Who We Are
Torre Del Mar Presbyterian Church
Today Torre del Mar Presbyterian is a fellowship of believers who meet on a weekly basis in Legends bar, in Torre. The congregation was established in 1987 as a partnership between the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Spanish Evangelical Church and it continued in this arrangement until the partnership practicalities ended in 2017.
Since then and following a period of transition, up until mid 2018, the congregation has continued and has been slowly forming other partnerships with other local congregations, including the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Malaga, Velez-Malaga Evangelical Fellowship, (both Spanish speaking) and more locally with St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Torre. We have also some informal links with Missionaries from Serge, a Reformed Mission Organisation working in Rincon de la Victoria.
We remain Presbyterian in church government, and ethos (you can read a little of what it means to be Presbyterian below) but have decided not to have a membership as the focus of our time together remains on Jesus, not on denominational peculiarities. Anyone from any denomination is welcome to worship with us and we have continued to draw people from across the denominational spectrum.
What does it mean to be Presbyterian?
Today Presbyterians value the Celtic roots that nourished and continue to renew Scottish Christianity, but the beginnings of Presbyterianism itself was the Reformation in Europe. Particularly important were the influence of the Swiss Reformers Zwingli and Calvin and the Scots leader John Knox.
John Calvin, although French, is closely associated with Geneva, where his thinking on belief, community, ministry and how the Christian faith should impact the world were developed. Issues for the Reformers were the authority of the Bible over the church and a simplification of worship more in line with the New Testament, than the church structures of their day. The Reformers emphasised the centrality of Jesus and the word of God, believing that each person could stand before God and claim forgiveness and help in the name of Jesus alone. The Church defined itself by the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, by the free preaching of the Word of God, and by discipline – a way of life that reflected the Lordship of Christ not only over the Church and over the individual, but also over society.
In a reformed church structure, elders were appointed for pastoral care and to ensure that people were able to pray and follow a Christian lifestyle. Ministers met together to study the bible. Together ministers and elders worked to call people into ministry and mission, and encourage each other. Baptism was for the children of believers, as well as for believers themselves. Education and poor relief were ways of making it possible for people to live the Christian life.
While the Church is the interpreter of the Bible, the Reformation placed the Bible in authority over the Church. Study and education became more important, but the concept of being able to earn God’s favour was firmly rejected John Knox, a follower of Calvin’s school of thought, is regarded as the father of the Scottish Reformation, which occurred in 1560 when Scotland repudiated the papacy and re-established the Church along reformed lines.
Then and now…
Much has changed in the 500 years since then, but many of these values underpin the Presbyterianism of today. The key message remains that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. Our understanding of God and of how we live and worship continues to be tested by our reading of Scripture and how we bring it into a world very different to that of Calvin and still be relevant to the societies around us. Decisions are made by a hierarchy of Church courts rather than individual leaders, as a safe guard against the abuse of spiritual power.
During the 17th century, Reformed Churches took root in other continents and came to dominate the colonisation of the New World.
The congregation in Torre has had many expressions over the 30 years of its existence. It has sought to adapt to the changing nature of the community around it and today, has a form which seeks to place an emphasis on “church” as “community” and “disciple” as “learner”. An interactive service has become the norm since 2015 which seeks to incorporate these two elements and gives those attending the chance to ask about and explore together themes related to the text being examined. Presbyterianism has evolved, but not lost its Reformed roots or emphasis!