Andreas Seefried was the first Adventist missionary worker in the Bulgarian territory.
Andreas Seefried was born in the fifties of the nineteenth century. Prior to becoming an Adventist and serving in Bulgaria, he was a Baptist who worked for the British and Foreign Bible Society. Seefried married Wilhelmine (whose last name is not known) on January 20, 1875 in Bessarabia. The first available information about his service is from the year 1880. That year, Seefried was sent by the British and Foreign Bible Society from Germany to Skopje.1 This was to represent the Society in the region of Macedonia and Albania, where he worked for nine years. It was in Skopje that his son Johannes was born in 1881.2 Seefried’s work in Skopje was not easy: he was jailed twice, in 1882 and 1885. The second time this happened because of a Bible he sold to a Muslim. As a result, he was issued a death sentence. Fortunately, he was released at the last moment after the intervention of the senior Turkish official to whom he had sold the Bible.
Seefried spoke Romanian, German, Russian, Bulgarian, Italian and Turkish languages – skills that made him extremely successful in dealing with different nationalities on the Balkans. In 1889, Seefried moved to Constanţea, Romania. However, there is no information about his activities until 1896. In 1896, Seefried served as a Baptist elder in Kobadin, southeastern Romania. In March of that year, he met Ludwig Richard Conradi and G. Wagner, who presented to him the Adventist message. Several months later, in the summer of 1896, Seefried and his family were accepted as members of the Adventist church in the village of Saragyol, Romania.
After Seefried became an Adventist in 1896, he was involved in missionary activities in Romania and Bulgaria. At first, he worked among the Romanians in Hungary, and shortly thereafter in 1897 he was assigned as a missionary worker to Romania and Bulgaria. One of the first cities Seefried worked was Rousse. He spoke Bulgarian and Turkish languages.3 This gave him an edge in his ministry in Rousse, which was filled mainly with Bulgarians, Armenians and Jews.4 As result of his work, Conradi baptized the first two Bulgarian converts in in the Danube River in 1898.
The systematic work of Seefried in Rousse led to the establishment of the first Adventist group in Bulgaria. Moreover, it was in the city of Rousse that Seefried began coordinating the publishing of Adventist literature in Bulgarian.5 Consequently, in 1899, the books Steps to Christ and The Blessed Hope of the Christian were published. Seefried extended the perimeter of his activities in 1899 and began to visit other cities such as Shumen, Dobrich and Varna. After Conradi’s visit to Saragyol, Romania, in March 1902, it was decided that Seefried will go to work in the Plovdiv area, in the south of Bulgaria, as an itinerant preacher.6 At that time, information reached the Adventist leaders concerning some Sabbath keepers in the Plovdiv area. They had started observing the Sabbath as a result of some Adventist tracts they had received.
One year later, at the Second General Assembly of the Balkan Missionary Field, held on 10-14.02.1903, it was decided that Seefried be permanently transferred from Romania to Bulgaria where he continued serving primarily as a missionary. But a year later, in 1904, Seefried returned to Romania.
Upon establishment of Bulgaria in 1912 as a separate mission field, Seefried remained in the mission field of Romania. He died in Constanţa, Romania, in 1927. Two years later, his wife Wilhelmine also died there. Both of them are buried in Constanta.
With his work in the territory of Bulgaria, Andreas Seefried contributed to the establishment of Adventism in Bulgaria, as is seen in the first baptisms and the first group in Rousse. His contribution can also be seen in the area of publication. He coordinated the first printed editions of Adventist literature in Bulgarian which was an essential resource in the early years of Adventism in the country. Andreas Seefried tended also to the success of the Adventist message in Southeast of Romania. He worked in that territory for more than ten years.
“Allerlei Erfreuliches.” Zionswächter, July 1996, 54.
A Quarterly Report of World Mission, July–September 1989, vol. 78, no. 3.
Conradi, Ludwig R. “Fortschritt des Werkes.” Zionswächter, May 1998.
Conradi, Ludwig R. “Report of the German Mission Fields.” The Missionary Magazine, December 1898.
Conradi, Ludwig R. “The German Conference.” ARH, June 13, 1899.
Conradi, L.R. “Along the Danube.” ARH, May 31, 1898.
Dail, Guy. “Austria, Hungary and the Balkans.” ARH, July 14, 1903, 18
Holser, H. P. “Southern Europe.” ARH, November 1, 1898.
Seefried, Andreas. “Bulgarien.” Zionswächter January, 1999, 7.
Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1902.
Šušljić, Milan. Bićete mi Svedoci: Prilozi za istoriju Hrišćanske adventističke crkve na području Jugoistočne Evrope [Be my Witnesses: Contributions to the History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South-East Europe]. Belgrade, Serbia: Preporod Beograd, 2004.
Thomas, Alfred. Nachalo i razvitie na adventnoto delo v Balgaria [Beginning of the Adventist Work in Bulgaria]. Sofia: Bulgarian Adventist Mission, n.d.
Milan Susljic, “I Now Believe,” Mission: A Quarterly Report of World Mission, July-September, 1989, 19-20.↩
Johannes graduated from the mission school in Friedensau and worked as a preacher in Switzerland, Hungary and Germany. He was the first director of the Adventist Hospital in Berlin and president of Saxony Conference.↩
Ludwig R. Conradi, “Along the Danube,” ARH, May 31, 1898, 12.↩
Henry P. Holser, “Southern Europe,” ARH, November 1, 1898, 8.↩
Ludwig R. Conradi, “The German Conference,” ARH, June 13, 1899, 11-12.↩
See “German Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1902), 624.↩