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

Celebrating 25 Years in the Ministry

November 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

We’ve completed another successful term of ministry for 2015 marking a decade since the start of Mission BULGARIA in 2005 and also our 25th anniversary in the ministry. From humble beginnings in September of 1990, God has taken us to a full quarter century of ministry literally throughout the globe.

As the Thanksgiving season is now upon us, we will be commemorating this event more extensively with a series called “25 Years of Miracles.” The series contains testimonies with various healings and miracles from our ministry, which we’ve collected and recorded through the years.

We are grateful to the Lord for giving us the opportunity to preach the Gospel and be a part of your life through our ministry. Thank you for your partnership and friendship through the years and Happy Thanksgiving!

25yers

What should churches and ministries know about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding same-sex marriage

August 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, News

SOURCE: Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling, holding that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. The decision also requires states to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed in another state.

The Case: Obergefell v. Hodges
This case began when a same-sex couple from Cincinnati, Ohio, filed a lawsuit alleging state discrimination against same-sex couples who have been lawfully married in another state. John Arthur was terminally ill and sought to name his partner, James Obergefell, as his surviving spouse, but was unable to do so under Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban. The Director of the Ohio Department of Health, Richard Hodges, was named as the defendant in the case. As the case made its way through the appellate courts, other same-sex couples joined in the complaint. And as the case continued to progress, the question before the courts became whether Ohio’s refusal to recognize marriages legally performed in other states violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

A Landmark Decision
In its decision, the Court began by recognizing the history of the subject of marriage, noting it is one of both “continuity and change.” The Court then applied the following reasoning in making its determination that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex:

1) The fundamental liberties protected under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment extend to certain personal choices, and among those is the right to marry.

2) Because marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy, supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the individuals involved, safeguards children and families, and is the “keystone of the Nation’s social order,” marriage is a constitutional right.

3) The right of same-sex couples to marry also is derived from the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

4) Because the right to marry is a fundamental right “inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment,” couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.

The Religious Organization “Carve Out”
The Court then added a “carve out” for “religions and those who adhere to religious doctrines” by stating:

Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate. The Constitution, however, does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex.

Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas noted in their dissents that the First Amendment guarantees the right to “exercise” religion. Chief Justice Roberts further noted that “exercise” is a word that the majority omitted from their opinion. So while this provision acknowledges the First Amendment rights of religious organizations to teach principles that are central to their lives and faiths, the dissenting justices expressed concern that it may not be broad enough to encompass the full exercise of those rights.

Chief Justice Roberts also noted that, “Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage.” He then offered the following examples:

1) A religious college that provides married student housing only to opposite-sex couples.

2) A religious adoption agency that declines to place children with same-sex married couples.

3) The tax-exempt status of some religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriage.

Chief Justice Roberts went on to state that there is “little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court.” It seems likely that future cases will ultimately determine the full scope and effect of this decision for churches and other religious organizations.

So What Does This Mean for Churches?
This ruling does not appear to take away any of the rights that religious organizations currently have under the law. Still, the ruling leaves unanswered questions that may lead to confusion and concern for ministries. Common concerns include whether a pastor must perform a same-sex wedding ceremony, whether a church must make its facilities available for same-sex wedding events, and if a church must provide same-sex spousal benefits to employees.

Communicate Expectations to Limit Lawsuits
All ministries should have biblically based beliefs and policies documented in the bylaws, articles, and other foundational documents of the organization. Stating the ministry’s beliefs, along with applicable reference to scripture in governing documents, can help avoid claims of improper discrimination. Churches and ministries will do well to clearly communicate that the ministry’s positions and policies are based on sincerely held religious beliefs.

Statement of belief: Include a statement of the ministry’s spiritual beliefs within the organization’s governing documents or bylaws. This lays the foundation for the ministry to operate in accordance with its stated beliefs.

Consistent response: If the church or ministry treats an individual or a group of people differently than it does another person or group, the odds of the ministry losing a lawsuit increase significantly. For example, if the organization offers its event center for rent to the general public yet declines to allow a same-sex couple to rent the facility, the individual whom the church declined may have a valid claim of discrimination.

Take Steps to Avoid a Lawsuit
To reduce the likelihood of an individual bringing a successful same-sex-related lawsuit against your church or ministry, consider the following steps:

1) Include a spiritual purpose provision in your governing documents/bylaws. Be sure your organizational governing documents clearly state your ministry’s spiritual purpose, your reliance on scripture, and the intent to advance the ministry in accordance with scripture. Where appropriate, quote scripture within the purpose statement.

2) Include a morals clause in your employee handbook. Be sure your employee handbook includes a policy telling your organization’s employees that the church expects them to support its spiritual purpose and behave in accordance with it. Including such a clause in your handbook, when applied consistently, can go a long way toward protecting the church from employment-related lawsuits.

3) Respond with sensitivity. Train your clergy, staff, and volunteers to approach individual needs and requests with empathy. Although you cannot meet every request or demand, the manner in which you convey your response is sometimes as important as what you have decided.

4) Consult with local counsel. When revising organizational documents and ministry policies and procedures, involve a local attorney. A wide variety of federal, state, and local laws apply to employment and facilities use, and consulting with a local attorney can provide guidance on any state-specific and local legal issues that you may encounter. You also should contact your attorney and your insurance agent any time you anticipate a claim against the church.

All ministries, whether supportive of same-sex unions or not, should recognize and understand the potential impact of this ruling. Following the steps listed above can help ministries continue to operate in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs and avoid claims of improper discrimination. Contact a local attorney for assistance with creating policies and procedures and for help in understanding how the law applies to your ministry.

Download a PDF version of this article.

Preaching at Stewart Road​ Christian Ministries Center

June 20, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Video

Books & Publications by Cup & Cross Ministries in 2014

December 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

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Ministering at Stewart Road Christian Ministries Center

January 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Video

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Convention 24: Using the Internet in Bulgarian Ministries

November 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, News

24-copyOn the 24th of October, 2009 in the city of Gabrovo, Cup and Cross along with Vasil Petrov Ministry organized the Bulgarian Ministries on the Internet Convention.  It consisted of a one-day specialized training for using the Internet in the ministry for pastors, ministers and their teams. The invitation for the conference was sent out to all churches across the country and the cities of Veliko Ternovo, Sevlievo, Gabrovo, Rousse, Varna, Yambol, Dimitrograd, Kurdjali, and Sofia responded representing the north-central, central, north-eastern, south-eastern, southern, and western parts of Bulgaria.

The first of these meetings was held in the building of the Bulgarian Church of God El Bethel from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm and was offered free of charge to all participants.  Speakers from Varna and Sofia were also invited to participate in the course to discuss topics including 1) Ministry benefits of the Internet, 2) How to transmit live worship through uStream.TV, 3) National Evangelical Internet Network (NEIM), 4) the use of Google Wave in the ministry, 5) Blogging for churches and pastors and finally 6) Public relations via the Internet and the Day of Open Doors in Bulgaria

This event was broadcasted live and watched by many more across the country and abroad.  The pre-released unedited footage of the lectures has already been viewed by over 400 people on our website Bibliata.TV.  We are expecting the editors cut of the convention to be ready for release by the beginning of November.

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Cup & Cross Ministries 2003 Ministry Report

January 10, 2004 by  
Filed under News

In 2003 Cup & Cross Ministries was active in both the United States and Bulgaria. Through an international call for Pentecostal revival, our team was able to minister, analyze, inform and strategize with Pentecostal churches in the United States, the Philippines and India while working closely with the network of Bulgarian Evangelical Churches in North America and the Bulgarian Church of God. Cup & Cross Ministries accented on revival evangelism, leadership training, mission outreaches, church planting and the use of media accomplishing the following results:
1. Held over 50 revivals and church services in the United States
2. Organized and held a national Revival Harvest Campaign which spread in five states in the period of six months
3. Held over 1,200 church services in Bulgaria
4. Organized three new churches in the Yambol region of Bulgaria
5. Traveled collectively over 30,000 miles providing pastoral care for 17 churches in the Yambol region of Bulgaria
6. Organized and held six training seminars for ministers in the Yambol region of Bulgaria
7. Compiled, analyzed and published the official current growth statistics for the Bulgarian Church of God
8. Organized and held two ladies conferences entitled Women of Godliness in the Yambol region of Bulgaria
9. Held three baptism services for over 30 people, an adequate number of communion services, prayer meetings and holiday services for churches and communities
10. Provided timely analyses for the political, economical and social conditions in Bulgaria and their effect on the Bulgarian Protestant Movement
11. Increased the number of published monthly informative bulletins about Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Church
12. Broadcasted over 50 weekly radio Chastain programs with air-coverage in the Yambol region of Bulgaria and accented on the international media outreach providing timely information via radio, television and internet
13. Continuously provided insightful facts and analyses of the history of the Bulgarian Protestant Movement from a ministerial point of view and its effect on the Bulgarian Church in the beginning of the 21st century
14. Reprinted and distributed an adequate number of Sunday School materials
15. Studied and analyzed the growing number of Bulgarian Evangelical churches in North America and provided training strategies for ministers and churches to lay the foundation for a nationwide network and further inner-structure development