Over 100,000 Protestants in Bulgaria

September 10, 2004 by  
Filed under News

protestantFifteen years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the Bulgarian Protestant movement claims over 100,000 members. Although the Bulgarian National Statistical Institute counted only 42,000 Protestant believers in Bulgaria for the 2002-2003 National Census, Pentecostal denominations report a much larger number. As early as 2001, the Church of God presented documentation for 32,000 members with 250 ministers in close to 400 congregations nationwide. In 2003 the Bulgarian Assemblies of God reported the following statistics: 550 churches and outstations, over 50,000 members and adherents, 150 national pastors, one Bible school with 23 enrolled students and an extension program training 150 students. Combined with the membership of the remaining Protestant denominations in Bulgaria these statistics give a figure of over 100,000 Bulgarian Protestant believers in a nation of eight million.

A conformation to these statistics was published in connection with the resent crisis in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church by Dr. Stephen Penov, a professor at the Sofia University and a member of the Bulgarian Academy of Science. Dr. Penov, who has served as a Parliament expert of human rights and faith confessions, claimed that the members of classical Protestant churches in Bulgarian exceeded 60,000 while new Protestant denominations have a membership of approximately 50,000. The Catholics in Bulgaria are approximately 70,000, the Muslims 750,000 and Eastern Orthodox 6,000,000. The growth of Bulgarian Protestant movement to over 100,000 members is colossal compared to the 1975 statistics found in Klaus-Detlev Grothusen, Bulgarien, (Guttingen: 1990, p. 564):

Denominations Membership Clergy Parishes
Pentecostal 5,000-6,000 36 43
Adventist 3,500 40 20
Congregationalist 2,600 24 26
Methodist 1,000 15 13
Baptist 700 7 10
Total 12,800-13,800 122 7112