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The History of the Baptists in Italy


The Baptist Christian Evangelical Union

The Baptist Christian Evangelical Union was constituted in 1956. From this moment begins the process which brought about the definite cultural, theological and economical independence from the American Mission. Since after the war until today the Baptist churches have lived through other crises that marked their development. On one hand, emigration for economic motives badly hit the churches, above all, those in Southern Italy, from the 50's and after. The churches affected by this continual loss of members were unable to fill the gap existing between the generations. In other cases, one or two generations were lost and the churches suffered a serious crisis of survival.

On the other hand, the economic miracle and the access to the public schools on the part of everybody provoked a different crisis. Some people have defined it a conventional outlook of the churches. In the churches the number of people with diplomas and degrees increased as well as professionals and the well-being of the members. This altered the typical physiognomy of the popular Baptist churches of the first phase. The ethical, moral rigour changed, evangelising stopped, the ecclesiastical activities changed form and content. The churches experienced without efficacious mediation, critical and rationalistic solicitations, both political and social, for which they were not ready. There followed a difference of opinions among the old generation, the emerging conventionally-minded generation and the generation of young people in ferment due to the illusions of 1968. The climate that was created was devastating for the churches which were not ready for the process of secularization.

Recuperation and relaunching of the Baptist churches took place from the end of the 70's until today. A complete independence from the American Mission was reached. The Union was reorganized on the basis of solidarity among the churches. An efficacious Plan of Cooperation was established to unite the economic resources of the churches so as to favour the development of the weaker churches. A Confession of faith was elaborated and regulation and organization were re-elaborated. Finally, in 1995, an agreement with the Italian State was signed and a complete economic independence was reached.