With a population of almost three million, and as the capital of the nation and of Roman Catholicism, the significance of Rome for Italy and for global religion cannot be overstated. Read this heartwarming story of gospel growth in Rome from a small church plant with big plans for the future.

Right in the centre of Rome, the Chiesa Evangelica San Lorenzo (San Lorenzo Evangelical Church) celebrated its fifth birthday last year. Originally from Brazil, the church’s leaders Rene and Sarah Breuel have been in Italy for many years, and the church has grown from a small plant from another church in Rome into an authentically Italian community, totally immersed in its locality and reaching out to its many neighbours. During these first five years, the church family has been wonderfully encouraged by seeing 50 people come to know Jesus, 35 of whom have been baptised into the church. It has also been a season of growth in maturity for the church, and they have big plans for the coming years.

During these first five years, the church family has been wonderfully encouraged by seeing 50 people come to know Jesus.

San Lorenzo is a highly strategic location for a gospel-focussed church. Evangelicals make up just 0.6% of the population of Italy, with many churches in Rome itself established on the outskirts of the city where living costs are lower, rather than in the very expensive centre. This leaves the centre largely unreached by gospel churches – a centre which includes the 140,000 students at Sapienza, one of the largest universities in Europe. The Chiesa Evangelica San Lorenzo is within walking distance of Sapienza, as well as being strategically placed to reach young professionals who work in the city. With a strategic vision for the area, a committed and energetic core of members and a dedicated leadership, the church had just about doubled in size during its first five years, with numbers hovering above a hundred members, and had outgrown its venue.

The church is now meeting in a local theatre which can seat 180, making room for the family to grow in coming years. They have added to their staff team, renamed and relaunched as Hopera – named after the venue – and prayerfully hope to double in size again over the next five years. With planting in their DNA (they’ve already planted one new church in Perugia, central Italy, back in 2014), they plan to plant seven new churches in Rome and beyond by 2025. This is all done in collaboration with other local churches, City to City, and with the support of the Europe Collaboration, one of Union’s key partners.

Rene says, "we invite you to build on the foundation the Lord has already laid in Rome. We believe the Lord will reach hundreds for him in Rome in the coming years, help us catalyse the beginning of new churches, and, as a flourishing congregation in central Rome, provide a compelling voice for Evangelicalism to Italian culture.” Please pray for this church to grow in love for Christ as they serve him together, and pray that the Lord might grant them continued growth in number and maturity over the coming years.

Italian speakers can read more about Hopera’s vision on their website www.hopera.co and watch their brilliant relaunch video here.

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