The Committee, in printing their first report, think it advisable to give a short account of the establishment of the Spanish Evangelical Church in Lisbon, so that an appeal may be made to many friends who have not yet had an opportunity of giving their assistance to the work.
There have been for many years, in this city, both Portuguese and Spanish Protestants, who held their meetings in private, as no other religion but the Roman Catholic is publicly allowed by the laws of Portugal. No large congregation, however, had been formed under a pastor of the Episcopal Church until the arrival of the Rev. Angel Herreros de Mora, in 1867,--a Spaniard by birth, and formerly a priest of the Church of Rome, some years ago naturalized as a citizen of the United States of America, and received into the Episcopal Church at New York.
In 1868, a large room was rented for Protestant Divine worship; but here the meetings were frequently interrupted by men hired for the purpose by fanatics of the Church of Rome; and at length, the owners of the Room refused to let it any longer.--During this time, Mr. Mora received continual and hearty support, both from the Minister and the Consul of the United States; and the Committee desire now to tender their best thanks to those gentlemen for their valuable help. For two years, however, the members of the congregation were compelled to meet in private houses, as no suitable room could be found for united worship. During all this time, both Mr. Mora and the Church suffered many afflictions and trials; the former receiving his daily meals, first from one, and then from another of the members, almost all of them poor artisans and labourers.
In 1869, after liberty of conscience had been established in Spain, the Spanish members of the congregation drew up a petition to their ambassador, sr. Fernando de los Rios, asking him to give his sanction and support to the formation of a Spanish Protestant Church. He referred the matter to his government at Madrid; and ultimately, through his kind influence and help, the petition was granted, and the Church established under Spanish protection; all public acts performed in it, such as marriages, baptisms, &c. being now legally registered at the Spanish Consulate.
In 1870, a sort of barn, which had been used as a skittle-ground, was rented for 50$000 reis (£11. 2. 3.) yearly. In putting this into decent order, about £30 was spent; and on December 11 of the same year, Divine Service for Portuguese and Spanish Protestants was held for the first time in a public building duly fitted up for the purpose. The number of members present on this interesting occasion was about 160;-and on the same day, a Roman Catholic priest-the Rev. João José da Costa Almeida, formerly a Chaplain in the Portuguese Navy,--publicly renounced his former faith, and was received into the reformed Church.
In 1871, the Holy Communion was administered upon four occasions,--the largest number of communicants at a time being forty-seven. During this year another Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Henrique Ribeiro d'Albuquerque, was received into this Evangelical Church; both he and Mr. Almeida, however, were obliged to naturalize themselves as Spaniard previous to their recantation, as the law here severely punishes any priest, if a Portuguese subject, who leaves the Church of Rome. In 1871, there were three baptisms, one marriage, and one death.
There are now (1872) Night-schools and Sunday-schools attached to the Mission. These opened, in 1874, with 33 scholars of all ages and both sexes; but are now attended by 76 children, and 17 adults. The congregation has also much grown in number, the religious zeal of all is note-worthy, and the Portuguese Protestants (while anxiously looking forward to the time when freedom of conscience shall be by law established in their own land) gladly embrace this opportunity of worshipping in an Evangelical Church where the language is so similar to their own as to be perfectly intelligible. During this year, the Lord's supper was administered four times; on the last occasion there were 82 communicants. There were also six baptisms, and six marriages.
Thanks are due to the British and Foreign Bible Society, and to the Bible Society of New York, for grants of Bibles, &c., and to the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, for a grant of Prayer Books.-The German Colony here have lent very efficient aid to the good work; and the Committee feel very grateful to them, and to many other kind Christian friends, for their ready encouragement and aid.-They desire particularly to mention his Excellency Colonel Lewis, Minister of the United States, whose kind countenance and help have always been most readily given and have proved most valuable; and they wish also to tender their hearty thanks to Mr. Consul Diman for his unvarying kindness towards them.
In consequence of the great increase of the work, funds are required for a larger church, and for the support of the ministers who help Mr. Mora.
In conclusion, the Committee desire to return their most humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God, for whose glory in the salvation of souls the work was undertaken. They are able with gratitude to say: "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us"; and they are confident that He, whose blessing has already so largely rested upon the work, will continue His favour towards it, and make it the means of spreading the knowledge of the Saviour in this dead and darkened land.
DONATIONS AND SUBSCRIPTUIONS FOR THE SCHOOL AND CHURCH FUNDS,
THANKFULLY RECEIVED BY THE FOLLOWING FRIENDS, AND FORWARDED TO MR. JOHN STOTT HOWORTH, Treasurer,
128 RUA DA PRATA, LISBON
Rev. T. Godfrey P. Pope, H.B. M. Chaplain, Lisbon
Rev. T. A. L. Geaves Melcombe Regis, near Weymouth, Dorset
Rev. Edward Wynne, All-Saints' Vicarage, Hatcham Park, New Cross Road, London
Mr. Henry Wright, 62 Gracechurch Street, London