Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church
(Iglesia Española Reformada Episcopal, IERE)
This church was founded in 1868 when a group of priests from the Roman Catholic Church, refugees in Gibraltar, adopted the model of the early Spanish church. The first bishop was elected at a synod held in Seville in 1880. He was consecrated by bishops of the Church of Ireland in 1894. The church developed quickly, mainly in rural areas, and became very popular in central and north-west Spain, with an important social programme and a large number of schools. During the Civil War of 1936-39 the church suffered greatly. The persecution lasted during most of General Franco's dictatorship. No formal ceremonies other than those of the Roman Catholic Church were permitted. Only after the Second Vatican Council and the law on religious liberty in 1967 did the church have true freedom of worship. The church is a full member of the Anglican Communion under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Canterbury.
The church is organized in three areas or deaneries, each under the direction of an archdeacon. The national synod is made up of ministers and lay people in equal numbers. Each minister in charge of a congregation has a vote. Lay people participate in the work of the church as readers, catechists, etc. The Book of Common Prayer contains the divine services of the church. The order of worship is the old liturgy of Spain called Mozarabic, the one used in the Iberian peninsula before the Roman rite was imposed.
The life of the church today is full of opportunities; it has departments for youth, women, ecumenism, Christian education, mission and evangelization. The church has also a very important social programme with immigrants, which is active in many parishes. Through this programme over 10,000 people a year are helped with clothing and food.
The church has an agreement of full communion with the Old-Catholic Union of Utrecht and has signed the Porvoo Agreement, establishing full communion with the Lutheran churches in the Nordic and Baltic countries.