Mission History in Bulgaria
1992: An exploratory trip to the Balkans in order to determine mission possibilities is followed up with an exploration of Bulgaria.
1993: The first missionaries arrive. Tracts are translated and distributed. Bible information classes began. A Christian information center opened in Sofia.
1994: First worship service is held in the Christian information center. Sunday school classes and publishing of Christian books in Bulgarian begun. Exploratory work began for humanitarian aid work. Medical Mission of Mercy program started for assisting the elderly. A humanitarian aid store opened. A vicar from Germany came to assist missionaries. A new missionary family arrived. A vicar from Germany came to assist missionaries. The church was legally registered.
1995: The Medical Mission of Mercy program is started for pregnant women and young families. A second humanitarian aid store was opened. Two missionary families arrive.
1996: A Christian information center is opened in Mladost for English as a foreign language classes, Bible information classes, and for worship the following year. The Lutheran Bible Institute and Seminary of Bulgaria opened. Missionary number fivehri and family arrived.
1997: A new multi-purpose facility is dedicated in Lozenetz. An additional missionary family arrived.
1998: A Lutheran elementary school for the missionary children is opened in Boyana, a suburb of Sofia. Possibilities for outreach in Vidin were steadily growing.
1999: A Christian information center is opened in Varna.
2000: The first Bulgarian pastor, Vacil Bunkin, is ordained and called to work in Vidin. His wife, Maria, is called to work as deaconess in Vidin.
2001: Two missionaries accepted calls to congregations in the United States.
2002: Teacher of the missionary children departs for the States and children begin attending international school.
2003: New missionary arrives to renew instruction in the seminary program.
2004: WELS budget shortfall results in the recall of all American missionaries from Bulgaria. Two national pastors are ordained and assigned.
2005: Friendly counselor position is established and begins work of consulting with the Bulgarian Lutheran Church. The friendly counselor also continues the seminary training of students.
2006: The one year of service for the friendly counselor, Pastor Armin Panning, was extended six months and staffed until August. Despite numerous calls being issued, the position was unable to be filled for the remainder of 2006.
2007: The administrative committee developed a plan to encourage pastoral training in conjunction with Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and St. Sophia Seminary, Ukraine, through the use of distance learning. The financial support of the national church continues at the same level as in previous years. The Bulgarian Lutheran Church makes regular use of the humanitarian aid supplied by WELS for the work carried on in orphanages and homes for invalids.
2008: Pastors Strahil Naidenov and Todor Ganchovski continue to work with their congregations. Each pastor continues to make a weekly visits to a Christian information center near their respective congregations. Pastor Naidenov also makes a monthly visit to the Roma congregations in the north to coordinate their Bible Study work with their local leader, Iskar Stankov. Vicar Rado Radoslov is nearing completion of his pastoral studies under the direction of our field consultant John Vogt, rector of St. Sophia in the Ukraine.
2011: Radoslav Radkov graduates and is ordained as pastor in the BLC’s Varna congregation. His pastoral studies were provided by St. Sophia Lutheran Seminary in Ukraine through visits to Ukraine by Radkov and by St. Sophia’s teachers training to Varna.
2013: Two more pastors graduate, Ivo Rusinov and Dimitar Shishkov. They are called to serve as copastors of the BLC’s congregation in the Roma (a.k.a. gypsy) village of Dunavtsi. Pastor Radkov is elected the BLC’s new leader.
2015: Iliyan Itsov graduates to become the BLC’s sixth pastor. Itsov, a Roma himself, is called by the WELS Europe Committee to begin an Outreach to Roma. He is charged with travelling wherever the Lord provides opportunities to gather groups among the Roma people.
2016: The Dunavtsi congregation secures a loan from a WELS member to purchase land and begin construction of a small chapel.
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