Bulgarian Orthodox Church calls for abortion ban, compulsory religion in schools, no sex education

November 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, has called for a complete rewrite of the government’s National Strategy for the Child 2019-2030, urging a ban on terminations of pregnancy, for religion to be a compulsory subject in schools, no sex education, and opposing the full ban on corporal punishment in schools.

The strategy, which succeeds the 2008/2018 version, was posted for comment on the government’s strategy.bg website in January and closed for comments on February 8. The church posted its comments on the Patriarchate’s website and they were annexed to the strategy.bg website.

The church said a ban on termination of pregnancy would make it possible that “our society and in particular Bulgarian children will receive a new chance for full existence and blessed progress, and our society – an opportunity to overcome the demographic crisis”.

It said that termination could be allowed only if the mother was so severely ill as to make childbirth impossible or if the foetus was not viable “such as anencephaly (a child conceived without a head)”.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church also called for religion to become a compulsory subject in schools.

“Religious education in kindergartens and schools educates not only the minds but also the hearts of the smallest members of our society, which means that religious activities (in particular: Orthodox Christianity) reveal to children the sacred secret of this, that man is created in the image of God, and that to educate means to develop not only intellectually, but also to be perfected in faith, hope, love, charity and godliness.This is and should be the highest goal of any education, of any education-form, that man should be likened to the image of his Creator,” the church said.

The church said that quality education for all children would not be complete without compulsory religious education, with the option of “choice among several strands, depending on the views and religion of the family and the child”.

It opposed the idea of sex education at schools, insisting that “the younger generations are educated about the value of true love and not about sexuality that is taken out of the context of love”.

The church said that young people should be taught that the best contraceptive is abstinence, rather than “sexual permissiveness when using contraception before and outside marriage”.

The church expressed fear that programmes related to “healthy lifestyles, sexual behaviour and health” of children in pre-school and school will be given to “government officials, non-governmental organizations (often pro-LGBT-oriented NGOs), and educators with dubious beliefs”.

Responding to the concept of “all rights for all children”, the church insisted that the rights of parents be protected too and that parents’ authority is not diminished with “artificial and extreme limitations on the educational methods that can be used in raising children”.

The church also opposed the full ban on corporal punishment of children by stating support for “acceptable verbal or physical means to correct child behaviour”.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church also called for respecting the attitudes and needs of Bulgarian society and eliminating the foreign practices and policies that are not applicable to them.

“Children’s rights, parents’ rights, and the protection of the traditional family have a direct bearing on national security, state prosperity and eternal salvation in God,” the church said.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is the largest religious denomination in Bulgaria, with close to 60 per cent of Bulgarians having declared themselves to be adherents of it, in the most recent census in 2011.

Article 13 (3) of Bulgaria’s constitution says that “Eastern Orthodox Christianity shall be considered the traditional religion in the Republic of Bulgaria”.

30 Years after Communism…

November 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News

The Fall of the Berlin Wall was on the evening of November 9, 1989

30 years in 60 seconds at the red-light…

I’m driving slowly in the dark and raining streets of my home town passing through clouds of car smoke. The gypsy ghetto in the outskirts of town is covered with the fog of fires made out of old tires burning in the yards. And the loud music adds that grotesque and gothic nuance to the whole picture with poorly clothed children dancing around the burnings.

The first red light stops me at the entrance to the “more civilized” part of the city. The bright counter right next to it slowly moves through the long 60 seconds while tiredly walking people pass through the intersection to go home and escape the cold rain. The street ahead of me is already covered with dirt and thickening layer of sleet.

This is how I remember Bulgaria of my youth and it seems like nothing has changed in the past 30 years.

The newly elected government just announced its coalition cabinet – next to a dozen like it that had failed in the past two decades. The gas price is holding firmly at $6/gal. and the price of electricity just increased by 10%, while the harsh winter is already knocking at the doors of poor Bulgarian households. A major bank is in collapse threatening to take down the national banking system and create a new crisis much like in Greece. These are the same factors that caused Bulgaria’s major inflation in 1993 and then hyperinflation in 1996-97.

What’s next? Another winter and again a hard one!

Ex-secret police agents are in all three of the coalition parties forming the current government. The ultra nationalistic party called “ATTACK” and the Muslim ethnic minorities party DPS are out for now, but awaiting their move as opposition in the future parliament. At the same time, the new-old prime minister (now in his second term) is already calling for yet another early parliamentarian election in the summer. This is only months after the previous elections in October, 2014 and two years after the ones before them on May 2013.

Every Bulgarian government in the past 30 years has focused on two rather mechanical goals: cardinal socio-economical reforms and battle against communism. The latter is simply unachievable without deep reformative change within the Bulgarian post-communist mentality. The purpose of any reform should be to do exactly that. Instead, what is always changing is the outwardness of the country. The change is only mechanical, but never organic within the country’s heart.

Bulgaria’s mechanical reforms in the past quarter of a century have proven to be only conditional, but never improving the conditions of living. The wellbeing of the individual and the pursuit of happiness, thou much spoken about, are never reached for they never start with the desire to change within the person. For this reason, millions of Bulgarians and their children today work abroad, pursuing another life for another generation.

The stop light in front of me turns green bidding the question where to go next. Every Bulgarian today must make a choice! Or we’ll be still here at the red light in another 30 years from now…

The Legacy of Dr. Nicholas Nikolov and the Bulgarian Pentecostal Union

November 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News, Publication, Research

Dr. Nicholas Nikolov passed to Glory on November 6, 1964. After his death, his wife Martha visited Bulgaria twice in 1976 and 1978, the second time for the 50th anniversary of the Pentecostal Union there where their legacy is strongly remembered to this day.

The organizational talent of Nicholas Nikolov applied with the Pentecostal movement in Bulgaria shaped the history and set a course for the next century. A study on his role and leadership cannot be completed without pointing to the key factors of his ministerial and organizational success despite the divisions present in the Union.

After reviewing Nikolov’s work in Bulgaria, it is becoming clear that it was not the cause for a split among Bulgarian Pentecostals in 1928 as often held. The official registration of the new organization simply confirmed a deepening division that had began with the very start of the movement. More important for us today are the factors that helped Nikolov establish, grow and ensure the future of the Pentecostal organization, while many older and more experienced Bulgarian leaders failed and lost their rightful place in history.

Firstly, what other nucleases within early Bulgarian Pentecostalism lacked in comparison with Nikolov’s Union, was the strong support from abroad (educational, financial and otherwise). It proved indispensable in the Bulgarian context of ministry shaped by deep economic crises and spiritual hunger after WWI. Nikolov found way to implement this advantage effectively in areas where the few before him did not succeed.

Based on his strong relationship with Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield came the clear articulation of doctrinal understanding expressed in a written statement of faith and praxis. In all fairness, neither faith nor praxis borrowed from the American Assemblies of God fit perfectly the primitive Pentecostalism of Bulgaria in 1928. But as the Union grew into a nationwide organization, more useful applications of organized life were replicated even after Nikolov had left Bulgaria for good.

Then comes the very strong and effective educational and discipleship vision for denominational growth (also borrowed from the American Assemblies of God). Other Pentecostal groups in Bulgaria were too formed around strong leaders, but as most of them remained in leadership for life their spiritual strength and vision naturally weekend. While the work of the Spirit and the practice of gifts were central among them, any formal education or even basic training in practical ministry and organizational leadership were disregarded as worldly having no place in the Church of God. With this mentality prevalent, many Pentecostal groups did not survive after the passing of their first generation of leaders and disappeared from history – either assimilated by the Pentecostal Union or lost forever.

In contrast, Nikolov gave special use of strategic organizational structure that aided the work of the Spirit and empowered the Pentecostal churches. He also found ways to invest in the development of trained leaders able to build and lead the Union until his initial vision was fulfilled. In the process, some congregations did loose spirituality while gaining more structure and training. But overall, a healthy balance was reached ensuring a growing and spiritual Pentecostal denomination.

Lastly, the decision to comply with government legislation opened doors to cooperate with other Protestants organizations on a national level. This decision brought constant tensions that had to be carefully weighed. Siding with churches of the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance, many of which subscribed to liberal theology, was seen by the older believers as compromising of the Pentecostal faith. Yet, it gave the young Pentecostal movement much needed credibility.

In a similar matter the government registration, provided a nationwide representation of Pentecostals in religious life and opened doors for renting auditoriums, building sanctuaries and creating a national network of self-sustained churches. Some older Pentecostals still saw this as compromising with the world and an unforgivable sin. Especially when the Communist Regime took over Bulgaria in 1944, most leading Protestant pastors were sentenced to life in prison and their place in the pulpit was filled by government paid agents, who infiltrated the decision making body of the Union and enforced government mandate over the churches.

But it also helped the Union churches survive the Regime and be among the few allowed to have regular meetings and services making them the largest evangelical group in Bulgaria today. Nikolov was right with his decision that a small band of organized Pentecostals was much stronger than any other divided majority. And that empowering Spirit-filled communities with organizational structure and leadership mandate can earn their rightful place in history.

Virtual Real Estate for the Kingdom Conference

November 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Featured, Media, Missions, News, Publication, Research

Cupandcross.com launched in the fall of 1999. Our first public letter went out for Thanksgiving exactly 20 years ago and snice then has reached thousands of readers, partners and friends each week.

Since these humble beginnings, nontraditional means of increase have provided Cup and Cross with unique opportunities to serve in times of hardship. Investing in Virtual Real Estate (VRE) in the 90s has not only provided an e-pulpit to minister to millions of people, but it has been an unprecedent venture. Acquiring and popularizing top level internet domain names has been a long-time focus of ours and its return to the ministry has been irreplaceable.

Our intent for acquiring domain names has been to allow other ministries or organizations to benefit from and use them for a period of time before sale in order to be a good Stuart of the e-space realty. With the wild fluctuations in the .com market, the potential value also alternates.  It has been only with the Lord’s help of seizing the right moment within the divine destiny, that this unique venture has paid off.

Your Website Does Matter

Even if you’re fully engaging your members in church, you still need a church website. Why? According to Grey Matter Research, 17 million Americans who don’t regularly attend church visited a church website. While most are searching for church hours or programs, 26% are streaming video and another 26% are streaming audio. So yes, a website is vital for reaching more people and increasing your members.

Consultation

Beside personal presence and team building strategies, we implement the media in virtually every approach of ministry. We have published several research monographs as well as film series about our ministry work. Our team holds a weekly TV program called the Bible Hour.

Learn how we help churches build their own and unique media presence. For more information about such opportunity feel free to reach out to Cup and Cross. We can provide Internet conferences on the topic or come and visit with you at your church