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  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

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

Chicago’s Narragansett Church of God Celebrates 70 Years

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

Rev. James Slay of the Narragansett Church of God in Chicago was commissioned to write the book entitled, THIS WE BELIEVE in connection to the 1948 Church of God Declaration of Faith.  During the forties, you could see him driving around Cleveland in a white and green Packard. His hair was much longer then and somewhat wavy. Later, he was heard preaching a sermon at the Narragansett Church of God in Chicago a sermon titled: “God setteth the door ajar and flings it wide open when necessary.”

On August 30, 1948, the Church of God General Assembly adopted the Church of God Declaration of Faith. Rev. James L. Slay was the chair of the committee that drafted the 14 item statement. Along with its adoption, the Assembly also recommended: “That the same Articles of Faith Committee, consisting of James L. Slay, Earl P. Paulk, Glenn C. Pettyjohn, J.L. Goins, J.A. Cross, Paul H. Walker, R.P. Johnson, E.M. Ellis, and R.C. Muncy, prepare a full document of the ‘Articles of Faith of the Church of God,’ to be presented for acceptance at the next General Assembly of the Church of God.” Despite the General Assembly recommendation, the Declaration of Faith has not been modified since its adoption in 1948.

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5 Pentecostal Discussions on the Full Five Fold Everlasting Gospel

October 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

What is a “full gospel” ? John Kissinger [03/31/2015 3:47 PM] W. Faupel defined Full Gospel within the doctrinal themes of: 1) justification by…

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The Everlasting Gospel: The Significance of Eschatology in the Development of Pentecostal Thought by D.W. Faupel follows the following outline: 1. The Pentecostal Message:…

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Cup & Cross Publications and Presentations

July 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Publication, Research

Cup & Cross Ministries International Presentations by Year:

2004 Postcommunist Believers in a Postmodern World at the Lilly Fellows Research Conference, Samford University

2005 Bulgarian Churches in North America at the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance Annual Meeting – Chicago

2005 Internal Motivation at the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association Quarterly Meeting – Bulgaria

2006 Introductory Chaplaincy Training Course at the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association Quarterly Meeting – Bulgaria

2006 The Story of the Bulgarian Bible at Evangelical Theological Society – Washington, DC

2007 Bulgarian American Congregations: Cultural, Economic, Leadership Dimensions at Society for Pentecostal Studies

2009 Using Bible Technologies in a Censured Context: The Case of Postcommunist Bulgaria at BibleTech – Seattle

2009 How to Do Ministry on the Internet at Leadership Development Institute – Cleveland, TN

2010 The Untold Story of the Life and Ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev at Society for Pentecostal Studies – Minneapolis

2010 Using Computer Technologies in the Making of the New Bulgarian Translation of the Bible at BibleTech – San Jose

2010 Bulgaria: The Road to Democracy at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, NE

2011 How to Broadcast Your Church Services for Free at Leadership Development Institute – Cleveland, TN

2011 The (un)Forgotten: The Story of Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s Children at Society for Pentecostal Studies – Memphis

2013 The Video Bible Project on the Internet at BibleTech – Seattle

2015 Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals at Society for Pentecostal Studies at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL

Cup & Cross Ministries International Publications by Year:

January 1994, “Going Up”, Christian News, Newspaper of the Bulgarian Church of God

1998-2003, Commentary on the Gospel of John for the Bulgarian On-Line Bible [http://www.bibliata.com]

September 2000, To Harvard and Back a Hundred Years Later (A Biographical Sketch of Stoyan K. Vatralsky)

May 2001, Pentecostal Primitivism Preserved

March 2002, Sunday School Lesson Series

April 2005-2010, Bulgarian Protestant History Series in the Bulgarian Evangelical Newspaper

April 2005-2010, About the Bible Series in the Bulgarian Evangelical Newspaper

Fall 2005, Postcommunist Believers in a Postmodern World in East-West Church & Ministry Report

Spring 2006, When East Met West in East-West Church & Ministry Report

July 2006, Roberts College in Pro & Anti Newspaper

July, 2007-2009 Letters from Bulgaria: A Series on Bulgarian Pentecostal Heritage in Pentecostal Evangel

2008 Analytical Overview and Church Planting Proposal for Bulgarian American Congregations Considering Cultural, Economic and Leadership Dimensions

2009 Pentecostal Primitivism

2010 About the Bible, a monograph on the history of the Bulgarian Bible

2011 Tetraevangelion: The Complete Works of the Gospel Writers in the New Bulgarian Translation Series (2007-2013)

2012 Bulgarian Study New Testament

2015 Complete Greek-Bulgarian Interlinear of the New Testament

Current Context of Chaplaincy in Bulgaria

June 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

BH6KRJ Dirty hands holding an old bible. Very short depth-of-field

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 fall of the Berlin Wall introduced a new reality that Bulgaria was not prepared to embrace. The end of Communism was unable to tear down the communist mentality. Today, an entire Bulgarian generation lives with the scars inflicted by their experience under years of the Communist Regime, while another generation lives with an immense historical gap that has formed a new political, social, economical and cultural reality.

Three points are worth noting about Bulgaria’s Postcommunist context. First, in the beginning of the 21st century Bulgaria is left with armed forces, which were organized and influenced by the Soviet model and still act accordingly. The bureaucratic infrastructure disallows and discourages any changes apart from carefully chosen decisions that keep the army’s activities to the minimum possible. The two main factors needed for any change to occur, namely decision-making processes and chain of command, still operate under an Eastern Soviet paradigm.

Second, atheistic morale has gained the status of a positive military qualification in the Bulgarian military. This may sound familiar for any given army; however, in most cases it replaces a religious attitude with an atheistic one. In the Postcommunist context, atheistic beliefs pervade and even when a soldier experiences a genuine need for spirituality, in most cases s/he has no religious root to which to return. This lack of alternative or spiritual choice results in a pessimistic morale, intensified by the required mandatory military services.

Third, a Postcommunist mentality with definite Balkan characteristics rules not only the army but also the country as a whole. The economical, political and cultural crises have remained an undividable part of Bulgaria’s reality in the past 16 years. There, Postcommunist mentality holds captive every progressive thought and idea.

It is natural to conclude that the active solider within the Bulgarian Armed Forces is left without much choice when it comes to his/her personal and spiritual development. A positive career development is possible only when pressed by the economical factors one accepts to be part of a highly inactive bureaucratic machine. On the other hand, any attempt for spiritual growth is constrained and receives little privilege to become fully expressed. Naturally, such dynamics decrease one’s motivation for further development due to the lack of morale emerging from a personal spirituality. And because an army without a spirit is no army at all, the current condition of the Bulgarian Army is in much need of revival.

Also important [click to read]:

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.

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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)

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