On July 10, 2011, a hot summer day, the United Methodist Church building in Pleven (Bulgaria) was rededicated with the assistance of 20 Methodist guests from West Market Street UMC, Greensboro, NC (USA). It was the partnership between the church in Pleven and two US congregations which made the refurbishment of the church building finally possible.
1991, after the political changes in Bulgaria, the late Superintendent Zdravko Bezlov was traveling together with the Bishop through Bulgaria in order to do the inventory of the former church property, which had been confiscated by the communist state. Pleven was at that time used as puppet theatre.
The path towards a restitution of the building was long and arduous. But this long process for the recuperation of the building has become a strong witness for the persistence and hope of the Bulgarian Methodists. We were sorry that the mayor of the city did not fulfill the promises he made to participate in the celebrations of the re-consecration. It could well be that the officials of the city did not want to look back into this in-legitimate history.
The congregation in Pleven will now need again persistence and hope to adopt a mission-oriented attitude towards the population of the city. The partnership in mission with the US churches made visible that a culture of persistence and hope is also nurtured through the community of believers, in other words the Methodist connection.
Source: Bishop Heinrich Bolleter, Switzerland
Date: July 14, 2011