New Research Trip to Nashville and Urbana

We were able to travel to two locations to obtain valuable materials concerning the Bulgarian Protestant history. The first location was the Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives in Nashville, TN where a good number of Bulgarian Baptist periodical publications from the past 20 years are being preserved. Along with them, we were able to obtain several publications of the Ukrainian Baptist minister Ivan Ephraimovich Voronaeff (Voronaev), who after immigrating to the United States pastored a Baptist congregation in New York until receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit. After his Pentecostal experience, Voronaeff founded a Russian Assembly in New York which he later left to travel to Turkey, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia to establish Pentecostal churches as an Assemblies of God missionary. Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives in Nashville has preserved a number of issues from the Pentecostal publication “Evangelist,” which Voronaeff began publishing in the Ukraine in the late 1920s.

Also in Nashville, we were privileged to meet with Dr. Albert Wardin, a renowned Baptist historian who has written several pieces on Bulgarian Baptists after his first visit to Communist Bulgaria in the 1960s. We are expecting Dr. Wardin to visit us again in Bulgaria very soon in attempt to begin a round table discussion dealing with the history of Baptist presence and missionary endeavors on the Balkan Peninsula.

We departed from Nashville on our way to Urbana, IL to obtain a long-awaited copy of the Albert H. Lybyer Papers. Dr. Lybyer taught at Robert’s College in Constantinople in the beginning of the 20th century before serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the American College in Simeonovo (a suburb of the capital Sofia). His personal papers at archives of the University of Illinois in Urbana have preserved his correspondence with board members, college officials and representatives of the American Board, which are an invaluable reference to Bulgarian Protestant history. His correspondence as a board member contains unprecedented information of the history of the American College in Simeonovo, and more specifically its merge with the Samokov Missionary School. Dr. Lybyer’s papers contain his personal journals recorded during his early trips across the Balkan Peninsula, which presents the missionary context in early 20th century Bulgaria.