In mid-December Margarita wrote:
“Christmas is approaching and our hearts are burdened with worries. In May, four of the political parties introduced changes to the law on religion that aim to severely restrict all minority religious groups.
Such changes are in direct violation of the Bulgarian Constitution that guarantees separation between Church and State and religious freedom for all citizens. They threaten the existence of all minority groups.
Despite protest letters from religious groups across the country, as well as from outside Bulgaria, Parliament passed all proposed changes. These included an increase in the minimum number of people required for registration from 300 to 3,000.
If accepted, this would threaten the registration of the majority of Protestant denominations, including the Methodist Church.
Politicians here want the law to be passed quickly and implemented immediately.
Despite street protests by Christians, one party leader declared openly that they would fight “with teeth and nails” for the articles to be passed exactly as proposed. Please continue to pray for us.”
Then on 21 December Margarita sent us this update:
“Today, in its final working day for 2018, Parliament passed the new religious law in Bulgaria. We are happy to inform you that to our great relief 95% of the proposed restrictions were dropped.
It has taken a lot of work by many people to reach this outcome. This includes international pressure, as well as seven Sundays of official prayer marches and protests in Sofia and other cities.
It has also involved prayer and fasting, TV interviews, other media activity and discussions with members of the Parliament’s Commission on Religion and Human Rights.
We are grateful to God for all the support that we received. This has shown our politicians that, though we are a minority, we are part of a big worldwide family. We are a force to be reckoned with.
As a representative of the Bulgarian Methodist Church I would like to thank everyone who helped. I’m especially grateful to the World Methodist Council, the European Methodist Council and the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church women for their support.
We have one more reason to celebrate this Christmas. Our hearts will gladly sing praises to our Lord Jesus for his power and might, love and faithfulness.”