Chiesa Evangelica Mennonita Italiana (Italian Mennonite Church)
Faith was born in Franca Ceraulo through reading a New Testament sent in a relief package to Palermo, (Sicily) Italy, by American friends. In 1949, Lewis Martin and Jason Weaver traveled to Europe in the interest of relief efforts by the Mennonite Church (MC). Franca's friends suggested they stop to visit her. On that occasion she requested baptism. Through Franca's dynamic testimony and leadership in the following years, a congregation began to emerge.
George R. Brunk III and his wife Erma were sent to Palermo in 1964 by the Virginia Mennonite Board of Missions (MC) as the first resident missionaries. Other missionaries to Italy in the 1960s were Paul and Naomi Lehman. They were primarily involved in a music ministry, producing music for an Italian radio broadcast, Parola di Vita (Word of Life). Elio Milazzo, an Italian pastor, was director and speaker on this broadcast from 1960 until 1980, when it was discontinued.
The period following 1970 marked the beginning of slow but steady expansion of the Mennonite witness with gradual buildup of missionary presence to four families. In 1987 there were five fellowship groups in the highly populated province of Palermo, three of which were led by Italian pastors—Francesco and Martha Picone, Francesco and Helen Sapienza. Several Italian lay assistants were preparing for ordination.
Since 1981 the Virginia Mennonite Board of Missions (VMBM) has related officially to the Italian Church through the ministerial council of Chiesa Evangelica Mennonita Italiana (CEMI). This council functions autonomously as the governing body of the Italian church, acting as a fraternal partner with Virginia Mennonite Board of Missions in evangelism, church planting, and leadership training. In 1987 the Mennonite Church was recognized only locally as a nonprofit religious association; however, application was being made for recognition at the national level.
In the earthquakes of 1976 (Friuli) and 1980 (Naples), Mennonite Central Committee participated with other European evangelical groups in emergency aid and rebuilding projects.
In 2009 the church had five congregations and 250 members.
Go Ye ... Presentation of Virginia Mennonite Board of Missions: 8-9.
Good, E. Richard. Enlarging the Borders. Virginia Mennonite Conference, 1985: 38-39.
Holding Forth the Word of Life. Virginia Mennonite Board of Missions, 1969: 31-36.
Kraybill, Paul N., ed. Mennonite World Handbook. Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1978: 300-302.
Mennonite World Conference. "World Directory: Europe." Web. 13 June 2010..
Mennonite World Handbook Supplement. Strasbourg, France, and Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1984: 121.
Virginia Mennonite Board of Missions. Missionary Light (1967-1987).
Website: Chiesa Evangelica Mennonita Italiana
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 136-137. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Eberly, Eva M. "Chiesa Evangelica Mennonita Italiana (Italian Mennonite Church) ." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2010. Web. 20 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/C46078.html.
APA style: Eberly, Eva M. (June 2010). Chiesa Evangelica Mennonita Italiana (Italian Mennonite Church) . Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/C46078.html.