Chaplaincy in Bulgaria
by Dony K. Donev, D.Min.
Since 1995, Cup and Cross Ministries International has worked toward a vision of the establishment of a Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association â€“ an organization that incorporates pastoral care to prisons, military, police and hospitals. Our outreaches have been able to provide pastoral care and social services to the needy in a time of severe economic crises and political tensions. Our presence has been an answer for people in need for both physical and spiritual support. In the beginning of the 21st century, we are witnesses of a miracle as this vision comes into reality. Today, police and military officers participate in services led by the same ministers and pastors who once, during communism, they were ordered to arrest for the preaching of the Gospel.
History of Events
In September of 1944 the Communist revolution took over Bulgaria. All prior Protestant activates were outlawed. Pastors and ministers were imprisoned. Some were brutally executed. Any attempt for ministry in public was equal to a death sentence. The church went underground for 45 years until the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and a Holy Ghost revival swept through the country. In the summer of 2000 the Bulgarian Church of God organized a chaplaincy seminar in the Military School in Veliko Turnovo. This was done with the partnership of NATOâ€™s head chaplain along with the representative of the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, the director of the school under the patronage of the vice-president of Bulgaria Mr. Kavaldjiev. More than 250 officers, spiritual leaders and civil representatives participated. The goal of the seminar was to awaken the interest of the community and appeal for changes in the Bulgarian constitution, which would guarantee the freedom of military personnel to access the chaplainâ€™s services and care.
The Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association
In February of 2002 a chaplaincy seminar, organized along with the Church of God Chaplains Commission, was held in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia. More than 60 pastors, chaplains, students and church workers from different denominations attended. These were people actively involved in military, hospital and prison ministries. The seminar was a stepping-stone for the development of the chaplaincy ministry in Bulgaria. It served as a beginning point of the structural development of the department of chaplaincy and caregivers in the Bulgarian Church of God and facilitated to the establishment of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association of which Cup & Cross Ministries became a charter member.
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