Area Secretary, Europe

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4. The Seminary4
The renewed buildings in El Escorial include the seminary, student residence, Ponce de la Fuente, and El Castillo, a 16th century town house. The site also includes La Chimenea, the building once used to fire the glass for the Monastery of San Lorenzo of El Escorial. The original seminary was opened in 1884 by Federico Fliedner and continued to teach students during the long years of religious persecution of Protestants in Spain. In 1992 it was re-founded and in 2002 it moved to El Escorial. It is a non-profit making centre for leadership formation. Its vision is to serve the Church of the Spanish-speaking world. It bases its ministry on two main pillars that are especially important for the creation of a high quality teaching institution in a Hispanic context:

  1. Academically sound programmes taught by properly qualified teachers; and

b. A teaching approach that enables wide access, and integration of the

academic, practical and spiritual aspects of training.

Currently there are 111 students studying for the BA Theology degree and 6 full-time residential, all from South America. The degree is accredited by the University of Gloucestershire, Open Theological College (OTC). However this will end this summer due the University of Gloucestershire stopping the BA in theology and not having a Spanish-speaking staff member. Currently they are exploring other options like the Open University. At this moment in time they can only gain accreditation for their degrees outside the country due to all Spanish Universities with theological departments being Roman Catholic. They will not accredit degrees gained in Protestant institutions. However, there is now a draft bill before the Spanish Parliament. If passed it will enable a Protestant faculty to apply for official recognition of its degrees. The claim I heard was that up to 1978 there had only been seven years of religious freedom since the Reformation.
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