Spanish Assemblies of God celebrate 60th anniversary
It is the evangelical denomination with the largest presence in Spain. Its annual congress was themed “In His Presence, towards greater things”.
Protestante Digital · GANDÍA · 07 MARCH 2023 · 16:00 CET
The Assemblies of God of Spain (ADE) held its 18th Congress, celebrating the 60th anniversary in the city of Gandía from 23 to 26 February.
Over 1,700 people from all over Spain and other countries gathered under the theme “In His Presence, towards greater things”. The congress featured devotionals, plenaries and workshops given by guest ministers.
Presented by Jacobo Bock and Amparo Benítez, the congress formally began on Thursday afternoon.
Argentinian pastor Osvaldo Carnival was the speaker for the opening session. His wife Alejandra was in charge of the Friday morning devotional, followed by a plenary by the President of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance, pastor Marcos Zapata.
Friday morning also included a youth program and three workshops: “Being church in a post-modern context”, “How to be parents in the face of ideological influence”, and “Autism and faith”.
In the afternoon, before the plenary by German Friedhelm Holthuis, three other workshops took place: “Anxiety, causes, consequences and freedom”, “Baptism in the Holy Spirit: optional or essential?”, and “Transforming discipleship” .
Today, with its 351 churches, 194 mission points and 47 pioneering works, in total almost 600 places of witness-, the Assemblies of God of Spain is the evangelical denomination with the greatest presence and territorial implantation in the country.
Before the plenary, the mayor of the city of Gandía, José Manuel Prieto, greeted the congress participants institutionally and congratulated them. “We are pleased to see that we can again normally celebrate this event [after the years of pandemic]”.
After him, there were more greetings from evangelical institutions, among others: Pedro Tarquis (news website Protestante Digital); Luis Fajardo (Bible Society); and Carolina Bueno, executive secretary of the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain (FEREDE).
Pastor Noemí Castro opened the Saturday morning with a devotional. She was followed by a time of testimonies and acknowledgements to older pastors and leaders, some of them already retired from formal responsibilities although active and sharing experience. “One retires from the office, but not from the burden”, said pastor Manuel Fernández (85 years old), from A Coruña.
The morning program concluded after an open session, in which they presented reports from the different departments (prayer, children, social action, youth, missions, evangelism, etc.) and explained the global initiative of the Assemblies of God, MM33.
In the afternoon, there were two plenary sessions. One by theologian Dadonim Vila, professor at the ADE Faculty of Theology, entitled “Pentecostal vs. Neo-Pentecostal”; and the other by Friedhelm Holthuis, entitled “Keys to the development of a model of a modern-day Pentecostal Church”.
Saturday's program finished with an evening of prayer after dinner, led by Pastor Osvaldo Carnival.
The closing worship service was held on Sunday morning, with the participation of the children and the presentation of certificates to graduating students of the ADE Faculty of Theology.
ADE President, pastor Juan Carlos Escobar, gave the last sermon in which he encouraged all in attendance by quoting the motto of the congress.
“Greater things are more men and women, more lives rescued, more disciples, more growth - it has nothing to do with being supremacist”, he said. The Holy Supper was then celebrated in an atmosphere of emotion and reverence.
Alternative programs and new officers
Plenary meetings, devotionals and workshops were the backbone of a Congress that also had side programmes for children and youth.
One of the highlights in this area was the partial renewal of the positions on the Board of Directors, with the inclusion of new officers who will share the position during this year with the incumbent officers, until the next Assembly in 2024 when they will take up their positions.
At the entrance of the place where the congress plenary sessions were held, several ministries offered their services, bibles, music, souvenirs, Christian literature and other resources. There was also a cafeteria service to provide refreshments during the breaks.
There were also moments for fellowship, anecdotes and glimpses into the past.
One of those was when the president of ADE and the former president and pastor, José María Baena, evoked a "chorus" from the times of the first meetings in the town of El Escorial ("when the accommodation was not like it is now, but where the joy of the Spirit and fraternal fellowship could overcome everything").
“We are celebrating with Jesus”, Escobar began to sing, and then gave the microphone to Pastor Baena, who continued in a loud voice, followed by a joyful choir of veteran men and women of God who, for a moment, seemed like those young Pentecostals of the first Assemblies of God gatherings.