Ground Breaking Ceremony
View of the neighborhood
These steps have the "I Am" sayings of Jesus from the book of John on the risers.
Outside is complete; still working on the inside
In 2004 Sofia Baptist Church broke ground on a building project that can, in many ways, be called visionary. In addition to a worship hall that will ease the overcrowding of the current church, the new building will serve as a ministry center reaching out to the community. The idea of reaching out to the community is not new, nor is it waiting for the building to be completed. Rather, it is a significant part of the heritage of Sofia Baptist Church and other Baptist Churches throughout Bulgaria.
Baptist work started in Bulgaria in the late 1800’s and social ministries have always been a part of the vision--from the distribution of Bibles and literature to the soldiers and relief work during the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 to the early work with the Roma (Gypsy) communities, including literacy and life skills education. In addition to work with the poor, the Baptist Union was also involved in the operation of an orphanage in Sofia which was started to care for the orphaned children of evangelical families. After World War II, social work continued with outside groups providing assistance of food and clothing which the Baptist Churches then distributed to those in need.
Even thorough the difficult years of communism, when social work was banned and became grounds for persecution by the Communist government, Baptists found ways to help those in need. Social ministries previously carried out by the church became personal ministries. When a believer heard of someone in need they provided whatever assistance they could, be it food, clothing or money to buy coal for the winter. Because of the dangers of providing assistance during this time no records were kept, but those who lived through these years can tell fascinating and wondrous stories.
The fall of communism brought renewed optimism for the churches and a rekindled a desire to help those less fortunate. Life was difficult and opportunities for social ministries were abundant. The outreach of the Bulgarian Baptist churches extended into Romania, where the situation was even worse, with the delivery of flour, sugar and other items which were not available in Romania.
One of the greatest needs for social help was recognized as churches discovered the orphanages that had, for over 40 years, been hidden from society. With the assistance of western churches local churches worked to improve the lives of these neglected children. Work was undertaken to improve the facilities and staples such as flour, sugar, rice and beans were provided to feed the children. Ministry to orphanages continues to this day even as Bulgaria moves to deinstitutionalize these children and young adults. In addition to the work with
orphanages, Baptist churches are involved with outreaches to the Roma, the elderly, hospitals, the homeless and prison ministries, just to name a few.
One of the projects currently taking place at Sofia Baptist Church is a literacy program, reaching out to the Roma in the neighborhood. Anywhere from 4 to 14 children attend the program each week receiving instruction in reading, writing, Bulgarian language and basic math skills. The children are encouraged to attend school and are given help with their homework, but unfortunately not many of them actually attend school. In addition, Bible stories are taught and a healthy snack is provided. There is a great desire to see this program expand, but space is limited. This project started and continues under the leadership of Terry Myers with funding from American Baptist Women’s White Cross gifts.
Bulgarian Baptists have taken seriously Jesus’ command to care for the outcasts, downtrodden and marginalized of society and they remain committed to this yet today. This is why Sofia Baptist Church broke ground on their new building in 2004, not because they need more space (although they do), but because they believe God has called them to reach out in their community to the poor and marginalized of society. The new building, when finished, will include a medical clinic, space for feeding the homeless, enough space so a long-talked-about job training center can become a reality, expansion of the literacy program, and room for the Spirit to lead in exciting new opportunities for ministry.
If you desire to help with the completion of the new Church and Social Center of Sofia you can do so by going to International Ministries at
http://www.internationalministries.org/projects/46 and click on the ‘Give’ button.