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

October 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

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

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

Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals

June 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Slide15Research presentation prepared for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, Seattle, 2013 – Lakeland, 2015, thesis in partial fulfillment of the degree of D. Phil., Trinity College

In conclusion, it must be noted that like many other places around the world, Bulgarian Pentecostalism began and continues to be in the periphery of both social and religious life. The movement has been persecuted as new, extreme, outcast and even satanic, but in the end Pentecostalism prevailed from the periphery. The only problem with holding strong in the periphery of society is that you spend all your money, all your time, all your motivation, everything you have to change the center – to change reality itself. It demands an extreme internal passion to continue and to become a movement of social influence. For the external observer this makes no sense. The time and resources spent could be so much helpful somewhere else. Perhaps, in an environment that is more suitable for the center – more controlled by the center. And an environment that does not make the center look bad.

But when this environment is not the center itself, then the periphery becomes a public enemy to the centralized society and is discarded as crazy, obscene and even inhumane. To the point that after giving it all, you start to feel like it was all spent for nothing.

Then you get back to the mission that is more important than our feelings or emotions and convince yourself with all you have left, that the end result is worthy. And then one day you wake up in the center of reality. Even more, you become the center of reality.

And the question remaining is how to balance the center with the periphery. If we were always in the center of culture, religion and economics, we would have never heard the voice of the God of the periphery. The God of the enslaved, oppressed, persecuted, poor, sick and suffering – God of the miraculous…

Pacifism as a Social Stand for Holiness among Early Bulgarian Pentecostals

May 30, 2015 by  
Filed under Events, Missions, News

Slide15Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals (Research presentation prepared for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, Seattle, 2013 – Lakeland, 2015, thesis in partial fulfillment of the degree of D. Phil., Trinity College)

When Pentecostalism began to spread rapidly in Bulgaria in the 1920s, it was viewed hostile as by both Protestant and Orthodox traditions. Not fasting during lent and not sacrificing for the dead, not honoring Mary or the saints was all detrimental in the formation of the identity of Pentecostal churches in Bulgaria. Even insignificant things like not wearing a cross, or not making the sign of the cross and not lighting candles and incense were noticed and severely criticized by the surrounding culture. And of course not drinking alcohol in Bulgaria and the Pentecostal abstinence was met with enormous opposition from other religious groups. Along with that any benevolence, social involvement, spiritual upbringing of minors (including sport actives) was all condemned as harmful protestant propaganda.

But one specific evangelical stand could never be forgiven – the protestant pacifism in the form of conscientious objection against carrying arms. For the newly re-born Balkan state, in a place where war has been ongoing for centuries, to refusal to go to war was essentially to refuse to be a Bulgarian.

The pacifism of Bulgaria’s evangelicals was silent but powerful against both Hitler’s fascism and the militant atheism of the coming Communist Regime. Their deep Christian conviction simply did not allow them to kill, carry a weapon, imprison another human being, swear allegiance to the communist state or take orders from another authority but God. And for their stand, many ministers and believers paid a heavy price. About 40 ministers and members of the Bulgarian Church of God alone were sentenced to hard prison labor for noncompliance with the mandatory military service. Hundreds more known and unknown believers from other evangelical churches followed.

Doctrine of Free Will among Bulgarian Protestant and Pentecostal Believers

May 10, 2015 by  
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Slide11by Dony K. Donev, D.Min.

Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals (Research presentation prepared for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, Seattle, 2013 – Lakeland, 2015, thesis in partial fulfillment of the degree of D. Phil., Trinity College)

Another peculiar characteristic present among early Pentecostals around the globe was the subject of free will. This was not a problem for the movement in Bulgaria. As strange as it may sound, among all publications and teachings by missionaries in Bulgaria during the 19th century there is no mention of Calvinism, election or predestination. Because Bulgaria’s traditional Eastern Orthodox orientation, both Congregational and Methodist missionaries taught Armenian free will. Even though many Bulgarian ministers were educated in the Calvinistic schools like Princeton and Auburn, Calvinism never picked up among Bulgarian Protestants. With the explosive growth of Bulgaria’s Pentecostals in the 1920s, this Armenian theological heritage was widely accepted amongst the movement.

Sanctification and Personal Holiness among Early Bulgarian Pentecostals

May 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

Slide11by Dony K. Donev, D.Min.

Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals (Research presentation prepared for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, Seattle, 2013 – Lakeland, 2015, thesis in partial fulfillment of the degree of D. Phil., Trinity College)

With all said about the importance of Spirit baptism and the importance of the Trinity in the Pentecostal experience of the believer, it comes as a great surprise that sanctification was never mentioned as a specific doctrine among early Bulgarian Pentecostals. Voronaev’s teaching included: (1) salvation through new birth, (2) baptism with the Holy Spirit, (3) healing and (4) the second return of Christ. Sanctification was never specifically mentioned as a separate doctrine.

To this day, sanctification is not an official doctrine for the Evangelical Methodist Episcopal Church of Bulgaria. In 1928, Bulgaria’s Pentecostal Union also included holiness as number ten in their first bylaws. Sanctification was not defined as a second work of grace, but as a “continuous life of holiness”. With the enormous theological Methodist influence, it is astounding that the doctrine of sanctification was never taught as a separate work of grace. Even when after Pentecostalism spread in Bulgaria, it was not included in the tri-fold formula for “spiritual fullness” of the believer.

Nevertheless, the search for a deeper spirituality was always there. When liberal theology entered Bulgaria in the beginning of the 20th century, the more conservative believers were forced to separate from the larger city congregations into home services and cottage meetings.

These small communities were enclosed, but easily identified by their extreme personal asceticism. There was no use of instruments in worship, no denominational structure and a distinct social disengagement from the world. Men shaved their heads completely and grew long mustaches. They wore no dress ties, because they pointed downward toward hell. Women wore head coverings as a sign for the angels both within and outside church services. Even the mother of Bulgaria’s Pentecostalism, Olga Zaplishny, who was college educated and spent years in the United States wore a head cover and enforced all ladies to follow her example.

Doctrine of the Trinity among Early Bulgarian Pentecostals

May 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

Slide11by Dony K. Donev, D.Min.

Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals (Research presentation prepared for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, Seattle, 2013 – Lakeland, 2015, thesis in partial fulfillment of the degree of D. Phil., Trinity College)

The Doctrine of the Trinity was not foreign for the Eastern Orthodox mindset of the first Bulgarian Pentecostals. They grew in a spiritual context where eastern pneumotology historically promoted the graduate process of theism development, with the Spirit being involved in both original creation of the world and the new-birth of the believer. For them, God’s work did not end there, but continued throughout a process of personal sanctification of the believer. This gradual process would have the same triune characteristics as of the triune God, providing the believer an experience with each person of the Trinity.

The historically inherited value of the Trinity is evident in the Bylaws of the Pentecostal Union where it was listed second only to the verbal inspiration of the Bible. As ordained Assemblies of God ministers, both Zaplishny and Voronaev subscribed to the 1916 Statement of Fundamental Truths, which resolved the “oneness controversy” and because of that were unquestionably Trinitarian. All documents from the time period prove that the movement they started in Eastern Europe followed their theological teachings.

Water Baptism among early Bulgarian Pentecostals

April 30, 2015 by  
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Slide11by Dony K. Donev, D.Min.

Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals (Research presentation prepared for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, Seattle, 2013 – Lakeland, 2015, thesis in partial fulfillment of the degree of D. Phil., Trinity College)

The sacrament of water baptism was not new for Bulgarian believers. But Pentecostals did NOT accept infant baptism. Converts who were baptized as babies or any other Eastern Orthodox ritual were re-baptized before being received in the church. Among early Bulgarian Pentecostals, baptism was always done outside in “running water.” It was also considered mandatory for salvation as Bulgaria’s early Pentecostals insisted on spiritual fullness including: (1) salvation, (2) water baptism and (3) baptism with the Spirit. This formula of spiritual experience satisfied the witness of blood, water and Spirit (1 Jn. 5:8) on earth and corresponded with the triune God in heaven (1 Jn. 5:7), from whom the believer’s spiritual experience originated.

Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals

April 15, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News, Research

Slide2

by Dony K. Donev, D.Min.

Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals (Research presentation prepared for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, Seattle, 2013 – Lakeland, 2015, thesis in partial fulfillment of the degree of D. Phil., Trinity College)

Protestant work in Bulgaria began in 1815 when agents of British and Foreign Bible Society, Robert Pinkerton (1780-1859) and Benjamin Barker (d.1859), initiated a search for Bible translators in the spoken Bulgarian vernacular. As a result a new translation of the New Testament in Bulgaria was published in 1840 and the whole Bible in 1871.

By the liberation of Bulgaria from Turkish Yoke in 1878 Protestantism was well established in Bulgaria. Graduates from Protestant Robert’s College became prominent politicians in the new Bulgarian state. When the first Pentecostal missionaries arrived in 1920, they found a century old protestant tradition in Bulgaria.

Presenting at the Society for Pentecostal Studies in Southeastern University on “Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals” (Part 2)

January 25, 2015 by  
Filed under News, Publication, Research

Presenting at the Society for Pentecostal Studies in Southeastern University on “Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals” (Part 2)

Presenting at the Society for Pentecostal Studies in Seattle Pacific University on “Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals” (Part 1)

March 10, 2013 by  
Filed under News, Publication, Research

Presenting at the Society for Pentecostal Studies in Seattle on “Historical and Doctrinal Formation of Holiness Teachings and Praxis among Bulgarian Pentecostals” (Part 1)

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