More than one year after the revolutions of 1989, the political dust is beginning to settle for evangelicals in what used to be the Eastern Bloc. Though ambiguity persists where former Communists remain in leadership, church-state relations are moving from center stage. More pressing now for evangelicals than their relationship to the government is their witness to a spiritually hungry society from which they have been largely isolated.
“Inside the walls of the church there was relative freedom,” says Daniel Raus of the Church of the Brethren in Czechoslovakia. “But Christians lost real communication with the world.” Evangelicals must adjust quickly to the times, say leaders across Eastern Europe, because, while political freedom may last, spiritual interest will not.
For the first time in 45 years, Bulgaria’s 30,000 evangelicals can choose their leadership without interference from the government. In January 1990, the Pentecostals selected leaders for their recently formed union, followed by the Baptists and the Methodists. Congregationalists, however, still face conflict with the government over their leader.
Church leaders recently formed the Initiative Committee for Contact between Evangelical Christians in Bulgaria, which includes the Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists, and the once-banned Church of God (with ties to Cleveland, Tenn.). The Initiative Committee believes the political climate is not settled enough to form an evangelical alliance. In the meantime, committee members are helping coordinate new ministries, such as a lay Bible academy and a publishing house.
Though antigovernment demonstrations continue amid assertions that the Communists have merely changed their name, ...1
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