Nova de Gaia, which provides social services to 150 children in a day nursery, a kindergarten and a spare-time after-school schedule; the social centre of Sagrada Familia, near Lisbon, which has a day-care centre for elderly people from an area with many social problems, and where 100 meals a day are provided plus 20 distributed to sick and lonely people at their homes. The former priest of the parish of Sagrada Familia promoted the building of 40 houses for people who were living in a slum. Since 1999, the church is also involved in a new mission with Angolan expatriates who came to Portugal to escape the war situation in their country. Some families joined the church. The mission of the church is also developed by youth and women. Besides seminars and retreats on pertinent issues, the Lusitanian Church youth department which is very alive and committed, organizes also summer camps for children and young people. The women's department also plays an important role, awakening the women to their responsibilities and presence in the parishes and in the church as a whole and providing support for some poor families.
The Lusitanian Church is one of the three founding churches of the Portuguese Council of Christian Churches and takes part regularly in ecumenical and inter-confessional meetings involving the Roman Catholic Church, the PCCC and the Portuguese Evangelical Alliance. It has signed the Porvoo Agreement.