Two openings in Spain last month marked what Protestant leaders in that country believe could be a new era for “Spain’s persecuted minority.” One opening was of the first evangelical bookstore to operate with government permission, and the other was of the last church that had been closed by government order.

The bookstore—small by American standards, but very neat and ultra-modern—was opened in Barcelona May 24 with a dedication attended by most of the city’s evangelical leaders. It was the climax of thirteen years of work and prayer by Harold Kregel, a missionary from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who is in Spain under the European Worldwide Fellowship.

Speaker for the dedication was Dr. Jose Cardona, executive secretary of the Evangelical Defense Committee, through whose efforts—a year of constant work—government permission for the store was obtained.

Cardona explained that while some stores have previously sold evangelical books, they were not considered evangelical bookstores. The difference, he said, was one of basic representation rather than the kind of books sold.

Both Cardona and Kregel were almost ecstatic about display windows and the sign over the door. “Only a Spaniard can appreciate what this has cost us,” Cardona said. “It is more significant than you can possibly imagine.”

Before the erection of this lone sign with the words “Libreria Evangelica” on it, no public expression of any sort had been allowed for anything Protestant. This sign had required the special permission of three officials in Madrid—the minister of government, the minister of foreign affairs, and the minister of information and tourism.

Before coming to Barcelona for the dedication of the bookstore, Cardona had gone from his office in Madrid down to Chiclana de Segura to open the church there that had been closed for fifteen years. This was the last of more than fifty churches that had been sealed by government order.

That peak year was just five years ago, but the number of churches officially closed does not tell the whole story. About 80 per cent of those that were open did not have government permission and could have been closed at any time. This figure is now down to about 30 per cent, Cardona says, and he is confident that ultimately he will get a government permit for every church.

Cardona, who has been working on legal recognition for Spanish evangelicals for twelve years, lists three factors as contributing to the present relaxed climate:

1. Protestants have been united in their appeals to the government through the Evangelical Defense Committee. “Before this committee was formed five years ago, the government was never sure when it was dealing with recognized Protestants,” Cardona says.

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“While the government avoids the words ‘religious liberty,’ it does want Protestant churches to ‘operate normally.’ This means they can get a permit to function, can change their location, can import books and literature as well as print them for the specific needs of their congregations,” Cardona explains.

These liberties do not apply to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Scientists, and other sects, he says, for they are not recognized by the Protestants.

2. There are ministers in the government today who want a liberalization in church matters. They feel Spain must align herself with the prevailing attitudes in other European countries.

3. The encyclical declarations of Pope John XXIII produced a new mentality in some leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Spain. Cardona says the progressives and conservatives are divided, and this division has been beneficial to the evangelical cause.

Cardona feels that under Pope Paul the cause of religious liberty in Spain has regressed rather than progressed. He explains it this way: “Because Pope Paul has not aligned himself strongly with the proponents of religious liberty, the Spanish hierarchy believes the Vatican Council will not pass that schema.”

The government, he says, is waiting to see what the council decides and will adopt the position of the council whether the Spanish hierarchy favors it or not.

This forty-three-year-old champion of liberty firmly believes that whatever happens at the next session of the council, Spain can never go back to what it was. But neither does he believe full liberty will come overnight.

“There is too much prejudice against Protestants on the part of the average Spaniard which must be overcome,” he says.

Cardona lists three handicaps against which evangelicals in Spain must struggle. First is the feeling that Protestantism is a political movement, a charge that dates back to the Spanish Civil War. The second is the small number of Protestants—a maximum of 30,000 in the entire evangelical community, out of a total population of 31 million. He feels they can have a real influence on the country only as they grow. Finally he lists the outside support that most of the churches still receive. This gives credence to the charge of the hierarchy that Protestantism is a foreign religion with no roots in Spain.

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Protestant Panorama

Committees representing the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada reported agreement on essential elements of faith and order for a union of the two denominations. A fifteen-page report, “Principles of Union,” indicated that the committee is ready to present a merger plan to the legislative assemblies of the two churches. The plan would climax twenty-two years of on-again, off-again negotiations.

A joint working relationship will be established between the United Church Board for World Ministries (United Church of Christ) and the division of world mission of the United Christian Missionary Society of the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ). “This action may logically lead to union of the two boards,” said Dr. Alford Carleton, executive vice-president of the UCBWM.


Latin America Evangelist was named periodical of the year by Evangelical Press Association. Among other awards was one given to the Baptist Record for an editorial, “Smoke over Mississippi,” which had also been cited by Associated Church Press.

Special religious events at the New York World’s Fair this summer will include “Word of Life Day” on June 19 and “Wycliffe Day” on July 28. The June 19 feature will include an evangelistic rally with Jack Wyrtzen at the Singer Bowl.


Dr. Wayne Dehoney was re-elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Horace L. Fenton, Jr., was named to succeed the late Dr. R. Kenneth Strachan as general director of the Latin America Mission.

The Rev. Ralph Norman Mould was named general secretary of the World Council of Christian Education and Sunday School Association. He will succeed the retiring Rev. Nelson Chappel on January 1, 1966.

Dr. H. Wilbert Norton of Wheaton College was hospitalized in Göttingen, Germany, following a traffic accident in which he and a missionary friend were injured.

Norman B. Rohrer succeeded Larry Ward as executive secretary of Evangelical Press Association.

They Say

“We will go down in history today as the institution which put the hood on backwards when it conferred its first honorary degree.”—President D. Ray Hostetter of Messiah College, after a faux pas in bestowing the doctorate on former President Eisenhower.

“According to Protestant thought, the medieval church became deformed in the popular sense of the word when it no longer conformed to its essential principle of fidelity to a divinely revealed Word of God. But modern Protestantism is becoming deformed in the philosophical sense (losing its form [forma], its internal structural principle which gives it its distinctive character) because it is not merely out of conformity with the principle of fidelity to a divinely revealed Word of God, but it has surrendered it entirely, even rejected it on principle.”—The Rev. Harold O. J. Brown, minister to students at Park Street Church, Boston, in an article in National Review.

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