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The rich legacy of Protestant schools in Barcelona

Historical images of schools founded by Protestant churches have been presented in Barcelona. "They stood out for their innovative teaching methods”,  organisers say.

FUENTES Protestante Digital AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus BARCELONA 26 DE MAYO DE 2022 12:55 h
A group of students at the school founded by the Methodists in the Clot neighbourhood in 1936. / Courtesy of Iglesia Evangélica Clot.

Protestantism left an essential influence on the development of the history of the Spanish city of Barcelona with institutions such as the Nou Hospital Evangèlic and the Iglesia Evangélica de Gràcia and figures such as the missionary George Lawrence.

The schools and educational centres founded by Protestant churches and congregations also had a great influence on the territorial expansion of the city before the Civil War.

The Evangelical Church of Belen, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, remembered this part of history with the screening of the documentary 'Protestants: the silenced history', focusing on the relevance that the churches with schools had for the city.

[photo_footer] Detail of a 1902 photograph of a group of pupils at the Evangelical school for girls in the Poblenou neighbourhood / courtesy of the Archive of the former Methodist churches in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. [/photo_footer] 

During the event, in addition to a colloquium focused on the promotion of education by the Protestant communities in Barcelona, they also showed some images that illustrate this historical period.



“Innovative teaching methods”

The creators of the documentary and organisers of the meeting stressed the importance of those schools, which “were open to the entire population, and not only for Protestant believers”, in the city's literacy.

[photo_footer] Image from 1900 showing students from the Evangelical school in Carrer Ferlandina / Arxiu Gràfic Documental Evangèlic. [/photo_footer] 

“They stood out for their innovative teaching methods for the time and, according to several historians, they had the complicity of Republican movements and freethinkers”, they add.

Partly for this reason, many of them had to close due to the governmental order that was imposed on the city after the fall of those movements, towards the end of the Civil War.

Among the schools mentioned were those founded by Methodists in the Ciutat Vella, Clot and Poblenou neighbourhoods.

[photo_footer] The building of the evangelical school located on Carrer Riera de Sant Miquel, in the district of Gràcia, in the 1920s / Arxiu Gràfic Documental Evangèlic. [/photo_footer] 

The Assemblies of Brethren also had centres in Ciutat Vella and Gràcia, and the Baptists founded a school in Gràcia in the 1920s. During Franco's dictatorship, the authorities seized the premises of this centre.


Other schools in Catalonia

The schools founded by Protestants were not only located in Barcelona, there is evidence of this activity in several places throughout Catalonia.

[photo_footer] Picture from 1925 showing a student at the evangelical school in Rubí. / First Protestant Church of Rubí./ Arxiu Gràfic Documental Evangèlic. [/photo_footer] 

For example, the school that the Methodists opened in Rubí, or those of the Anglicans in Sabadell and Monistrol de Montserrat.

The Baptists also established educational centres in Figueres, Vilabertran and Llançà, the Presbyterians in Reus and the Assemblies of Brethren in Caldes de Montbui, among others.




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