Sanctuary Gateway Cities for Eastern European Slavic and Bulgarian Immigrant Churches in North America

April 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

bulgarian-churchSince 1994 Cup & Cross Ministries International has assisted churches across the United States and has strategically planned and developed a process which incorporates Bulgarian Evangelical Churches in North America. The first success of this endeavor was the establishment of the Bulgarian Evangelical Church of God in Chicago in 1995.

The Bulgarian Church of God in Chicago followed a rich century-long tradition, which began with the establishing of Bulgarian churches and missions in 1907. (read the history) Consecutively, our 1995 Church Starting Paradigm was successfully used in various studies and models in 2003. The program was continuously improved in the following decade, proposing an effective model for leading and managing growing Bulgarian churches.

Based on the Gateway cities in North America and their relations to the Bulgarian communities across the continent, it proposed a prognosis toward establishing Bulgarian churches (see it here) and outlined the perimeters of their processes and dynamics in the near future (read in detail). Since 1995 twelve more Bulgarian churches have been started in strategic immigration gateways across the United States and Canada. For the past four years our team have been involved in the process of establishing Bulgarian congregations in Atlanta, Phoenix and San Francisco. Read complete paper (PDF)

Toward Context of Ministry Applications
In the beginning of the 21st century the Protestant Church in Bulgaria is entering a new constitutional era in the history of the country. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the political and economic challenges in Eastern Europe have strongly affected the Evangelical Churches. More than ever before, they are in need of reformation in doctrines and praxes in order to adjust to a style of worship liberated from the dictatorship of the communist regime. In order to guarantee the religious freedom for our young, democratic society, the Protestant Movement in Bulgaria needs a more dynamic representation. Such can be provided only by people who will create a balance between the old atheistic structures and the new contemporary, nontraditional style of ministry.

Similar is the case among Bulgarian Evangelical Churches in North America which also share analogue dynamics with congregations of Latin American immigrants. Several facts are obvious from such comparison. It is apparent that Bulgarian immigrants come to North America in ways similar as other immigrant groups. Large cities which are gateways for immigrants are probable to become a settlement for Bulgarian immigrants due to the availability of jobs, affordable lodging and other immigrants from the same ethnic group.

The emerging Bulgarian immigrant communities share religious similarities and belongingness which are factors helping to form the communities. As a result of this formation process, the Bulgarian Evangelical Churches in North America emerge. It also seems natural to suggest that as this process continues, Bulgarian Evangelical Churches will be formed in other gateway cities and other large cities which meet the requirements to become a gateway city. Such has been the case with Latin American churches. If this is true, it should be proposed that the Bulgarian Churches in North America follow a strategy for church planting and growth which targets these types of cities.

It is encouraging, at the same time, to observer that one of the positive estimates provided by our doctoral project is also coming to reality. In 2002-2004, based on analyses provided by the New Religious Immigrants Project, our research suggested that the next Bulgarian Evangelical Church will be established in the last of the Seven American Gateway Cities which was still without a Bulgarian Church, namely the city of San Francisco. Our resent visit in the area of the Bay Area showed that this prediction is already progressing into a reality as the Bulgarian Diaspora there is already producing a Bible study group out of uniting Bulgarian college students from Barkley and young computer professionals in the area.

Geographical Location of Bulgarian American Churches and Gateway Cities.

Currently, Bulgarian Evangelical Churches are located in cities which have a high concentration of foreign-born immigrants. Such cities are called gateway cities, a large immigrant point-of-entry city to the United States. Immigrants typically enter the United States through one of these cities and settle there. Such cities contain over half of the foreign-born population in the United States. There are Bulgarian Evangelical Churches active in six of the seven gateway cities as follows:

Bulgarian Evangelical Churches in Gateway Cities

Gateway City Foreign Born Percent of Foreign Born Bulgarian Church
1. New York, NY 3,657,269 18.7% Yes
2. Los Angeles, CA 3,944,828 27.1% Yes
3. Houston, TX 460,380 12.3% Yes
4. Washington, DC 578,786 8.6% No
5. Miami, FL 1,072,843 33.6% Yes
6. Chicago, IL 914,58 11.1% Yes
7. San Francisco, CA 1,250,693 20.0% No

usmap

Several facts are obvious from the above comparison. It is apparent that Bulgarian immigrants come to North America in ways similar to other immigrant groups, channeled through the listed gateway cities. Large cities which are gateways are more probable to become a settlement for Bulgarian immigrants due to the availability of jobs, lodging and other immigrants from the same ethnic group. The emerging Bulgarian immigrant communities share religious similarities and belongingness which are factors helping to form the communities. As a result of this process of formation of Bulgarian immigrant communities, the Bulgarian Evangelical Churches in North America emerge. It also seems natural to suggest that as this process continues, Bulgarian Evangelical Churches will be formed in the remaining two gateway cities (Washington, D.C. and San Francisco) and other large cities which meet the requirements to become a gateway city (for example, the city Atlanta). If this is true, it should be proposed that the Bulgarian Churches in North America follow a strategy for church planting and growth which targets this type of cities. With all this in mind, the Unrealized Spiritual Harvest of Bulgarian Churches in North America remains unforgiving in history…

 

Resources for Further Study:

 

 

 

Political row in Bulgaria over European Parliament migration resolution

February 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News

european-parliament-photo-ec-audiovisual-service-604x272

Bulgaria’s largest parliamentary party GERB and the nationalist Patriotic Front coalition have launched verbal attacks on the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, saying their MEPs backed a European Parliament resolution that effectively encourages illegal migration.

The 93-point resolution on human rights and migration in third countries was adopted by the European Parliament on October 25.

At a news briefing in the National Assembly, GERB MP Galia Zaharieva quoted extracts from the EP resolutio on the need “to avoid creating separate districts for migrants, by promoting inclusion and the opportunity to take up all the social opportunities on offer”; and that the EP “considers that migration is recognised globally as being a powerful tool for sustainable and inclusive development.”

Zaharieva said that the resolution indicated that migration was beneficial. At the same time, she hit out at the opposition parties, including the BSP, for being critical about the Bulgarian government’s handling of migration and she accused the opposition of being alarmist in making false claims about the migration situtation in Bulgaria.

Valeri Simeonov, co-leader of the nationalist Patriotic Front, a minority partner in the coalition government arrangement, said that the BSP and MRF MEPs who had backed the resolution should be withdrawn from their posts and replaced by others further down the lists.

Simeonov said that the EP resolution had been adopted by 339 to 333 votes, meaning that the votes of the Bulgarian MEPs had been crucial to it being approved. He described the resolution as “dangerous and harmful” to Bulgaria because the country was at the forefront “of this new war with migration”.

“We cannot accept as normal that, with furious anger and enthusiasm and the aggressive egomania of a rising folk music singer, the leader of the BSP travels Bulgaria, inspiring fear and terror in people that a refugee camp will be opened in every village, and at the same time, the representatives of the same party stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, with the MRF to vote for a decision so harmful and dangerous to Bulgaria,” Simeonov said.

BSP leader Kornelia Ninova said that her party distanced itself from the resolution, which she described as inconsistent with the BSP’s policies. The MEPs would be asked next week to explain to a meeting of the BSP executive bureau why they had supported the resolution, Ninova said.

The row comes just more than a week before Bulgarians go to the polls in the first round of presidential elections, in which nationalists and socialist candidates have sought to make illegal migration and refugees a campaign issue.

New European Union Border Guard Launched to Protect Bulgaria-Turkey Border

October 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News

bulgaria-turkey-fenceAs of October 6, 2016 Bulgaria starts to play an increasingly important role in protecting its own borders and those of Europe, EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos has said.  Avramopoulos has attended the launch the European Border and Coast Guard at the Bulgarian border with Turkey, at the crossing point of Kapitan Andreevo. The agency, which will have some EUR 320 M in funding until 2020, is a result of the expansion of Frontex, the current EU external border agency, which has been severely criticized for inefficiency since the outbreak of the migrant crisis last year.

“As a front line state, Bulgaria has made coherent and everyday effort in this direction,” the Bulgarian National Radio quotes Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova, who has attended the inauguration, as saying. “I am confident that, starting today [Thursday], the new service for European border and coast guard will contribute substantially for the more effective management of the land, air and sea borders and will substantially boost the level of security of the European Union.”

The establishment of the guard was agreed in December 2015 as a response to the surging migratory pressure on the EU’s external borders, with some 1.5 million people having crossed into the EU between January and November 2015. “The European Border and Coast Guard combines the resources of the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency, built from Frontex, and the Member States’ authorities responsible for border management,” the EU Commission says in a statement.

Toward a Pentecostal Solution to the Refugee Crises in the European Union

October 30, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

SyriaCrisisRefugees0215Rev. Dony K. Donev, M.Div., D.Min.

We saw them everywhere during our ministry trips through Europe. Long columns of dark bearded men, covered women and malnourished, underdressed little children. They fill the refuge villages in Bulgaria near the Turkish border. Many of them were forced to travel in long trains from Austria to Hungary, Germany and all the way to the large Muslim ghettoes of Amsterdam and East Berlin. And even at the Dover side of the English Channel, where tens of miles long truck columns were parked directly on the interstate waiting for the refugees to pass with the ferryboats.

Every minister/missionary should at least wonder about a solution to this largest migration wave of the century. What is the proper human, Biblical approach toward these people regardless if they are persecuted Christians, migrating terrorists or just refugees without a country? What would be the Pentecostal (in the Spirit of Pentecost) response to their fate?

Several outspoken Pentecostal denominations have already raised awareness to the issue with a call for a “Christian assimilation.” Frankly, “assimilation” as an anthropological term is outdated even in the most assimilative cultures in the world. In the United States, once a melting pot of ethnos and cultures, modern day emigration takes terms in creating subcultures. In such cultural setting, assimilation is fairly hard to achieve and quite imperialistic as an approach. It is also not a religious term – the proper faith language being “proselytizing.” Even the Bible states that at the end “every tongue shall confess” picturing a multitude of ethnoses, not merely one assimilated culture. With all this, a call for cultural assimilation on part of Christianity borders a call for crusades, even the thought of which is inapplicable in 21st century’s society.

On the part of Islam, a Muslim subculture allowing assimilation without conflict and resistance will be practically impossible to achieve. And how exactly do you convert with words in a culture that allows speaking only to men? We all know of ministries or missions that have done successful work among Muslims, but what is observed in today’s context of ministry among Muslim migrants is unfamiliar to even experienced missionaries. A Muslim subculture is being created so fast, so vast and so unified throughout European Union countries, that it threatens to assimilate the Christian local host-culture before being assimilated or culturized within Western Christendom. Pentecostal churches throughout Europe are simply not prepared for such challenge, as confirm leaders of “Maranatha Ministries,” the largest Pentecostal church in the Netherlands.

The single greatest challenge is perhaps that the Islamic culture is not like any of the known subcultures in the Western World. While Hispanics focus on their language and Asians accent on their heritage and predecessors, the Islamic subcultures are being centralized around the Sharia Law. The newly forming subculture then is not simply ethnic or heritage oriented, but a legal precedent – often in direct contradiction with the law of the land. How do we engage the Sharia Law mindset with the law of Grace to effectively penetrate with the Message of Salvation such closely guarded culture, will be the answer to this current dilemma of ministry. Although not a complete solution, the following practical steps are much more Christ like and suitable to the situation than a theoretical assimilation, which may prove to be nothing more than a 21st century crusade:

  1. Fast from your daily Starbucks (Costa, or coffee brand of your choice) for a month. With the money you can sponsor one refugee child out of starvation. The cost is the same, but saving a child tastes much better than java
  2. Team up with a Pentecostal church in Europe, which is directly working within the refugee camps. It will not be hard to find one as only a few Pentecostal churches in Western Europe are involved in refugee work
  3. Prayerfully consider going to Europe yourself and contribute your time and resources toward a refugee camp.

European Delights: A Sweet Journey Through Europe

April 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

European DelightsCakes, cookies, custards, puddings, candies, fried dough, pies and pastries. From the unconventional, recipes of Albanian Walnut Lemon Cake and Lithuanian Poppy Seed Cookies to the classic Tiramisu and Macaroon recipes, this cookbook takes your taste buds on a sweet journey throughout Europe. Desserts have come a long way since the dried fruits of the ancient civilizations as the first candies to soufflés and cakes once sugar began to be manufactured in the Middle Ages. This cookbook contains some of both the simple and more advanced recipes of Europe. It features 40 authentic dessert recipes representing nearly every European country and with each recipe there is a story to tell. The word “dessert” originated from the French word desservir “to clean the table” and these delights will make you want to clean your table a bit faster.