Bulgarian Churches in North America: The Unrealized Spiritual Harvest as a Paradigm for Cross-Cultural Ministries among Migrant and Disfranchised Ethnic Groups in America Today

October 30, 2016 by  
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bulgarian-church ….A closer examination of the ministry and structure of the network of Bulgarian churches in North America will give answers to essential issues of cross-cultural evangelism and ministry for the Church of God. Unfortunately, until now very little has proven effective in exploring, pursuing and implementing cross-cultural paradigms within the ministry opportunities in communities formed by immigrants from post-Communist countries. As a result, these communities have remained untouched by the eldership and resources available within the Church of God denomination. There are presently no leaders trained by the Church of God for the needs of these migrant communities. Thus, a great urban harvest in large metropolises, where the Church of God has not been historically present in a strong way, remains ungathered. Although, through these communities, the Church of God has the unique opportunity to experience the post-Communist revival from Eastern Europe in a local Western setting… (p.84, Chapter III: Contextual Assessment, Historical Background, Structural Analyses and Demographics of Immigration in a Paradigm for Cross-Cultural Ministries among Migrant and Disfranchised Ethnic Groups in America Today) Read complete paper (PDF)

How to Start a Bulgarian Church in America from A-to-Z

95 Years Ago Ivan Voronaev Finally Reached the City of Odessa

August 15, 2016 by  
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51Sa1IcA8OL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Not So “Little Odessa” (from the book The Life and Ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronev)

By the end of the summer of 1921, Voronaev and Koltovich received their permits to return to Russia and on August 12, 1921 landed in Odessa.[1] It had taken Voronaev over a decade of traveling around the globe to return to his motherland as a Pentecostal preacher and fulfill the divine calling: “Voronaev, Voronaev. Go to Russia!”

The results of his commitment and sacrifice increased quickly. For the first three months in Odessa, he labored among the evangelical churches, sharing his testimony and preaching the full gospel. Then, on November 21, 1921 he organized the Christian Evangelical Faith (Confession).[2] In two years time, the new community had over 370 members and the news of the new Pentecostal teaching spread rapidly across the U.S.S.R. In 1924, the Odessa community organized a regional assembly and at the second assembly in 1925, the Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christian Faith (Confession) was established.

By 1927, more than 350 Pentecostal Assemblies with membership of 17,000 strong were part of the Union,[3] which continued to grow and by 1944 exceeded 20,000 in Ukraine and 80,000 strong in the whole U.S.S.R.[4] Voronaev’s church in Odessa alone was reported to have over 1,000 members.[5] Government persecution was inevitable. Numerous publications against Voronaev’s work were circulated not only through Communist propaganda, but by some Baptist periodicals, who characterized the Pentecostal ministry as sectarian at best.[6] The Regime could not afford the meetings of large groups of people who were not part of the Communist Party. The Voronaev family paid the ultimate price of their calling for organizing and growing the Pentecostal community in Communist Russia.

In the summer of 1930 the repressions against Russian Pentecostals began. On July 6 (almost exactly 10 years after he left America for his prophesied mission to Russia) Ivan E. Voronaev and B.R. Koltovich, along with some 800 Russian pastors,[7] were arrested for preaching the Gospel through the support of churches outside the U.S.S.R., both sufficient reasons to be convicted in espionage and imprisoned in Siberian work camps.[8] Voronaev’s wife was also sentenced to imprisonment in mid-Asia. Their children were left without provision and no one to take care of them…[9]

[1] Ibid.,8.

[2] Ibid.,9.

[3] Koltovich, “Minutes of the Jubilee Meeting”, 10 and Evangelist (Odessa: 1928, No. 1) Quoted in Durasoff, 73 and Smolchuck, 4.

[4] Zhidkov, “On the Roads …” (Bv, No. 3, 1957), 62. Around 1936 Donald Gee, who had an extensive ministry at the Assemblies of God training program for ministers at Gdanks (Danzig), Poland, claimed some 80,000 Pentecostals in Russia in Upon All Flesh (Springfield: The Gospel Publishing House, 1947), 31. Both quoted in Durasoff, The Russian Protestants. For a more detail discussion on the growth of Pentecostalism in the U.S.S.R see V.I. Franchuk, Prossila Rossia Dozhdia u Gospoda (n/a: Kiev, 2001).

[5] McLeod, Hugh. Christianity: World Christianities c. 1914-c. 2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 97.

[6] Durasoff, 73.

[7] McLeod, 97.

[8] Burgess, Stanley M. and Eduard M. van der Maas, The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2002), 1179-80.

[9] For the situation in Russia and the story of the Voronaev children see Voronaeff, Paul. Christians under the Hammer and the Sickle (Wichita: Defender Publishers, 1935). Book was printed a total of 11 times in some three years time.

Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Integration Proposal with Local NATO Programs

June 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News, Publication, Research

NATO chaplaincy

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaBulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Celebrating a Decade of Ministry

We are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

Although the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association emerges from and ministers within the Bulgarian cultural context, it is designed for integral cooperation with organizations of various origins. This advantage comes from the experience of previous working relationships that the organizations represented within the Association have had with other non-Bulgarian organizations. The vision, structure and operation of the Association incorporate and comply with western styles of chaplaincy work on three levels (1) cultural, (2) educational and (3) governmental.

The cultural heritage of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association represents a valuable environment for integration of NATO forces within the local cultural setting. On a cultural level, various events and activities such as English speaking church services, fellowship of soldiers with local communities, hospitals, orphanages and other cultural experiences are available. Humanitarian aid projects are among the most efficient manner for integration within the local community.

On an educational level, there are possibilities on both sides. For example, Bulgarian language courses for the soldiers and English language courses for the local community could be implemented. The most important element within the education strategy perhaps may be education of chaplaincy workers, especially in the current context when Bulgaria is in a need of trained crisis counselors for cases of floods and other natural disasters. Finally, local and national government relations will assist in the change of the status of chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Army. Such an approach will have positive political implications, as chaplaincy becomes a mediator between the army, church and government.

The presented proposal integrates religious moral issues along with socio-political principles in the idea for chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Army. The implications of these principles project involvement of local NATO units in partnership with local Bulgarian organizations. In the case of chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Army, the proposed organization is the newly established Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association. Although political, social and economical issues remain in the scope of its work, the Association’s main priority is the renewal of spirituality within the army structure through cutting-edge chaplaincy ministry beyond the ecclesial gates into a world of war and insecurity. The Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association acts as an agent of spiritual restoration targeting morality within the Bulgarian Army with the Bulgarian chaplain as the key element in this process. For an army without spirituality is no army at all.

Also important [click to read]:

THE CASE OF A NATO CHAPLAINCY MODEL WITHIN THE BULGARIAN ARMY (Submitted to the Manfred Wörner Foundation)

June 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News, Publication

special force chaplain

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaWe are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

In April 2004, Bulgaria was officially accepted into the global structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The event followed a long series of historic developments that were accomplished despite the existence of highly antagonistic forces that opposed the very idea of Bulgaria’s membership in any Western alliance. Among these were internal and external political, economical and social factors that historically have forced the country to remain under the influence of the forces opposing the West.

As the country of Bulgaria is now a member of NATO and awaits acceptance into the European Union in 2007, international experts are working with various government institutions and consultant agencies to create an atmosphere in which the Bulgarian mindset can experience a new national revival in the 21st century. NATO’s involvement in this process serves as a catalyst both for reinforcing Bulgaria’s infrastructure and attracting international interest in the country’s affairs. Issues concerning national security, military involvement, international relations, economical development and ethnic diversity are continuously and carefully taken into consideration. However, one issue still remains untouched neither by NATO’s official position in Bulgaria, nor by the Bulgarian government. This is the issue of faith.

Three reasons make such topic of relevant importance. First, Bulgaria claims traditional and historical religious belongingness to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Furthermore, the centuries of religious wars on the Balkans have formed a complete dependency on ethnic religiosity, making faith the prime factor for animosity, hatred and genocide. Finally, the issue of morale and morality in the armed forces remains open for any military unit and will need to be addressed sooner or later in the context of NATO’s presence in Bulgaria.

This research will show how the above issues could be resolved by the presence of a NATO paradigm for chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Armed Forces. The paper will explore the current developments of chaplaincy in Bulgaria on three levels: church, society and government. It will then present the case of “underground chaplaincy” in Bulgaria and provide an appropriate solution to be implemented through the newly established Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association. The conclusion will outline the benefits that can be achieved by a partnership between local NATO representatives and the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association who combine efforts to restore the spirituality within the Bulgarian Army through the legalization of chaplaincy ministry within its structures.

Also important [click to read]:

Historical Overview of Military, Hospital and Occupational Chaplaincy in Bulgaria

June 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

pentecostal chaplaincy in bulgaria

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaWe are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

The Country of Bulgaria in World History
The dramatic split of the Roman Empire preceded the establishment of the first Bulgarian Kingdom on the Balkan Peninsula in 681 AD.  The consecutive military, cultural and economical influence of Byzantium over the Bulgarian nation claimed the newly established country to the side of the East from its birth. This propensity was sustained through the two Bulgarian Kingdoms (established respectfully in 681 AD and 1188 AD). It was renewed with even greater strength when the Ottoman Empire overtook the weakened country of Bulgaria in 1139 AD and for the next five centuries, the Orient claimed control of European Bulgaria.

In 1878, Bulgaria was liberated from the Ottoman Yoke by Russia, but only to remain under its political and economical umbrella for the next 111 years until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This event reaffirmed Bulgaria’s belongingness to the East as the country joined the Central Powers throughout World War I and deliberately remained with the Axis Powers in World War II.

Even when, on September 9, 1944, the Bulgarian Communist Revolution overthrew the monarchy and forced the country to move to the opposite camp of the war, Bulgaria’s allegiance remained with the Eastern of the Allies – the Soviet Union. This belongingness continued during the next 45 years to reform Bulgaria’s economical, political and cultural reality while transforming the Bulgarian mindset to a mentality which today remains the primary obstacle to Bulgaria’s integration in the free world.

As the country of Bulgaria is now a member of NATO and awaits acceptance into the European Union in 2007, international experts are working with various government institutions and consultant agencies to create an atmosphere in which the Bulgarian mindset can experience a new national revival in the 21st century. NATO’s involvement in this process serves as a catalyst both for reinforcing Bulgaria’s infrastructure and attracting international interest in the country’s affairs. Issues concerning national security, military involvement, international relations, economical development and ethnic diversity are continuously and carefully taken into consideration. However, one issue still remains untouched neither by NATO’s official position in Bulgaria, nor by the Bulgarian government. This is the issue of faith.

Also important [click to read]:

Brief Historical Overview of Chaplaincy in Bulgaria
It is true that clear documentation for the presence of chaplaincy in Bulgaria may be difficult to produce, especially according to any modern definition of chaplaincy ministry. However, it would not be unfounded to claim that the practice of military priests acting as chaplains in the Bulgarian Army dates back to at least Bulgaria’s national conversion to Christianity under King Boris I in 863AD. Having adopted virtually all the characteristics of a religious state from Byzantium, Bulgaria utilized priests and liturgy in its military forces.

During the time of the Ottoman Empire, the tradition of military priests ceased, as naturally Bulgaria had no army. However, foreign representatives continuously carried the ministry of chaplaincy through the Bulgarian lands. Around the 14th century, immigrants from Dubrovnik found a diaspora in Sofia. In 1486, they built the Patrum S. Franscisci Cathedral. The assigned priest also ministered as a community chaplain.[1] In the 16th century, German theologian Stephen Gerlah traveled through Bulgaria as a secretary to the protestant ambassador to Constantinople. Gerlah reports of the religious intolerance toward the Bulgarian population.[2]

Every military force dispatched to Bulgaria arrived with a chaplain.  For example, British chaplains were active during the Crimean War.[3] In 1860, Principle Chaplain to the forces of the East, H.P. Wright reported an outburst of cholera in the General Hospital at the Black Sea port of Varna.[4]

After the liberation from the Ottoman Yoke in 1878, the Missionary Herald reports: “The Protestant preacher from Adrianople is just in. …. The governor of Southern Bulgaria, who resides there, is a Russian general, and is a strong Protestant.[5] He has Protestant services (conducted by his chaplain) every Sabbath, at the government house.”[6]

In 1879, the German prince Alexander Battenberg was enthroned in Bulgaria. The new monarch arrived with a personal chaplain, a Lutheran minister by the name of Adolf Koch.[7] Koch was instrumental in organizing a commune of German immigrants and holding regular protestant services in a specially designed building. The royal entourage, German families, Austrian and Swiss merchants and bankers and Russian officers, attended these services.[8]

At approximately the same time, Bulgarian Orthodox priest resumed their position with the armed forces in various conflicts. Orthodox priests actively participated in the Russian-Turkish (1877-1878) and the Serbo-Bulgarian (1885) wars. It was during this period that the Bulgarian chaplaincy tradition was reestablished under the title “garrison priest” and Vladimir Solovyov first discussed the theology of war. The role of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church continues to be present during combat throughout the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), often called the “Orthodox Holy War” and “The Last Crusade.” Orthodox chaplaincy is also present in the two World Wars, but the orthodox theology of war viewing Bulgaria as the “New Israel” was completely destroyed when Communism overthrew the monarchy establishing a new regime.[9] Religion was rejected as “opium of the masses” and the military chaplain for the next 45 years was replaced by the regiment’s politcommissar.

[1] Kratak Istoriheski Pregled. http://www.bukvite.com/studio/teoria.php?lid=48 (August 1, 2006).

[2] Stephen Gerlah, Dnevnik na edno patuvane do Osmanskata porta v Carigrad (Sofia: Izdtelstvo OF, 1976).

[3] Frances Duberly. Journal kept during the Russian War. (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1855). Also, William W. Hall, Purtans on the Balkans (Sofia: n/a, 1938), 49, 61 and 249.

[4] “Realities of Paris Life”. The Dublin University Magazine: A Literary and Political Journal. Vol. LV (January-June, 1860), 166.

[5] Perhaps reference of general Arcadii Stolipin, who served as the governor of Eastern Rumelia after Bulgaria was divided by the San Stefano Treaty of 1878.

[6] “European Turkey Masson.” The Missionary Herald, Containing the Proceedings of the American Board. (July, 1878:74, 7).

[7] Report Girl’s School, 1881. Archive: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Vol. I, 146. Annual Report, American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1882, 26.

[8] H. Mayer, Die Diaspora der Deutshen Evangeliscen Kirche in Rumanien, Serbien und Bulgarien (Postdam, 1901), 440.

[9] Svetlozar Eldarov, Pravoslavieto na Voina (Sofia: Sv. Georgi Pobedenosec, 2004).

Chaplaincy in Bulgaria: Celebrating 10 Years of Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association

June 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaBulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Celebrating a Decade of Ministry

We are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

It has taken over 10 years since the envisioning of the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry in Bulgaria for its final realization in the Bulgarian national and cultural context. Through this time of struggle and anticipation, we encountered a number of obstacles as follows:

  • Government difficulties on various levels within the Bulgarian administration and a direct repression from the Ministry of Justice, which was later included in the Religious Freedom report of the U.S. Department of State
  • Administrative difficulties with approving the program as a legal educational process, while no legal background of chaplaincy had ever been provided in Bulgaria
  • Economic difficulties with arranging location and time placement for the program, lecturers, the very much needed student scholarships and various other academic expenses
  • Proper student selection through a special screening process to ensure only qualified candidates for placement within the Master’s Program
  • And of course, spiritual difficulties with the whole process of establishing chaplaincy in Bulgaria again being a definite spiritual warfare for all participants

Now, that the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Program is an undeniable fact, we realize how our training was more than just a necessity for the implementation of such a great task. It was also well sufficient for a time as such.

With the crises within the Bible College system of Bulgaria and the potential change of status for the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute (Theological Seminary) in Sofia, the professional programs offered thus far will have to be assimilated into some liberal art schools with a newly evaluated perspective on Christian education in Bulgaria or they will be forever lost.

In this context, some modifications may be required in the process to reflect more on these changes and their effects for the Chaplaincy Program as well as on the social role of chaplaincy in Bulgaria. Such search for equilibrium is only normal given that historically Bulgaria has placed chaplaincy ministry only within the perimeter of army, prisons and hospitals.

The final goal in our educational strategy, which directly targets legislation and practical implementation of chaplain ministry within various levels of government infrastructure, now remains for the student chaplains graduating with a masters degree specifically designed for their area of ministry from our program. Cooperation with a vast social network for this task is a must, and our students are already well trained through a practicum that strongly demands their cooperative work together.

And while the Bulgarian armed forces still remain the only one within the structures of NATO that has no chaplaincy whatsoever, professional Chaplaincy, as we foresaw it a decade ago, will most probably begin with a new vision within the reformed infrastructure of the Bulgarian army and shortly afterwards move to other professional branches as well.

Also important [click to read]:

Church of God Chaplaincy in Bulgaria: In the beginning…

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaBulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Celebrating a Decade of Ministry

We are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

But let us backup just a moment and start from the very beginning. In the summer of 1995, while pioneering the first Bulgarian church in the Chicago Metro, the local Church of God state office offered a civil chaplaincy training course for beginners. Unfortunately, due to our heavy church schedule, the chance to attend was low and virtually unobtainable. It was not until five years later that our interest in the field was finally rewarded, as in the summer of 2000 both my wife-to-be and I completed the required course work for chaplaincy accreditation, followed by an intense module at the Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, where essentially the whole idea for the resurrection of chaplaincy ministry in Bulgaria was born.

Today, our Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program has produced a number of graduates who are serving in various chaplaincy positions and civil services in Bulgaria. Please continue to pray for all our named and unnamed chaplains on mission. (Click here to read more)

Also important [click to read]:

Pentecost Sunday 2016

May 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Events, Featured, News

Offering a few recent Pentecostal articles in light of the upcoming Pentecostal Sunday celebration:51bmftgrh4l_ss500_1

  1. The Forgotten Azusa Street Mission: The Place where the First Pentecostals Met
  2. Diamonds in the Rough-N-Ready Pentecostal Series (Complete)
  3. 95th anniversary of the Pentecostal movement in Bulgaria
  4. Toward a Pentecostal Solution to the Refugee Crises in the European Union
  5. Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals
  6. Pacifism as a Social Stand for Holiness among Early Bulgarian Pentecostals
  7. The Practice of Corporate Holiness within the Communion Service of Bulgarian Pentecostals
  8. Sanctification and Personal Holiness among Early Bulgarian Pentecostals
  9. First Pentecostal Missionaries to Bulgaria (1920)
  10. Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals
  11. The Everlasting Gospel: The Significance of Eschatology in the Development of Pentecostal Thought
  12. Online Pentecostal Academic Journals
  13. What made us Pentecostal?
  14. Pentecostalism and Post-Modern Social Transformation
  15. Obama, Marxism and Pentecostal Identity
  16. Why I Decided to Publish Pentecostal Primitivism?
  17. Historic Pentecostal Revival Tour in Bulgaria Continues
  18. The Land of Pentecostals
  19. Pentecostal Theological Seminary Address
  20. A Truly Pentecostal Water Baptism

The Church of God: A social history

February 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

4854453The Church of God: A SOCIAL HISTORY
by Mickey Crews

The University of Tennessee Press, KNOXVILLE

Copyright © 1990 by The University of Tennessee Press / Knoxville. All Rights Reserved. Manufactured in the United States of America. First Edition.

The paper in this book meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials.

READ the full text here: https://archive.org/details/churchofgodsociacrew

DOWNLOAD as PDF file here: https://archive.org/download/churchofgodsociacrew/churchofgodsociacrew.pdf

Christmas Book Sale

December 15, 2015 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

books

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