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Baptist Union of Romania

Baptist Union of Romania

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The Baptist Union of Romania (Uniunea Baptistă din România) is an alliance of Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 churches for cooperative ministry in Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

. Since independent (or individual) churches have no legal standing in Romania, the Baptist Union also provides a mediatorial relationship between churches and government.

The first modern-era Baptists in Romania were of German extraction. Karl Scharschmidt came to Romania from Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 in 1856 and settled in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

. Scharschmidt, a carpenter by trade, had been baptized by Johann Gerhard Oncken
Johann Gerhard Oncken
Johann Gerhard Oncken was a pioneer German Baptist preacher, variously referred to as the "Father of Continental Baptists", the "Father of German Baptists" and the "Apostle of European Baptists". Oncken, Gottfried Wilhelm Lehmann , and Julius Wilhelm Köbner were known as the Baptist cloverleaf ....

 in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 in 1845. By 1863 enough converts had been made to form a church, and Oncken sent August Liebig to serve them as pastor. This church, the oldest Baptist church in Romania, in still in existence and meets on Popa Rusa Street. Russian Baptist immigrants, mostly from the southern Ukraine, came to Dobrogea around 1862 and founded a church in Cataloi in 1869. Hungarian Baptists formed a church in Transylvania in 1875.

Baptist witness did not enter Old Romania
Romanian Old Kingdom
The Romanian Old Kingdom is a colloquial term referring to the territory covered by the first independent Romanian nation state, which was composed of the Danubian Principalities—Wallachia and Moldavia...

 until the 20th century, and Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 opposition was strong. Nevertheless, a church was organized in Jegalia in 1909. An ethnic Romanian church was formed in Bucharest in 1912 by Constantin Adorian (1882-1954), a Romanian who had joined the German Baptist church in Bucharest. Adorian led in forming the Baptist Union of Romania in 1919. Before 1944, the legal status of evangelical groups such as the Baptists was not well defined. Due to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and the military dictatorship of General Antonescu, laws were passed in 1942 and 1943 dissolving all religious associations in Romania. As a consequence, Baptists could not meet, worship or evangelize. On August 31, 1944 these laws were abolished, and the Baptists (and others) could once again engage in religious activity legally. In 1948 Baptists were recognized as a legal cult (the generic term used by the Romanian government to describe religious bodies).

Hungarian Baptists have maintained their independence and cooperate with the Baptist Union as a "sister" denomination known as the Convention of the Hungarian Baptist Churches of Romania
Convention of the Hungarian Baptist Churches of Romania
The Convention of the Hungarian Baptist Churches of Romania is an organization of ethnic Hungarian Baptists in Romania, united for promoting cooperative ministry....

. Since 1999, the Hungarian Baptist Churches Convention is affiliated to the Baptist Union of Romania alongside other 15 territorial communities (or associations) - Arad, Bacău
Bacau County
Bacău is a county of Romania, in Moldavia, with its capital city at Bacău. It has one commune, Ghimeş-Făget, in Transylvania.-Demographics:In 2002, it had a population of 706,623 and the population density was 113/km²....

, Brăila
Braila County
Brăila is a county of Romania, in Muntenia, with the capital city at Brăila.- Demographics :In 2002, Brăila had a population of 373,174 and the population density was 78/km².*Romanians – 98%*Romas, Russians, Lipovans, Aromanians and others....

, Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

, Cluj
Cluj County
Cluj ; is a county of Romania, in Transylvania, with the capital city at Cluj-Napoca.-Demographics:In 2007, it had a population of 692,316 and a population density of 104/km².*Romanians – 80%*Hungarians – 17.5%*Roma – 2.5%-Geography:...

, Constanţa
Constanta County
Constanța is the name of a county in the Dobruja region of Romania. Its capital city is also named Constanța.-Demographics:In 2002, it had a population of 715,151 and the population density was 101/km². The degree of urbanization is much higher than the Romanian average. In recent years the...

, Craiova
Craiova
Craiova , Romania's 6th largest city and capital of Dolj County, is situated near the east bank of the river Jiu in central Oltenia. It is a longstanding political center, and is located at approximately equal distances from the Southern Carpathians and the River Danube . Craiova is the chief...

, Oradea
Oradea
Oradea is the capital city of Bihor County, in the Crișana region of north-western Romania. The city has a population of 204,477, according to the 2009 estimates. The wider Oradea metropolitan area has a total population of 245,832.-Geography:...

, Sebiş
Sebis
Sebiş is a town in Arad County, western Transylvania, Romania. Situated at a 82 km from the county capital, Sebiş is one of the most important urban centres in the Crişului Alb valley. It administers three villages: Donceni, Prunişor and Sălăjeni...

 (Arad
Arad County
Arad is an administrative division of Romania roughly translated into county in the western part of the country on the border with Hungary, mostly in the region of Crişana and few villages in Banat. The administrative center of the county lies in the city of Arad...

 County), Sibiu
Sibiu County
Sibiu is a county of Romania, in the historical region Transylvania, with the capital city Sibiu.-Demographics:In 2002, it had a population of 421,724 and the population density was 78/km²....

, Suceava
Suceava County
Suceava is a county of Romania, in the historical region of Moldavia and few villages in Transylvania, with the capital city at Suceava.- Demographics :...

, Hunedoara
Hunedoara County
Hunedoara is a county of Romania, in Transylvania, with its capital city at Deva.-Demographics:In 2002, it had a population of 485,712 and the population density was 69/km².*Romanians - 92%*Hungarians - 5%*Romas - 2%*Germans under 1%....

 and Timişoara
Timis County
Timiș , , Banat Bulgarian: ) is a county of western Romania, in the historical region Banat, with the county seat at Timișoara. It is the largest county in Romania in terms of land area....

.

The Baptist Union of Romania is the second-largest Baptist body in Europe. In 1995, there were over 100,000 members in 1323 churches. By 2000 the number had risen to over 1500 churches and more than 110,000 members. According to the 2002 Romanian National Census, there are 129,000 baptist citizens in the country. The Baptist Union of Romania's leadership is established by the vote of all baptists churches representatives gathered once every four years in Congress (general assembly). They elect the National Council (which includes representatives from all the regional associations and Hungarian baptists) and the Executive Committee (which includes the President, the General Secretary, 4 Vicepresidents and the Deputy General Secretary). The Baptist Union issues a periodical magazine called The Christian - Today, a theological addendum and other books and printed materials for the use of its members. Its headquarters are in Bucharest. Many Baptist pastors and ministers are formed in one of the two Baptist theological schools in Romania: The Baptist Theological Institute in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

 or the Emanuel University
Emanuel University
- History :The roots of Emanuel University were planted in 1986, when Emanuel Baptist Church of Oradea, formerly known as the Second Baptist Church of Oradea, initiated an underground Bible institute to train the upcoming pastors and missionaries of the Communist Romania.Today, Emanuel University...

 in Oradea
Oradea
Oradea is the capital city of Bihor County, in the Crișana region of north-western Romania. The city has a population of 204,477, according to the 2009 estimates. The wider Oradea metropolitan area has a total population of 245,832.-Geography:...

, Bihor
Bihor County
Bihor is a county of Romania, in Crişana, with capital city at Oradea. Together with Hajdú-Bihar County in Hungary it constitutes the Biharia Euroregion.-Demographics:...

. An increasing number of pastors, however, are receiving graduate training in ministry from Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis, which operates a campus in Arad.

Theologically, the Baptist Union of Romania is very conservative. According to remarks that President Paul Negruţ delivered to the Missouri Baptist Convention, the leadership of the Baptist Union has been monitoring liberalism in the Baptist World Alliance
Baptist World Alliance
The Baptist World Alliance is a worldwide alliance of Baptist churches and organizations, formed in 1905 at Exeter Hall in London during the first Baptist World Congress.-History:...

 for more than a decade. The group ended its participation in the European Baptist Federation
European Baptist Federation
The European Baptist Federation is a federation of 51 Baptist associations and is one of six regional fellowships in the Baptist World Alliance. The EBF was founded in Ruschlikon, Switzerland, in 1949. It lays a great deal of emphasis on human rights, religious liberty and aid programs. The...

 during the 1990s and President Negruţ has publicly endorsed the withdrawal of the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

 from the Baptist World Alliance
Baptist World Alliance
The Baptist World Alliance is a worldwide alliance of Baptist churches and organizations, formed in 1905 at Exeter Hall in London during the first Baptist World Congress.-History:...

.

In 2004, the Baptist Union of Romania and the Convention of the Hungarian Baptist Churches of Romania entered into a three-year partnership with the Missouri Baptist Convention (an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

), primarily for the purpose of evangelism and starting new churches.

In May 2007, Otniel Bunaciu was elected president of the Union. Though the previous president indicated a withdrawal from the Baptist World Alliance, the Union has never withdrawn their membership. The Union still sends active representation to the
European Baptist Federation,a regional body within the Baptist World Alliance. The Baptist Union of Romania still has ties to the Southern Baptist Convention, however it still embraces relations with the Alliance and the Federation.

External links