Bulgarian Evangelical Churches on the West Coast (2017 Report)

June 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

bulgarian-church

Bulgarian Evangelical Churches – West Coast (2017 Report)

  • Los Angeles (occasional/outreach of the Foursquare Church – Mission Hills, CA)
  • Las Vegas (outreach of the Foursquare Church – http://lasvegaschurch.tv)
  • San Francisco (occasional/inactive since 2012, Berkeley University/Concord, CA)
  • Phoenix, AX (occasional/outreach)

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Bulgarian Evangelical Churches in Texas (2017 Report)

June 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

bulgarian-churchDallas: 2435 East Hebron Parkway Carrollton, Texas 75010 (outreach of the Assemblies of God – Carrollton, TX)

Houston: 6400 Woodway Drive (building #C), Houston, Texas 77057 (inactive/occasional since 2012)

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A.J. Tomlinson prayed through to his own sanctification

June 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

A.J. Tomlinson prayed through to his own sanctification

Following a series of holiness revivals in and around Westfield, Indiana between 1891 and 1892, in which the doctrine of entire sanctification was preached by evangelists including Jacob Baker, John Pennington, Emma Coffin, and Nathan and Esther Frame, A.J. Tomlinson prayed through to his own sanctification experience, which he relayed in his autobiography Answering The Call Of God about twenty years after the experience:

“It was about twelve o’clock in the day. I cried out in the bitterness of my soul: “Now! Now! You’ve got to give it up now! Now!” I felt him begin to weaken and quiver. I kept the “Sword” right in him and never let go. That sharp two-edged “Sword” was doing its deadly work. I did not pity him. I showed him no quarters. There we were at that altitude when all of a sudden there came from above, like a thunderbolt from the skies, a sensational power that ended the conflict, and there lay the “old man” dead at my feet, and I was free from his grasp. Thank God! I could get a good free breath once more. It was an awful struggle, but the victory was won. That was about twenty years ago, but it is fresh in my memory yet. I was indeed sanctified wholly.”

  

Bulgarian Evangelical Churches in America (2017 Report)

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

bulgarian-church

CURRENTLY ACTIVE CHURCHES/CONGREGATIONS:

Bulgarian Evangelical Churches in Chicago (2017 Report)
Bulgarian Evangelical Churches in Texas (2017 Report)
Bulgarian Evangelical Churches – West Coast (2017 Report)

  • Los Angeles (occasional/outreach of the Foursquare Church – Mission Hills, CA)
  • Las Vegas (outreach of the Foursquare Church – http://lasvegaschurch.tv)
  • San Francisco (occasional/inactive since 2012, Berkeley University/Concord, CA)
  • Phoenix, Arizona

Bulgarian Evangelical Churches Canada (2017 Report)

  • Toronto (inactive since 2007)
  • Toronto/Slavic (active since 2009)
  • Montreal (occasional/inactive since 2012)

Atlanta (active since 1996)

CURRENTLY INACTIVE CHURCHES/CONGREGATIONS:

  • New York, NY (currently inactive)
  • Buffalo, NY  (occasional/inactive)
  • Jacksonville, FL  (occasional/inactive since 2014)
  • Ft. Lauderdale / Miami  (currently inactive)
  • Washington State, Seattle area (currently inactive)
  • Minneapolis, MN (occasional/inactive since 2015)

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AJ Tomlinson preaches at Tellico mountains: People laugh, cry and fall in the Spirit in 1907

May 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

AJ Tomlinson preaches at Tellico mountains: People laugh, cry and fall in the Spirit in 1907

Nov. 19.[1907] Just came home last night from the Tellico mountains, where I have been for a week holding meetings. Some good work done, the Spirit was present every service, at one service in a special manner. While I was preaching some laughed, about all cried, and one fell off his seat and just bellowed out in good fashion. Everyone present touched. I think every one in the house came to the altar. I was very calm, but surely the signs of God’s presence were manifest. I preached ten sermons on this trip. I am in quite a financial strait just now, but I believe God will help me out some way.

Richard G. Spurling became ordained Church of God pastor on September 26, 1886

April 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

I, James M. Beaty, who started this inquiry, am the retired Academic Dean of the Church of God Theological Seminary and in the process of doing historical research about Richard Spurling (1810-1891) and his son Richard Green Spurling (1857-1935) as they related to the early history of the Church of God. I have written a chapter on Richard but not on Richard Green (R.G.). I do not know if and when it might be published, and do not pretend that it has no mistakes. I would appreciate any feedback and corrections. What I am looking for is verifiable, documentable facts.

The SPURLIN FAMILY – Richard Greene Spurlin, Sr,, was born NC -1810 to James and Frances Hicks Spurlin. He married Nancy Jane Norman in Anderson County, TN, Jan. 7,1832. Marriage performed by J. Frost, M.O. Nancy was born 4/18/1815 and died 6/10/1878.

Richard was living in his parents’ home in Fentress Co. when the 1830 Census was taken. In 1840 – Rev. Richard Sprnlin received Entry 840 – on the waters of Clear Fork in Fentress County.On March 8,1841, he purchased from Arthur Edwards, for the sum of $160, 640 acres on the north side of Clear Fork of the Cumberland River. Richard and Nancy lived on these proper-ties, near his parents and his brother Daniel until around 1847, when they moved their young family to Morgan County, and took his aged parents to live with them.

During this time their family had grown considerably. They had James J., Ann Emmaline, Nathaniel Anderson, Daniel Eli Love, William A., and baby Elizabeth. While living in Morgan County, they became the parents of Hiram, Nancy and Richard Greene, Jr. By 1860, Richard and Nancy had moved to Monroe County, TN.

Richard, Nancy, James, James J. and Frances Spurlin and Annie “Pittman (Richard’s dau.) were “charter” members of the Clear Creek United Baptist Church of Christ of Morgan Co. which was constituted the 29th of Aug., 1852. Richard, after preaching for over 40 years, was greatly dissatisfied with his church. After two years of study and prayer. a meeting was called at the Barney Meetinghouse in Monroe County, TN. After prayer, a sermon was delivered by Richard G. Spurlin. Sr. emphasizing the need of a reformation. His arguments were very forceful and effective, and were approved by his hearers as was proven when the time arrived for action. The church chose Richard as its pastor and he was ordained the following month – 1886. The “Clinton (TN) Gazette” – 1891: Died – Richard Spurlin, a minister of the gospel from Monroe County, died last Friday. He was 81 years old.” He is buried in the Eleazer Cemetery in Madisonville, TN. Also member of Holly Springs Church.

Richard and Nancy’s children & spouses: James J. married Jerusha Pittman – Morgan Co.; Ann Emmaline married Reason Pittman, Mor-gan Co.; Nathaniel Anderson married 1) Mary Wallace – Monroe Co.; 2) Sarah C. Scott -Morgan Co.; 3) Rebecca Childress – Knox Co.; Daniel Eli Love married Mary DeHart; William A. mar. 1) Nancy Black (Monroe Co TN – 9/14/1861), 2) Nancy Scott (a sister to Sarah C. Scott); Elizabeth married ?; Hiram C. married 1) Mary Waldrop, 2) Jane Guffey; Nancy mar. ? Walls; and Richard Greene, Jr. married Barbara Hamby.

The Spurlin men traditionally ran lumber mills and grist mills. Records have been found indicating this from the earliest Spulins of proven ancestry – John, of Orange County, NC. right down the line. Richard, Sr cut 32 sets of grist mill wheels during his lifetime At least 3 sets can be found today. There is a beautiful white Methodist Church building in the Turtletown, TN area that Richard, Sr., and Richard, Jr., sawed the lumber for and constructed.

From the (Original) Church of God

After having taken plenty of time for consideration, the time and place for the meeting was arranged and announced. That day is worthy of remembrance: Thursday, August 19, 1886. The small company of humble, faithful, conscientious pilgrims met at the Barney Creek Meeting House, Monroe County, Tennessee. After prayer, a strong discourse was delivered by the Rev. Richard G. Spurling, emphasizing the need of a reformation. The arguments were full of force and proved effective, and were endorsed by the hearers so that when the time came for action there was free and earnest response. The propositions and obligations were simple. We give it below: “As many Christians as are here present that are desirous to be free from all men-made creeds and traditions, and are willing to take the New Testament, or law of Christ for your only rule of faith and practice; giving each other equal rights and privileges to read and interpret for yourselves as your conscience may direct, and are willing to set together as The Church of God to transact business as the same, come forward.” In response to this proposition eleven persons, whose names are given below, presented themselves and gave to each other the right hands of fellowship: Elder Richard Spurling, his son, R. G. Spurling, Susan Mitchell, Elizabeth Hamby, John Plemons, Sr., Polly Plemons, Barbara Spurling, Margaret Lauftus, Barbara Plemons, John Plemons, Jr., Adeline Lauftus, and two others, names not given. Then they decided to receive persons into membership who possessed a good Christian character, and that ordained and licensed ministers from other churches could retain their same position or office without being re-ordained. By virtue of the office he had held as a faithful ordained minister in the Missionary Baptist Church for a number of years, Elder Richard Spurling was duly acknowledged and recognized as their minister, to do all the business devolved on him as such in the new order. He then having been placed in authority by the body, took his seat as Moderator, and by prayer dedicated the infant church to God, imploring His guidance and blessings for it, and that it might grow and prosper, and accomplish great good. An invitation was then given for the reception of members, and they received Richard G. Spurling, who was then a Licensed Minister. The church chose him as their pastor, and had him ordained the next month, September 26, 1886.

Spurling and Tomlinson: Between Azusa Street and Cleveland

February 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

10 Scholarly Articles on Pentecostal vs. Chrismatics Theological Distinctives

January 15, 2017 by  
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Bulgarian vs Russian New Problematic Laws on Religion

January 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

As Bulgaria prepares to assume the Chairmanship of the 55-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), its Law on Religions is a concern, as several provisions are out of step with Bulgaria’s religious freedom commitments as an OSCE participating State. Reports of problems with the new law are already arising. The Sofia City Court, which is mandated to handle all registration applications, has reportedly stalled on the re-registration of some groups, as the new registration scheme includes additional elements not previously required. For instance, since visas are contingent on re-registration, the Missionary Sisters of Charity and the Salesians have reportedly been denied visas. Unfortunately, in the rush to approve the legislation in December 2002, some religious communities were reportedly not consulted during the drafting process, and the government’s promise to have the draft critiqued again by the Council of Europe went unfulfilled. Also, on July 15, 2003, the law was reviewed by the Bulgarian Constitutional Court, in response to a complaint brought by 50 Parliamentary deputies. The Court upheld the legislation, despite six judges ruling against and five in favor. Under Bulgarian law, seven of the court’s twelve judges must rule together for a law to be found unconstitutional. Notwithstanding this decision on the constitutionality of the law, the following report highlights areas in need of further evaluation and legislative refinement in light of Bulgaria’s OSCE commitments on religious freedom. Concerns exist with how the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is favored over the alternative Orthodox synod and other religious groups. In addition, the new registration scheme appears open to manipulation and arbitrary decisions, thereby jeopardizing property holdings and the ability to manifest religious beliefs, as both depend on official registration. The sanctions available under the Law on Religions are also ambiguous yet far-reaching, potentially restricting a variety of religious freedom rights. It is therefore hoped the Government of Bulgaria will demonstrate a good faith effort to ensure the religion law is in conformity with its OSCE commitments. This report outlines a number of suggested changes. The government could also submit the Law on Religions for technical review to the OSCE Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or the Council of Europe. Either of these bodies could highlight deficiencies addressable through amendments.

religious-law-and-abortion1GOVERNMENT RECOGNITION OF A “TRADITIONAL” CHURCH
Article 11 was crafted to force a resolution to the longstanding church dispute between the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and an alternative Orthodox synod, which split after the fall of communism. Article 11 enumerated detailed characteristics of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, thereby establishing the synod of Patriarch Maxim above the other Orthodox synod and all other religious communities. In short, Article 11(1) attempted to settle the church dispute through legislative fiat by establishing the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as the “traditional religion,” a politically expedient decision which is inconsistent with Bulgaria’s OSCE commitments.

While Article 11(2) automatically registers the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the other Orthodox synod is faced with going through the complete registration process. Registration is critical, as the law ties property ownership rights to legal personality. However, the process is open to manipulation where the government could deny registration to select religious groups. Considering the animosity between the Orthodox synods over property, this appears to place the unrecognized Orthodox synod at a great disadvantage. Article 11(3) does state: “Paragraph 1 and 2 cannot be the basis to grant privileges or any advantages [to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church] over other denominations by a law or sub-law.” However, while this claims no special benefits accrue, Article 11(2) is contradictory as it automatically gives the Bulgarian Orthodox Church legal personality, an “advantage” no other church or religious group receives through the law. Favoritism of this kind also creates internal conflicts within the religion law, as Article 3(1) prohibits limitations or privileges based on “affiliation or rejection of affiliation to a religion,” and Article 4(4) states “no religiously based discrimination shall be allowed.”

Considering the problematic nature of these provisions, removing Article 11(1) through amendment would allow these two religious Orthodox communities to reconcile their differences independently without government involvement. The appropriate venue for the handling of these types of disputes is the court system, not the Parliament . In addition, amending Article 11(2) either to allow automatic registration of all previously registered churches or omit entirely this provision would lessen the discriminatory effect of the law.

REGISTRATION
It is positive that the law does not require registration, nor does it establish temporal or numerical thresholds for religious communities to meet. Yet, the proper administration of the registration process has increased in importance, since many rights and powers of organizations and their communities appear tied to registration status and other avenues for legal personality have been closed. For example, Article 29(2) provides that nonprofit organizations do not have “the right to accomplish activities which represent practice of religion in public.” As a result, if a group does not obtain official registration as a “religious community,” no other options exist to provide some type of legal personality. The Law on Religions does provide guidelines for the registration process. Article 16 requires that all religious groups wishing to register must do so before the Sofia City Court. This is problematic, as it adds an unnecessary burden for groups existing outside the capital. Improvements to the law should allow the submission of national registration requests in every provincial capital court or other designated government office.

For local branches to form officially, Article 21 requires the organization to first register at the national level and then re-register at the local level through a mayor’s office. While the drafters intended this to be a perfunctory requirement, it is problematic, as it creates yet another unneeded bureaucratic hurdle to overcome. Additionally, the involvement of mayors in the registration of religious groups should be avoided, as in the past registration through mayoral offices were plagued by arbitrary and non-transparent decisions. Revisions should remove registration requirements obligating groups already registered to re-register at the local level. If local re-registration must occur, amendments should permit re-registration at a local court or other designated government office. The Article 19(2) requirement that a “short statement of religious beliefs” be included in an application, which can be reviewed by the Directorate of Religions for an “expert opinion” (Article 18), is highly problematic. This places the government in the subjective position of evaluating the beliefs of a religious community to determine if they “qualify” as a religion. Therefore, the removal of the Article 19(2) requirement is recommended, so that the Directorate of Religion cannot base recommendation for registration eligibility on the religious beliefs of an applicant group.

There are at least two instances in the Law on Religions that demonstrate the critical nature of registration. Article 5(3) appears to allow only registered religious organizations to engage in the public manifestation of religion. “The religious belief is expressed in private when it is accomplished from a specified member of the religious community or in the presence of persons belonging to the community, and in public, when its expression can as well become accessible for people not belonging to the respective religious community.” How the government will apply this article is unclear, as it attempts to distinguish the public versus the private practice of religion. If only registered religious organizations can publicly manifest their beliefs, this is inconsistent with OSCE commitments that protect the right to practice religion with or without legal entity status. It should consequently be made explicit through refining amendments that unregistered religious groups and their members have the right to engage in the public manifestation of their religious beliefs.

Furthermore, it is unclear if individual members of a religious community can own property in their personal capacity for use by the corporate body, as only registered communities can hold property under Article 24(1). The article states: “Religions and their branches, which have acquired status of a legal person, according to the procedures of this law shall have right to their own property.” This reenforces the importance of ensuring the registration process is timely and transparent. Amendments should make explicit that individual members of a religious community may own private property for use by the corporate body.

LIMITATION CLAUSE
Article 7(1) of the religion law provides: “Freedom of religions shall not be directed against national security, public order, people’s health and the morals or the rights and freedoms of persons under the jurisdiction of the republic of Bulgaria or other states.” This language is similar to other limitation clauses, but its structure is problematic, as it enunciates standards not found under Article 17 of the Vienna Concluding Document of the OSCE or Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. For example, the Vienna Concluding Document in Article 17 declared, “The participating States recognize that the exercise of the above-mentioned rights relating to the freedom of religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are provided by law and consistent with their obligations under international law and with their international commitments.” The next sentence is also an important qualifier, declaring States “will ensure in their laws and regulations and in their application the full and effective exercise of the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.” Article 18(3) of the ICCPR stated: “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”

It is well settled that restrictions on manifestations of belief must be consistent with the rule of law and must be necessary in a democratic society— directly related and proportionate to the specific need on which the limitation is predicated. For example, it is not enough to justify burdensome limitations by merely arguing they are key to maintaining public order. Only when limitations further a legitimate government objective and are genuinely “necessary” can negating a religious freedom be justified. To be sure, this test is not easily met. In addition, international custom has not established “national security” as a legitimate reason for limiting religious rights, so amendments to the law should correct Article 7 to reflect the abovementioned international standards.

SANCTIONS
Article 9 of the Law on Religions allows courts to impose sanctions against groups if they determine
that an Article 7 violation has occurred. The six available sanctions available under Article 9 include:
(1) Prohibiting dissemination of certain printed publications;
(2) Prohibiting publishing activity;
(3) Restricting public manifestations;
(4) Depriving registration of educational, health or social enterprises;
(5) Cancelling activities for a period of up to six months;
(6) Nullifying registration of the legal entity of the religion.

The Article 9 restrictions are vague yet extensive in their scope, potentially curtailing a variety of fundamental freedoms. Accordingly, the use of the Article 9 sanctions list must be predicated on a finding of abuse under the Article 7 limitations clause. However, the situations enumerated in Article 7 are for exceptional situations. As these sanctions touch upon fundamental rights, use of Article 9 and the denial of these rights should not occur for mere infractions of administrative regulations. As previously discussed, international commitments make clear that limitations on the manifestation of religion are permissible only in narrowly defined situations.

A distinction must also be made between the actions of individuals and punitive sanctions on the entire religious community. It is individuals, not whole religious groups, who may be involved in criminal activities, so penalties should not punish the entire community for the actions of individuals. However, provision (3) empowers courts to restrict the public manifestation of religious views for an entire religious community, in effect restricting an individual member’s right to practice his or her faith. Provision (6) is also a concern; if a court can remove a religious group’s registration status, it is unclear who would hold their property, potentially exposing their holdings to seizure.

Concerns exist that the Article 9 sanctions list will be employed in situations not meeting international standards, thereby allowing the restriction of the freedom of speech, the freedom to the religious education of children in conformity with the parent’s convictions, and the freedom to profess and practice, alone or in community with others, religion or belief. Therefore, removal through amendment of the Article 9 sanctions list would be positive, as it potentially allows overly burdensome restrictions on basic human rights. Further concerns over potential sanctions exist in other areas of the religion law. Later in Article 37(8), the law also gives the Directorate of Religion the unchecked and potentially arbitrary powers to take complaints from citizens concerning violations of Article 7, and when deemed appropriate, forward the complaints to the public prosecutor. Allowing the Directorate to function in this manner opens the opportunity for the politicization of religious freedom issues, potentially exposing the Directorate to pressures to act arbitrarily against certain minority religious communities. Consequently, legislators are encouraged to eliminate the ability of the Directorate of Religion to forward complaints to the public prosecutor, as this role is better left with law enforcement agencies.

Article 38 has established monetary penalties for “any person carrying out religious activity in the name of a religion without representational authority.” The provision appears crafted to penalize the unrecognized Orthodox synod for using what it considers to be its name, and could easily be misused against religious communities deemed by authorities as unpopular or out of favor.

property.” This reenforces the importance of ensuring the registration process is timely and transparent. Amendments should make explicit that individual members of a religious community may own private property for use by the corporate body.

LIMITATION CLAUSE
Article 7(1) of the religion law provides: “Freedom of religions shall not be directed against national security, public order, people’s health and the morals or the rights and freedoms of persons under the jurisdiction of the republic of Bulgaria or other states.” This language is similar to other limitation clauses, but its structure is problematic, as it enunciates standards not found under Article 17 of the Vienna Concluding Document of the OSCE or Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. For example, the Vienna Concluding Document in Article 17 declared, “The participating States recognize that the exercise of the above-mentioned rights relating to the freedom of religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are provided by law and consistent with their obligations under international law and with their international commitments.” The next sentence is also an important qualifier, declaring States “will ensure in their laws and regulations and in their application the full and effective exercise of the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.” Article 18(3) of the ICCPR stated: “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”

It is well settled that restrictions on manifestations of belief must be consistent with the rule of law and must be necessary in a democratic society— directly related and proportionate to the specific need on which the limitation is predicated. For example, it is not enough to justify burdensome limitations by merely arguing they are key to maintaining public order. Only when limitations further a legitimate government objective and are genuinely “necessary” can negating a religious freedom be justified. To be sure, this test is not easily met. In addition, international custom has not established “national security” as a legitimate reason for limiting religious rights, so amendments to the law should correct Article 7 to reflect the abovementioned international standards.

SANCTIONS
Article 9 of the Law on Religions allows courts to impose sanctions against groups if they determine
that an Article 7 violation has occurred. The six available sanctions available under Article 9 include:
(1) Prohibiting dissemination of certain printed publications;
(2) Prohibiting publishing activity;
(3) Restricting public manifestations;
(4) Depriving registration of educational, health or social enterprises;
(5) Cancelling activities for a period of up to six months;
(6) Nullifying registration of the legal entity of the religion.

The Article 9 restrictions are vague yet extensive in their scope, potentially curtailing a variety of fundamental freedoms. Accordingly, the use of the Article 9 sanctions list must be predicated on a finding of abuse under the Article 7 limitations clause. However, the situations enumerated in Article 7 are for exceptional situations. As these sanctions touch upon fundamental rights, use of Article 9 and the denial of these rights should not occur for mere infractions of administrative regulations. As previously discussed, international commitments make clear that limitations on the manifestation of religion are permissible only in narrowly defined situations.

A distinction must also be made between the actions of individuals and punitive sanctions on the entire religious community. It is individuals, not whole religious groups, who may be involved in criminal activities, so penalties should not punish the entire community for the actions of individuals. However, provision (3) empowers courts to restrict the public manifestation of religious views for an entire religious community, in effect restricting an individual member’s right to practice his or her faith. Provision (6) is also a concern; if a court can remove a religious group’s registration status, it is unclear who would hold their property, potentially exposing their holdings to seizure.

Concerns exist that the Article 9 sanctions list will be employed in situations not meeting international standards, thereby allowing the restriction of the freedom of speech, the freedom to the religious education of children in conformity with the parent’s convictions, and the freedom to profess and practice, alone or in community with others, religion or belief. Therefore, removal through amendment of the Article 9 sanctions list would be positive, as it potentially allows overly burdensome restrictions on basic human rights. Further concerns over potential sanctions exist in other areas of the religion law. Later in Article 37(8), the law also gives the Directorate of Religion the unchecked and potentially arbitrary powers to take complaints from citizens concerning violations of Article 7, and when deemed appropriate, forward the complaints to the public prosecutor. Allowing the Directorate to function in this manner opens the opportunity for the politicization of religious freedom issues, potentially exposing the Directorate to pressures to act arbitrarily against certain minority religious communities. Consequently, legislators are encouraged to eliminate the ability of the Directorate of Religion to forward complaints to the public prosecutor, as this role is better left with law enforcement agencies.

Article 38 has established monetary penalties for “any person carrying out religious activity in the name of a religion without representational authority.” The provision appears crafted to penalize the unrecognized Orthodox synod for using what it considers to be its name, and could easily be misused against religious communities deemed by authorities as unpopular or out of favor.

Christmas Book Sale: The CASE of a NATO CHAPLAINCY MODEL within the BULGARIAN ARMY

December 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Events, Featured, News, Publication, Research

In the past five years since 2011, we have authored over two dozen books related to our ministry and mission work in Eastern Europe. As several of the prints are now almost exhausted and second/third editions and several new titles are under way, we are releasing all currently available editions in a Christmas sale through the month of December. All titles are available at up to 30% off and Amazon offers free shipping and extra savings for bundle purchases.

Our book available on sale today is:

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

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaIn 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]:

Chronology of our role and involvement in developing Church of God chaplaincy in Bulgaria since 2001

History of Events
05/12 Anticipated Date for Graduation of the First Cohort of Master’s Program of Chaplaincy Ministry in Bulgaria

2011
09/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Module 3: Counceling Completed
07/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Module 2: Theology Completed
03/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program approved by the Educational Committee of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute
01/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Continues

2010
10/10 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Module 1: Chaplaincy Completed
09/10 Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program begins in Sofia, Bulgaria
06/10 Chaplaincy Conference and Master’s of Chaplaincy for Bulgaria
01/10 Proposal masters program finalized and submitted for approval to the Educational Committee of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute

2009
10/09 Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association holds an introductory chaplaincy course in Yambol, Bulgaria

2008
12/08 Family Seminar for Military Men and Women held in Yambol
11/08 Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association Annual Meeting
09/08 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Associations noted in Church of God publications
06/08 – The Case of a NATO Chaplaincy Model within the Bulgarian Army released
06/08 – Celebrating 10 Years of Military Ministry in Bulgaria

2007
10/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Associations Recognized by U.S. Department of State
07/07 – National Chaplaincy Conference in Yambol, Bulgaria
03/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association was officially registered
02/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association gains legal status
01/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Assassination noted by international religious freedom watch dog Forum 18

2006
12/06 – Registration Rejected Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association by Bulgarian court
11/06 – A master program in chaplaincy ministry has been proposed for the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in Sofia
10/06 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association Founder’s Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria
10/06 – A contextualized course for chaplaincy ministry is offered at the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in Sofia
08/06 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association’s Resolution No. 1 sets course toward chaplaincy in churches, education and government institutions
07/06 – National Chaplaincy Meeting in Yambol, Bulgaria
06/06 – Meeting with NATO Chaplains
05/06 – Cup & Cross Ministries submitted a research paper to NATO’s Manfred Wörner Foundation dealing with the case of underground chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Armed Forces
03/06 – A contextualized course for chaplaincy ministry was offered in Veliko Turnovo
02/06 – www.kapelanstvo.com was released to serve as the official website of the chaplaincy movement in Bulgaria

2005
10/05 – A national training seminar held in Veliko Turnovo
10/05 – The Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association was presented before the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance
09/05 – Regional meeting in Nova Zagora which addressed the current issues
08/05 – A regional chaplaincy meeting in Sliven
07/05 – Publication of camouflage New Testaments and Bibles, some of which we distributed to Bulgarian army personal including the divisions currently serving in Iraq

2004-2001

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