The Turkish-speaking United Methodist congregation in Gorno Ezerovo has come one step closer to its dream of a new church building.
Gorno Ezerovo is part of the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Burgas. About 2,000 people live here, about 10 kilometers from the city center. The vast majority of the population is Turkish-speaking. This is also true for the United Methodist congregation. Its roots go back to 1997 - and it is essentially the only really functioning institution of Gorno Ezerovo.
Soon after the founding of the church it became apparent that in this Muslim environment it was difficult or even impossible to rent a suitable room. Fortunately, the UMC in Bulgaria was then able to purchase an old house. Almost 20 years later, however, it became clear that it was too dangerous to continue meeting in this dilapidated building. Therefore, considerations were made to build a new church center. The corresponding plans were submitted, and the UMC in Bulgaria received an official building permit in 2014. However, due to lack of funds, the construction work could not be started. Then the EmK-Weltmission in Germany with its campaign "Children help children" as well as the British Methodist Church offered their help and raised new hopes that the plans would be implemented. However, the target date for the start of the concrete construction work in June 2019 had to be postponed again, as the UMC in Bulgaria was obliged to revise the architectural plans to meet new legal requirements. Erdzhan Madzharov, the Turkish-speaking pastor of the congregation, proved to be extremely prudent and talented in his dealings with the architects and authorities. "His organizational and administrative skills are very encouraging for me," Superintendent Daniel Topalski said about him.
Now the long-awaited ground-breaking ceremony for the new building could finally be celebrated in a worship service on February 4, 2020. The building will not only be used for worship services and a variety of programs for children and youth, but will also serve the entire community of Gorno Ezerovo as seminars and other events of importance to the people will be organized there. The new building is also intended to strengthen the diaconal commitment: programs for the prevention of early marriages, work with addicted children, soup kitchen during the winter months, etc. It is also planned that the pastor's family will live in this center.
There is still a lot of work to be done, and financial support is also needed. The fact that God has repeatedly opened doors in the past is, however, also a reason to hope for the Methodists in Gorno Ezerovo and throughout Bulgaria with regard to the future.
Source: UMC Bulgaria / Office of Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich
Photo: Superintendent Daniel Topalski breaks ground