IN MEMORIAM

January 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

Samuel Thomas “ST” Scroggs, 90, passed away peacefully at his home Thursday, January 10, 2019. He was born in Seneca August 8, 1928, a son of Paul H. and Ethel Rose (Hughes) Scroggs.

His livelihood was in textiles for 45 years. He worked hard to provide for his family. ST loved being a farmer. Nothing brought him more joy. His wife, Rev. Evelyn Edgar Scroggs was an ordained minister and ST was a co-minister with his wife, supporting her in her ministry. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, watersports when he was younger, hiking and camping. He loved his senior social group at the Newry Church of God.

ST is survived by two daughters, Phyllis Durham and husband Bill of Easley and Marcia Harrell of Gastonia, NC; a son, Greg Scroggs and wife Marilyn of Anderson; son-in-law, Raymond Duane Harrell; grandchildren, Matthew Nix and wife Lindsay, Brandon Harrell and Morgan Floyd, Andrew Harrell, Weston Scroggs and wife Caitlan, Kyle Scroggs, and nephew, Tommy Sluder; great grandchildren, Colbi and Jaxon Scroggs, and Mattie, Evie and Olin Nix; and many nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his wife of 54 years, Evelyn; sisters, Irene Barton, Juanita Vickery, Ruth Johnson, Charlene Leopole, Ava Brush, and Betty Owens.

Funeral services will be held 2:00 PM Monday, January 14 at the Newry Church of God, 234 Newry Road, Seneca. Interment will follow at the Oconee Memorial Park.

The family will receive friends 2-4:00 PM Sunday, January 13 at the Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home, 108 Cross Creek Road, Central.

NEW LAW on RELIGION VOTED in BULGARIA

January 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News

After eight street protests in the last two months, Evangelical Christians gathered in front of Bulgaria’s Parliament praying for God’s intervention in the legislative process voted on December 21st. On its last work day for the year, the National Assembly of Bulgaria voted amendments in the nation’s Religious Denominations Act effective January 1, 2019. A number of problematic provisions were pulled out of the draft following local protests and international pressure. The final draft voted in excluded most of the original amendments pushed at first reading in early October allowing the government to interfere in heavy ways into church affairs.

Those problematic articles are now dropped from the law! They included a number of disconcerting restrictions, including

  • impeding clergy training;
  • strict filtering of international donations to churches;
  • limitations on sermon content;
  • restraining liturgy to designated buildings;
  • obstructing non-Bulgarians’ ministry;
  • membership of 3,000 for legal registration;
  • and allowing special privileges to religious groups over one percent of the population.

After the seventh rally, held on a snowy Sunday, December 16th, Bulgarian Christians assumed voting would be postponed until after New Year, and called off the protests for Christmas. A sudden push by the Parliament, however, moved the vote date to December 20, 2018 right after a letter by Fredrik Sundberg Principal Administrator of the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, who reminded Bulgarian politicians that:

“Having examined the different version of the draft Bill […] the Department considers that certain provisions could, if adopted, undermine the execution of the above mentioned judgements which are currently under the supervision of the Committee of Ministers; thus, placing them in a situation at odds with the obligations of Bulgaria under Articles 9 and 11 of the Convention.”

As a result, during the meeting of the parliament’s Committee of Religious Denominations and Human Rights, its chairman Krasimir Velchev unexpectedly changed his mind and pushed a decision to scratch off the 3,000 members requirement for judicial registration of a religious group. Even though the Committee had expressed an unyielding determination to promote this provision, the correspondence from the Council of Europe quickly changed their mind. A day later, the Religion Denominations Act was presented for deliberations on the floor of the House. A few articles were voted in on Thursday, and the rest on Friday, December 21st. Almost all of the provisions that were protested against were dropped to include the following into the new legislation that is now effectively operational as follows:

(1) Each church is to maintain and submit to the government a detail list of all ministers operating within its government registration. It is unclear how churches, which refuse government registration, will continue to operate

(2) Buildings owned and used for religious purposes (liturgy, worship service) must be registered into a national registry before receiving any tax deductions

(3) It is unclear if and how will churches with rented auditoriums, which account for roughly some 70% of the Bulgarian congregations, will report to the goverment or use any tax deductions

(4) Worship services allowed outside of designated building are limited on the use of loudspeakers and PA systems

(5) Foreigners can hold services only after informing the state Directorate of Religious Affairs about their activity in Bulgaria

The final draft of the Religion Denominations Act envisages state subsidy for officially registered denominations on the basis of the number of self-identified followers in the most recent census. The state also assumes paying salaries to their active ministers using taxpayers money. Based on this, the Orthodox Church will receive annually between  $10-25 million and  the Muslim confession about $350,000. At this time, subsidizing Evangelical churches is not included in the government budget.

By accepting state subsidy, the two largest religious groups in Bulgaria are entering a season of dependence on secular government. No state should ever interfere with church affairs. No religious community should ever be placed in a state of financial dependency under the authority of the secular state. Will the Eastern Orthodox denomination and the Muslim religion be able to shake off political influences? Will they have the courage to stand up for justice and speak up for the truth?

A word from the man who prophesied the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989

December 30, 2018 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News, Video

New Bill on Religion in Bulgaria Goes to a Final Vote

December 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News, Publication

A government committee met in Bulgaria today to decide any last changes in the new legislation on religion and churches in Bulgaria. The bill will be then brought before the Parliament for a final vote this Friday, December 21, 2018 before it becomes an official law. In its current draft, the legislation infringes harsh restrictions on religious freedom and evangelical believers, which will disrupt church services right before Christmas.

Protestant protests will continue all day on Friday before the Bulgarian Parliament in the snowy weather. Should the legislation be voted in to become an official law, Christians will be forced to continue their peaceful protesting and prayer marches in order to defend their religious freedom and right of expression.

Council of Europe and the European Union Report (video)

United Nations report on Government Restrictions of Religious Freedom in Bulgaria

UPDATE: Christians in Bulgaria continue to protest over new law

CBN: Evangelical Christians Praying Against a Serious Threat in Bulgaria

Christianity Today: Bulgaria Considers Religious Restrictions

DayStarTV: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM UNDER ATTACK IN BULGARIA

Read more here: 

LATEST from BULGARIA: Freedom of religion is a fundamental right of all European Union citizens

December 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News

  • Second vote on the proposed legislation was postponed for December, 2018 though current draft still infringes harsh restrictions on religious freedom
  • Protestant protests have continued for over a month in several cities on November 11, 18, 25, December 2 and now scheduled for December 9, 2018

SOURCE: Evangelical Focus – SOFIA, December 2018

Members of the European Parliament (MEP’s) of the European Christian Political Movement have expressed their concern towards the proposed legislation titled “Bill for the Amendment and Supplement of the Law on Religions” currently progressing through the National Assembly, Bulgaria’s Parliament.

On November 27, the MEP’s said they were “uncertain about the proposed law that has the potential to significantly interfere with religious freedom in Bulgaria”. “In recent weeks, they have been made aware of a growing disquiet from a broad range of Christian communities in Bulgaria regarding the possible negative impact of this proposed law on Christian life”, said the movement of European politicians formed by committed Christians faith.

In their letter to Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, the members of the ECPM wrote: “Freedom of religion and belief is considered a fundamental right of all EU citizens and a pillar of European democracy. We thoroughly believe that the wellbeing of Bulgarian people and development of Bulgarian society is your uttermost priority. Our experience from the nations we represent shows that respect for the principle of non-discrimination of Christians of every denomination always results in a harmonious and prosperous society.”

The organisation encourages the Bulgarian legislators to “take these arguments into account and consider necessary steps that will safeguard the rights of religious minorities living in Bulgaria”. The letter was sent to the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, with a plea for intervention in this matter too.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE ADDRESSED BY ADF AND BULGARIAN CHURCHES

Two days later, On November 29, advocacy group ADF International and a coalition of Bulgarian churches “filed a formal request with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe that he initiates a review of a proposed Bulgarian Law on Religious Denominations currently being debated in the Bulgarian Parliament”, the group said. “The Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe, would carry out the review”. Lorcán Price, Legal Counsel for ADF International, added: “Nobody should be deprived of their fundamental right to religious freedom. As the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in the past, the government should not engage in ‘picking favourites’ when it comes to churches”.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN BULGARIA

On December 1, the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance (BEA) issued the following statement summarizing the situation at that point:

The Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance continues to express concern in regards of the Religious Denominations Act amendments planned by the Parliament. Earlier this year, two drafts were coined out and later merged into one proposed legislation. It contained a number of disconcerting restrictions, including impeding clergy training; strict filtering of international donations to churches; limitations on sermon content; restraining liturgy to designated buildings; obstructing non-Bulgarians’ ministry; membership of 300 for legal registration; allowing special privileges to religious groups over one percent of the population.

The lawmakers’ initiative triggered a massive public outcry. Every faith group in Bulgaria issued a statement of objection. The BEA and communities like Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists and Evangelical denominations mobilized church members for public protests on November 11, 18 and 25. These peaceful vigils were called “prayer rallies” and were held in a dozen Bulgarian towns. The third protest, the largest so far having some 3,000 people in Sofia, was covered by every media in the country. The Evangelical rallies were accompanied by statements of groups of academicians and public figures, as well as by several legal rights associations.

After a Parliamentary workgroup deliberated on Oct.14, some of the initial proposals were withdrawn. Two days later, a new version of the amendments was published on the Bulgarian Parliament’s webpage. In the new document, the lawmakers had conceded some initial provisions like restricting worship only to designated buildings, filtering international sponsorship, limiting foreigners’ ministry, disallowing religious schools. However, other problematic provisions remained.

The Nov.16 version of the draft increased tenfold the threshold for registering a religious group: at least 3,000 members! This is an act of discrimination against minority groups. Apparently, the lawmakers’ intention is to severely cut the number of legal faith groups in Bulgaria (currently, 183 registered religions in the country). Even though there was an oral commitment that this article would not be used with reverse force, there is another one according to which a legally recognized religion might lose its registration if it fails to abide by the new requirements. A prominent installment is the provision that a private real estate could automatically become property of the religion using it by a prescriptive right. Once again, clergymen and missionaries wishing to be involved in liturgy or worship will have to register with the state or else risk penalty.

Ten days after the first meeting of the workgroup, a second one was held on Nov.23. Representatives of various religious groups were invited. The lawmakers made more oral promises for concessions, including: dropping the requirement for registration to 200 members; rewriting the text so that it would not have a reverse strength; canceling the prohibition of worship outside designated buildings. Once again, no written record was provided of the group’s deliberations. No document was submitted into Parliament documenting these concessions. Instead, it was made clear that every preliminary version of the proposed legislation would enter parliamentary deliberations. This understanding leads us to be seriously concerned that some of the commitments taken during the workgroup discussions may in fact be ignored by MPs during the bill’s final voting.

The BEA also expresses anxiety regarding the procedure of how the new legislation was handled by Bulgarian lawmakers. Whereas the normal logic of new legal instalments would mean first a consultation with the religious groups affected, and only then submitting the bill for reading at Parliament, in this instance our decision makers adopted a reverse series of steps. First, two new drafts (with different agendas) were pushed in Parliament; then they were factitiously united into one bill with amendments; and only then was a work group of interested parties invited to the table to discuss provisions that were completely unacceptable, before submitting the document for 2nd reading by MPs.

By this point, BEA concerns have been shared and reiterated by a number of European and global religious and legal rights entities, including

  • the World Evangelical Alliance, the European Evangelical Alliance,
  • international denominational bodies (Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, and others),
  • the Conference of European Churches,
  • the USCIRF,
  • Advocates Europe,
  • Transform Europe Network,
  • Norway’s Stefanus Alliance and Helsinki Committee,
  • the European Christian Political Movement,
  • ADF International, etc.

On Tuesday, Nov.27, a week prior to its 17th general assembly in Brussels, the European Christian Political Movement sent a letter to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. The address expressed uncertainty “about the proposed law that has the potential to significantly interfere with religious freedom in Bulgaria.” The letter was also sent to Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, with a plea for intervention.

On Nov.29, ADF International and a coalition of Bulgarian churches filed a request with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to initiate a review of the proposed Religious Denominations Act. The Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe, has been involved to carry out a review of the legislation.

The BEA appeals on the common sense of the Bulgarian authorities. The freedoms of belief, word, and meeting are fundamental rights. We remind our politicians that in a free and democratic society they are called to defend fundamental rights, rather than introduce arbitrary and dubiously motivated restrictions. By claiming these freedoms and upholding the dignity of the Bulgarian nation, we urge the Parliament to withdraw all proposed amendments to the Religious Denominations Act.

BULGARIAN PASTOR WILL SPEAK AT EU PARLIAMENT EVENT

This week, a board member of the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance will tak part in an event at  the European Parliament in connection to celebrating 70 years since the signing of “The Universal Declaration for Human Rights”, back on December 10, 1948. Reverend Daniel Topalski will attend the sessions planned for December 4-6 in the European Parliament. He will take part in a panel discussion on basic human rights, and he will use the opportunity to speak up about the situation in Bulgaria. Pastor Topalski is head of the Methodist Church in Bulgaria, and a representative of the BEA in the EEA.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM UNDER ATTACK in BULGARIA (CBN/DayStart video)

November 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

If this new legislation gets voted by Parliament, it will immediately affect virtually all evangelical churches in Bulgaria in the following manner:

(1) Over 95% of the congregations, which do not own their own church buildings will be forced to stop services until they purchase or build one approved by the government. For the majority of them, this requirement will mean their end of existence

(2) Some 1,000+ small congregations, which represent the last buffer between Europe and Islam and meet in temporary buildings in the Gipsy ghettos will be virtually outlawed

(3) Without any external support at the verge of a heavy winter, many evangelical churches in Bulgaria will be forced to close doors simply for not being able to pay their cost of operation

UPDATE: Christians in Bulgaria continue to protest over new law

CBN: Evangelical Christians Praying Against a Serious Threat in Bulgaria

Christianity Today: Bulgaria Considers Religious Restrictions

On November 11th, 18th and 25th all evangelical churches in Bulgaria are openly protesting in the streets a new restrictive bill on religion, which allows government control over churches across the country as follows:

(1) Funding, which does not originate from Bulgaria will become illegal

(2) All denominations must present before the court a list of the names of at least 3,000 members or have their government registration revoked and services stopped

(3) All church services must be held in government approved buildings, not rented auditoriums, open air or even private homes

(4) All denominations must submit a list with the names of their ministers to be allowed legally to preach

(5) It is illegal to evangelize minors under the age of 18

Video from the protests and LIVE coverage here: http://cupandcross.com/protest/

Dr. Dony K. Donev
http://cupandcross.com/

Read more here: 

• EEA calls to action in support of the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance

• Religion Funding Law “Sad Reminder of Communist Past”

• New Controversial Law on Religion to be Voted in Bulgaria

• Bulgarian law to ban all foreign preachers

• New Bill of Religions Bans Foreign Support for Churches in Bulgaria

• Bulgarian evangelicals alarmed by restrictive and discriminative bill on faith minorities

BLACK FRIDAY SALE of Bulgarian Democracy Looking over the Wall

November 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

You can now understand the Bulgarian post-Communist mentality in 21st century described in Looking Over the Wall: A Psychological Exploration of Communist and Post Communist Bulgaria

This book is the result of over a decade of research and personal experiences of living in Bulgaria for the past seven years. It embodies documents, articles, personal interviews and essays dealing with psychological explorations of communist and post communist Bulgaria. Along with a historical overview of Bulgaria, the author presents the development of psychotherapy throughout the country and addresses future concerns for the state of counseling within a post communist context. Furthermore, the author examines the Pentecostal experience of the Bulgarian evangelical believer drawing on a paper presented at the 36th annual Society of Pentecostal Studies Conference. As well included is original research which develops a theoretical account of the sequences of internal motivation in addition to student survey results regarding counseling practices from the first Master’s in Chaplaincy Ministry Program in Europe at the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute.

All books by Cup&Cross on SALE

Final clearance sale for the year with new titles coming up in early 2019

CLICK the picture below to view all titles on Amazon.com

52 DAYS AWAY

October 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

Polk County Christmas Parade Route Shadows the Footsteps of the Historic Cherokee Removal

October 1, 2018 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News

The Georgia Road or present day Federal Road was a route of the Trail of Tears walked by the Cherokee people during the forced removal from their homelands. The Tellico Blockhouse was the starting point for the Old Federal Road. The route ran from Niles Ferry on the Little Tennessee River near the present day U.S. Highway 411 Bridge, southward into Georgia. The road continued southward via the Federal Trail connecting to the North Old Tellico Highway past the present site of Coltharp School, intersected Tennessee Highway 68 and passed the site of the Nonaberg Church. East of Englewood, Tennessee it continued on the east side of McMinn Central High School and crossed Highway 411 near the railroad overpass. Along the west side of Etowah, the road continued near Cog Hill and the Hiwassee River near the mouth of Conasauga Creek where there was a ferry near the site of the John Hildebrand Mill. From the ferry on the Hiwassee River, the road ran through the site of the present Benton, Tennessee courthouse. It continued on Welcome Valley Road and then crossed the Ocoee River at the Hildebrand Landing. From this point the road ran south and crossed U.S. Highway 64 where there is now the River Hills Church of God, formerly the Ocoee Church of God. Continuing south near Old Fort, the route crossed U.S. Highway 411 and came to the Conasauga River at McNair Landing. Near the south end of the village of Tennga, Georgia stands a historic marker alongside Highway 411, which states the Old Federal Road was close to its path for the next twenty-five miles southward. This is some 15 miles from the historic Chief Vann Plantation where the first Christmas celebration of the Cherokee People was held. It would have been at this point in Tennga that the Trail of Tears would have taken a turn onto GA-2 passing the Praters Mill near Dalton Georgia to connect in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

READ ALSO:

The Nehemiah Experience: Devil, did you hear, I done built the wall!

September 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News

2018 Revival Harvest Campaign: The Nehemiah Experience

Nehemiah 1: Who cries, fasts and prays for the desolated church?

Nehemiah 2: Dear, devil, I am back!

Nehemiah 3: 12 gates of Jerusalem

Nehemiah 4: Devil, did you hear, I done built the wall…
(1)Time to enter through the Door
(2) Time for junk no more
(3) Time to wage war

Calling on the Nehemiah Generation

Strangers will come in the Church
And the walls need to be fortified…

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