Church service

Our history

In September 1985 the Dutch pastor Peter Sluimer and his Swiss wife Marianne came to the Algarve to start the first English-speaking evangelical church in the south of Portugal. They rented an apartment at the small hotel "Casa Branca" in Vale Judeu off the EN125. A month later, on Sunday 27 October, "The International Evangelical Church of the Algarve" was born in the living room of the Portuguese owners of this family hotel, Ezequiel and Antônia Ferreira. Present were eleven adults and ten children. Among them were Portuguese, Americans, Englishmen, a Scotsman and the pastor's family which already consisted of three nationalities (including their adopted Brazilian son). So, right from birth the church displayed its international character.

In May 1986 the church moved its Sunday services to a restaurant on the way from Quarteira to Loulé, called "O Carcavai". For a year the growing congregation welcomed ex pats and tourists to this small and intimate place. Soon the church outgrew its surroundings.

In the Spring of 1987 the Swiss "Algarve Mission" with which the Sluimers have worked in the Algarve, was able to buy an old farm - with stables and 7000sq m of land attached to it - in Vale Judeu. The beautiful setting of these hundred years old run-down premises lent itself exquisitely for the establishment of an international church centre.

Already in the week before Whit Sunday 1987 the congregation celebrated its first service within the dilapidated walls of the farm. That was an unforgettable experience for this small church community. From then on many memorable events rapidly followed each other. In December 1987 the pastor's family moved into a restored part of the farm and set up their home there. They opened up their renovated living-room to the Sunday services which often spilled over into the garden as the available space inside soon became too small. Then Pastor Peter conducted the services from the door into the garden so that he could speak to those sitting inside and outside. A covering awning protected the "outsiders" against the heat of the sun. Many present day visitors still speak nostalgically of these early days.

Of course, such kind of half in-/half outside services had no real future. Since July 1990 the congregation met in a marquee behind the farm and in October 1993 they were able to move into the lovely purpose-built church building, erected on the premises with the financial help of the congregation and its many friends from all over the world.

After retiring from the ministry in Portugal Peter & Marianne moved to the the village of Montgaugh in the French Pyrenees where they lived for 5 years. In 2014 they moved back to Marianne's homeland in Switzerland and now live in the village of Beatenberg near Interlaken.

In August 2008, Mark and Judith Loney and their two daughters moved to Vale Judeu from V.N. Milfontes in the Alentejo, where they had been pastoring a Portuguese church for over 13 years, and in October, Mark was inducted as the new pastor of IECA. Both Mark and Judith are natural of Northern Ireland (UK), although Mark, of missionary parents, was brought up in Brazil. Judith, a musician, has her own ministry in the church and in supporting Mark in his pastoral ministry. We look to the past with gratitude for all that God has accomplished through Peter and Marianne, and our prayer is that through the leadership of our new pastor, God will do many more great things for His glory in the days to come.

Statement of faith - our beliefs

The Scriptures
As believers, we believe that “all Scripture is inspired by God,” written by men who “were moved by the Holy Spirit” to write the very words of Scripture. We believe that this encompasses all Scripture both Old and New Testament. We believe that all Scripture has as its centre story the Lord Jesus Christ, His person and work along with His first and second coming. We also believe that all the Scriptures were designed for our practical instruction.

The Godhead
We believe that the Godhead is triune ie. it exists eternally in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—and that these three are one God, having precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections, and worthy of precisely the same worship and obedience. Man, Created and Fallen. We believe that man was originally created in the image and after the likeness of God, and that he fell through sin, and, as a consequence of his sin, lost his spiritual life, becoming dead in trespasses and sins, and that he became subject to the power of the devil. We also believe that this spiritual death, or total depravity of human nature, has been transmitted to the entire human race of man, the Man Christ Jesus alone being excepted; and hence that every child of Adam is born into the world with a nature which not only possesses no spark of divine life, but is essentially and unchangeably bad apart from divine grace.Salvation only through the complete work of Christ.
We believe that, because of man’s sinful fallen nature, it is impossible on ones own merit to enter the kingdom of God unless one is born again. We believe that our redemption has been accomplished solely by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was made to be sin, dying in our place so that in Him we may become His righteousness. We believe that the new birth of the believer comes exclusively through faith in Christ alone through repentance.

The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, is a person and not a force and dwells in every believer upon conversion, and by His baptism unites all believers to Christ in one body. He is the source of all power and all acceptable worship and service, restraining evil in the world to the measure of the divine will, convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, regenerating all believers sealing them to the day of redemption. Until then, His continued work is to fill and equip every believer for service and a life that glories the Father.

The Church
We believe that all who are united in Christ are members of the church which is the body and bride of Christ. We believe that by the same Spirit all believers in this age are baptised into, and therefore become, one body that is Christ’s, no matter what race, tongue or culture, also becoming members one of another, solemnly keeping the duty of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, loving one another with a pure heart.

Ordinances
We believe that water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only sacraments and ordinances of the church and that they are a scriptural means of testimony for the church in this age.

The Christian Walk
We believe that every believer is called with a holy calling, to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, and thus live in the power of the indwelling Spirit. Seeing in this life that the flesh with its fallen nature is never eradicated, the Spirit remaining in us to the end of our earthly pilgrimage, needs to be constantly subjected to in Christ. The Christian’s Service We believe that every believer is bestowed enabling gifts by the Spirit. While there is a diversity of gifts, each believer is energised by the same Spirit, and each is called to his own divinely appointed service as the Spirit may will. We believe also that today some men are especially called of God to be evangelists, pastors and teachers, and that it is to the fulfilling of His will and to His eternal glory that these shall be sustained and encouraged in their service for God. The Great Commission We believe that it is the clear and direct message of our Lord Jesus Christ to those whom He has saved that they are sent by Him into the world. We also believe that, after one is saved, they are divinely appointed to be related to this world as strangers and pilgrims, ambassadors and witnesses, and that their primary purpose in life should be to make Christ known to the whole world.

Our culture

International
A congregation of many nations joined together with the purpose of worshipping God and fellowshipping with one another. Our backgrounds and races are diverse but we are united as a local assembly of God’s people, seeking to honour Him and serve one another in the way Christ taught. Sunday morning services are in English and translated simultaneously into Portuguese (translation into German is also available on request). This way, the church is able to open its doors to those who would have difficulty following the English service. What unites this community of Portuguese, foreign residents and tourists—in spite of all its colourful diversity—is their love for Jesus Christ.

Evangelical
We are an interdenominational fellowship of Christians who accept the Bible as God’s absolute authority over our lives and church. Although we are not affiliated to any specific evangelical denomination, we consider ourselves to be part of the spiritual worldwide family of God’s people. Our message is one of seeking to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and teaching the whole Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God.

Church
We see our gatherings primarily as an opportunity for Christians to worship God collectively as the family of God, receive spiritual nourishment through the teaching of the Bible and provide an opportunity for Christian service in the form of caring for one another as Christ himself taught us to do.

Algarve
There is a large, English-speaking, expatriate community living across the Algarve who have left their families and local churches and need a spiritual home while living overseas. It is our desire to develop a family atmosphere where these expatriates can feel welcome and loved. We recognize that the Algarve is also made up of Portuguese nationals and a large Portuguese-speaking expatriate community who also need to hear the message of the Gospel and belong to a local Christian community. We praise God for our Portuguese brothers and sisters who worship with us and in recent years the numbers have grown to the point that we have a weekly Portuguese language Sunday service and other activities in Portuguese that take place throughout the week. We also have the great privilege of receiving holiday-makers who come from all over the world to enjoy the beauty of the Algarve at various times of the year and many also seek out a local church where they can worship and receive spiritual nourishment while on holiday.

If you are visiting the Algarve, or live here permanently, we would love you to join with us and further enrich the international aspect of our services. It is our prayer that God will use your visit to bless and encourage you.

Eldership team

We are grateful for God’s provision of a spiritual leadership team here at IECA that provide the spiritual and pastoral support to the pastors and the congregation as a whole. They are as follows:
Mark Loney - Teaching Elder/Pastor for English Speaking Congregation
Barry Henry - Teaching Elder/Pastor for Portuguese Speaking Congregation
Stuart Kemsley
Malcolm Gordon
John Wicks.

The church council

The following are members of the IECA’s non profit religious association who have been elected by its members to administer the finances and property of IECA on their behalf:
Mark Loney
Barry Henry
Glenn Bowden
Isabel Ferreira - Treasurer (Administrator)
Barbara Jane Banks

Membership

Everyone is welcome to attend our services and it is our desire that newcomers quickly feel at home and make IECA their spiritual home here in the Algarve. There is no official membership required to be part of our church therefore, anyone who attends our church on a regular basis and shows themselves to be a true Christian through their confession of faith and accompanying lifestyle, will automatically be considered a member of our church fellowship and welcome get involved in the general rota duties that help make our church function from week to week. However, according to our constitution, for anyone to head up a ministry role in our church, or have a more active part in the ministry, it is required that they become a voting member of the non-profit religious association (that is the legal entity that runs the ministry of IECA). To become a voting member of IECA, it is first necessary to be attending the church for a minimum period of one year. They need to read, agree with and abide by the constitution of IECA and submit a letter of recommendation from their former church (Pastor or Elder). An application for membership is to be submitted to the Church Administrator (Isabel Ferreira) and then the Pastor and another Elder will arrange to meet to discuss the process of becoming a voting member.

Please note - If you are new to our church and wondering if you should make this your spiritual home, we would encourage you to take the time to familiarise yourself with the history of our church through the book - the Village On the Hill. Available at the church entrance. This book will help you understand the background to this particular fellowship giving you a clearer understanding of the general ethos and vision behind this ministry. If you would like a copy of our constitution you can request this from the Church Administrator. We understand that this church and its vision will not be “everyone’s cup of tea” and perhaps what you find here, is not what you initially expected. We are not a perfect church by any means, but what you will experience here has a long history and there are meaningful contextual and spiritual reasons why we do what we do and the way we do it. Our Identity is defined clearly in our name - International, Evangelical, Church, of the Algarve. It is imperative for the wellbeing and unity of the fellowship that everyone who begins to integrate into church life, understands that we will not be changing the type of ministry, belief, constitution or format of services to suit a particular individual’s idea of what this church should look like. The God ordained leadership of IECA wait only on the Holy Spirit to lead us if any change is necessary and required in order to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the context in which God has placed us.