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Church hopes that “every word preached from this new pulpit may be God-inspired, Biblical, adequate, understandable.” Head of state Plevneliev underlined the work of evangelical Christians.
This fall, after more than a decade of prayers and preparation, the Baptist Church in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, celebrated the official opening of its new Social Educational Center and Church.
The building is equipped with a refectory where warm soup will be served to homeless people, a medical center, premises for educational and literacy programs for school dropouts, several conference halls, a library, office rooms, as well as a new auditorium for worship services.
The official name of the new center and church is “New Birth” – a bold statement that this is to become a location where many people will find a new beginning in their path.
In her official greeting to the local Baptists, the Mayor of Sofia, Mrs. Yordanka Fandukova expressed her warmest regards and appreciation. She was deeply impressed with the passionate efforts of the believers to extend a hand to the needy. The Mayor of Bulgaria’s capital also expressed her prayers that from now on those endeavors will be even more purposeful and ardent for the benefit of Sofia’s outcasts.
The new building will not only be used for social outreach. It is also designed to host Christian forums, conferences, and worship services. “May every word preached from this new pulpit be God-inspired, Biblical, adequate, understandable and uncompromising with regards to the truth,” prayed Stefan Milenov, an ordained deacon and preacher with First Baptist Church, Sofia.
The events around the official opening of the new Center and Church included an evening of worship, prayer and appreciation to contributing sponsors; a concert with classical and Bulgarian ethnic music; an official ribbon-cutting and a dedication ceremony. The special moment coincided with the annual Council of the European Baptist Federation, which was deliberately held in Sofia for the occasion.
PRESIDENT PLEVNELIEV: THANKFULLNESS FOR CHRISTIANS
A hundred and fifty Baptist pastors and church leaders from all over Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, representing as many as 40 national Baptist Unions gathered together in Sofia.
The Council was honored to be addressed by the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Rosen Plevneliev.
“My presence here is a sign of gratitude for everything achieved by Bulgarian Baptist Union during the past century and a half,” said the Bulgarian President in his address. “We shall never forget how during those first and most critical days and months, as Syrians, Iraqi and Afghans were seeking shelter in Bulgaria in large groups, you offered practical support to the refugee centers in Sofia with what was most essential: food, clothes, washing detergents, furniture. And all of this was collected and donated with an attitude of Christian empathy for those who were hurting and had been deprived of home and family.”
Mr. Plevneliev also expressed appreciation for the Bulgarian Baptists’ efforts to serve with orphans, to offer literacy programs to Roma children, and to extend a hand of Christian love for the needy. “This beautiful newly built center is a home for a social kitchen for poor people, a medical facility, as well as an educational, religious and conference center. Its will be or paramount importance for our society. And I am grateful for that,” noted the Bulgarian head of state.
In response to the President’s address, Dr. Tony Peck, General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation, expressed appreciation for the kind words and greetings. This center “will not only house a church that seeks to witness to its faith. It will also will reach out to some of the poorest and most needy of this city,” pointed out Dr. Peck. “In this Sofia Baptists want to follow the example of Jesus himself in caring for the whole person, body, mind and spirit. They want to make their own positive contribution to the life of this city and Bulgarian society.”
The consecration of the new building comes in a moment when Bulgaria is facing new and rather serious challenges: strong refugee waves, internal migration streams towards the country’s capital, economic stratification and aggravated ethnic tensions.
At the same time, the celebration moment of the local Baptist Christians came only a couple of weeks before the regular 35 National Congress of the Bulgarian Baptist Union. The congress elected a new national leadership board and outlined some of the main visionary objectives before the national denomination for the next four years.
The opportunity to foster the social, cultural and educational ministries of First Baptist Church, Sofia, is in harmony with the earliest traditions of Evangelicalism in Bulgaria. And in combination with a strong accent on values like evangelism, discipleship, prayer and Bible preaching, the main Baptist Church in Bulgaria’s capital is in a wonderful starting position to continue serving as a beacon of Jesus Christ in Sofia during the upcoming decades.