Mennonite presence in Portugal began spontaneously when a young Mozambican student in Lisbon, Miguel Anelo Jardim, happened upon David Augsburger's book, Free to Forgive. This book gripped Jardim to the point that he sought more information about Mennonites. He began corresponding with the London Mennonite Centre and Mennonites in Brazil. Jardim visited the Mennonites in Brazil and was baptized by Theo Penner in 1985.
Back in Portugal, Jardim began gathering a small group of like-minded people and this became the core of the new Mennonite church. The first official worship service was held on 31 August 1986, and a short time later the first three people were baptized.
There were over a million refugees in Portugal (1986) from former Portuguese colonies in Africa. In November 1985 Greet Lodder from The Netherlands (sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee and the International Mennonite Organization [IMO]) began working with African refugees at Amadora near Lisbon. Her work received spiritual assistance from the new Mennonite church. In July 1986 IMO and MCC began making plans to expand the project at Amadora to include small agricultural developments for the refugees. A West German television program telling the story of the church and the refugee work of Greet Lodder aired 4 April 1987.
The Mennonite Brethren decided in January 1986 to begin church planting in Loures, a suburb of Lisbon. The Mennonite Board of Missions (Mennonite Church), in the spring of 1987, investigated the possibility of mission work in the country. Efforts by IMO to coordinate the work of various conferences and agencies began in 1986.
Between 2000 and 2009 the following Anabaptist group was active in Portugal:
Brücke (October 1986): 151.
Mennonite Reporter (11 May 1987): 2.
Mennonite World Conference. "2000 Europe Mennonite & Brethren in Christ Churches." Web. 27 February 2011. http://www.mwc-cmm.org/Directory/2000europe.html.
Mennonite World Conference. "2003 Europe Mennonite & Brethren in Christ Churches." Web. 27 February 2011. http://www.mwc-cmm.org/Directory/2003europe.html.
Mennonite World Conference. "Europe." Web. 27 February 2011. http://www.mwc-cmm.org/Directory/2006europe.pdf.
Mennonite World Conference. "World Directory: Europe." Web. 13 June 2010..
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 717. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Sawatzky, Reynold. "Portugal." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2011. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/P6795.html.
APA style: Sawatzky, Reynold. (February 2011). Portugal. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/P6795.html.