Romania

By Adrian Bocaneanu, and Daniel-Adrian Neagu

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Adrian Bocaneanu (M.A., Andrews University) has worked as a pastor, departmental leader, editor, radio and public speaker, teacher and administrator, including two terms as president of the Romanian Union (1995-2005). In 2007, as director of Hope Channel Romania, he launched the 24/7 broadcast. He retired in 2017 and lives in Atlanta, U.S.A.  

Daniel-Adrian Neagu

Romania is a European country, and a member of the European Union, situated in the southeast of central Europe. It has an area of 238,391 square kilometers and a population of 22,170,000 as of 2019. The country is bounded by the Republic of Moldova and the Black Sea to the east, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the northwest, Serbia to the southwest, and Bulgaria to the south. The territory is almost evenly divided between mountains, hills, and plains, spread symmetrically from the Carpathian Mountains, with elevations of more than 2,500 meters. One of the main European rivers, the Danube, travels some 1,075 kilometers through or along Romanian territory. The climate is temperate continental.

Vital Statistics

The nation is organized administratively into communes, towns, and counties. Romania has 41 counties and the municipality of Bucharest, the national capital. Forty-six percent of the population lives in rural areas and 54 percent in urban settlements. According to the 2011 census, the ethnic composition is: Romanian (88.9 percent), Hungarian (6.5 percent), Roma (3.3 percent), with significant groups of Ukrainians, Germans, Turks, Russians, and Tatars. By religion, 86.5 percent of the inhabitants identify themselves as Eastern Orthodox, 4.6 percent as Roman-Catholic, 3 percent as Reformed, 1.9 percent as Pentecostal, 0.8 percent as Eastern Catholic, 0.6 percent as Baptist, and 0.4 percent as Seventh-day Adventist.

The official language is Romanian, which evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin, with minor Slavic influences. Other languages are also spoken by different ethnic groups, such as Hungarian, Romani (the language of the Roma people), Ukrainian, Russian, and Turkish. The oldest population mentioned in written historical records were the Geto-Dacians, belonging to the larger family of Thracians. During the last centuries BC, they formed a distinct civilization and a powerful state under the leadership of King Burebista (c. 82-44 BC), a contemporary of Julius Caesar. In AD 106, under Emperor Trajan, the Romans conquered Dacia and colonized it. In AD 271, under Aurelian, Roman legions and the imperial administration were withdrawn to the south of the Danube, probably leaving behind a primarily Latin-speaking population, practicing Christian rites brought by the Roman colonists. “The Daco-Romans did not know mass baptizing, by order of their rulers, as it happened with most of the neighboring peoples. The Christianization of the Daco-Romans took the form of a spiritual process: they were converted to Christianity by missionaries and not by threats; and finally they were the first Christians in this part of Europe. Other neighboring peoples would be baptized only a few centuries later.”1

Origins

The Romanians came to adopt the Eastern rites of Christianity, and in the Great Schism of the church in 1054 they sided with the Eastern Church. The first Orthodox metropolises were established in the Romanian principalities of Walachia and Moldavia. The two provinces had a tumultuous history and were united in the second half of the 19th century and then freed of foreign domination. The third large Romanian province, Transylvania, was occupied by Hungarian tribes after the beginning of the second millennium and later included in the Hapsburg and then the Austro-Hungarian Empires. Transylvania was united with the Walachia and Moldavia after the First World War, on December 1, 1918, which is now the National Day of Romania.

After this unification in 1918, the nation entered a period of extensive development under increased Western influence. A process of religious renewal, rather unique for a territory dominated by Eastern Christianity, was helped by the greater denominational diversity in Transylvania, with its favorable response to the Protestant Reformation and a history of religious freedom. There was even an attempt of reform in the Orthodox Church, initiated by a priest, Tudor Popescu, and a deacon, Dumitru Cornilescu. The latter translated the Bible using the contemporary language of his time, departing from the archaic language preserved by the Orthodox Church. The Cornilescu version is still the most used Bible among the Protestant and Evangelical churches of Romania.

After the Second World War, Romania came under Soviet domination and a Communist government was imposed, with an agenda of fighting religion and curtailing human rights and freedoms. On December 22, 1989, as a result of a popular uprising, the Communist government was removed and a government of national unity was formed, followed by free elections. Romania became part of NATO and the European Union, confirming its adherence to democracy and freedom. The sudden fall of Communism was followed by a dramatic increase of interest in spirituality and of religious fervor, with many Christian denominations experiencing major numerical growth and social influence. Taking advantage of the new freedoms, a significant number of Romanians chose to leave the country and settled in other countries, mostly within the European Union and mainly for economic reasons. It is estimated that as of 2020, about 5,600,000 Romanians live outside of Romania.

The Earliest History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

The Adventist message was proclaimed for the first time in the territory of Romania in 1869 and 1870, when Michael Belina Czechowski, a former Polish Catholic priest, then an unofficial Adventist missionary to Europe, settled first in Transylvania and then in Pitești, Walachia. He formed small groups of believers. From what we know, his work in Transylvania was short and did not produce durable results. He remained in Pitești until 1875, having enough time to conduct baptisms and to strengthen the small company established with members of the Aslan family, merchants of Armenian descent.

In 1879, the small company was visited by two Italian missionaries, Bertola and Ribton.2 From their testimony we learn that the French magazine Signes des Temps was regularly received there and read by these Sabbath-keepers. In 1881, Toma Aslan sent the editor two letters with reports. As a result, he was invited to attend the meetings of the Council of European Adventists in 1883. The following year he helped launch the first Romanian Adventist publication, Adevărulu Present (The Present Truth), a quarterly printed in Hamburg. Also in 1884, George I. Butler, the General Conference president, visited the believers in Pitești. Then A. C. Bourdeau was sent as a missionary to Romania. He worked there for a brief period and organized the church in Pitesti.3

In spite of fervent activity, after 1887-1888 the small church was scattered. As a result of hostility and persecution, most of the members either emigrated or moved to Bucharest and later reconnected with the church members there. After a silent period, Toma Aslan was found by L. R. Conradi in Bucharest in 1893. Together they developed plans to translate Adventist publications and to distribute them.4

In 1890, L. R. Conradi went to Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, searching for the old Sabbatarians. He had heard that they had kept Saturday as their day of worship and rest even prior to the Reformation. Their estimated number had once been between 50,000 and 100,000. Despite their numbers and the ahead-of-the-times religious freedom in Transylvania, the Sabbatarians had never been officially recognized and they suffered many limitations and even persecution. Conradi searched local archives and discussed his search with cultural luminaries. He even went to Bözsöd-Ujfalu (Bezidu Nou) to thoroughly search for surviving followers of Simon Péchi (Pécsi). Thus he came to meet the last three Sabbatarians in Transylvania. It was during this visit that he met Johann Rottmayer, one of the first Baptist missionaries for Transylvania and a representative of the British and Foreign Bible Society. As a result of their conversations, his wife and their daughter became Adventists. Later, he himself joined the Adventist church, yet without severing his connections with the Baptists.5 Conradi visited Cluj-Napoca again in November 1890, following a fruitful correspondence with the Rottmayer family. He then returned to Hamburg with Rottmayer’s daugther, and she helped in the editing and distribution of Hungarian language publications. As a result, she was listed on the roster of church employees in Europe for a long time.6

Rottmayer’s wife shared some Adventist publications with Wilhelm Johannes Tentesch,7 a bakery foreman, who became the most skilled literature evangelist of his time in Transylvania. Just nine years later, the statistical report mentions that in Cluj-Napoca and the surrounding area there were about 50 Adventists. Wilhelm Tentesch, in an autobiographical statement, wrote: “From 1896 to 1898 I worked in Sibiu, Bistrița, Mediaș and Făgăraș.”8

The work in Transylvania was continued by John F. Huenergardt, born in Russia, trained in the United States, and sent in 1897 as a missionary to Hungary, a region which included Transylvania. He settled in Cluj-Napoca and worked along with Rottmayer. In just one year, Huenergardt learned Hungarian and baptized 53 new converts. In 1907, Huenergardt became the president of the Hungarian Conference and, in 1912, the president of the Danube Union Conference, covering a territory roughly corresponding to Hungary and the former countries of Yugoslavia, Romania, and Bulgaria. He was also the president of the Romanian Mission and supervised the Galicia Mission, which included another Romanian territory, Bucovina.

In 1890 some of the ethnic Germans in Crimea, Russia, who were observing the seventh-day Sabbath, were constrained to leave their homes and chose to move to Dobrudja, where the local authorities offered them land to build new homes. In 1891, L. R. Conradi visited several small German communities where he met an elder of the Crimea church. Conradi remained for six days in Dobrudja and visited the villages of Sarighiol and Kalasch-Kula, where he found four new Sabbath-keepers.9 In 1892, G. Wagner from Russia was sent here, followed by T. Babienco, who spent some years in Romania. Adventists numbered about 30 members and some of them, including the Seefried family, organized a church in Viile-Noi, near Constanta, on the Black Sea. This is the oldest still-functioning Adventist church in Romania today.

In 1895, Conradi visited Galați, a port on the Danube River, and wrote that he met H. Skubovius, calling him “our ship missionary.”10 By the end of 1896, there were more than 60 Adventist believers in the territory of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia. It appears that around 1900 Ferdinand Adomeit arrived in Bucharest. As he didn’t speak Romanian, his work was limited to German-speaking people and he was later transferred to Sibiu, in Transylvania.11

On August 29, 1902, Gerhard Perk, another German missionary, arrived in Bucharest. He was the first ordained pastor to come as a missionary.12 He rented a hall on 14 Izvor Street, where he presented Bible conferences every Monday and Thursday. As a result, on October 18, 1902, a baptism was held in the Floreasca Lake. Ana Klör was among those baptized.13 The first reports on Bucharest for 1903 mention eight Adventist members. Among them was Ioan Dumitriu, a history teacher at the Evangelical School, and he became an earnest proclaimer of his new theological beliefs.

G. Perk did not remain long in Bucharest. In 1904, another missionary was sent here, J. F. Hinter (Ginter), from Russia. He organized the first company, with 16 members.14 Among the young visitors of the small company, now transferred to Fundătura Negru Vodă Street, Hinter mentions Nicolae Jelescu, a musician in the king’s band;15 Petre P. Paulini, a medical student; Ștefan Demetrescu, an army officer; and others. In 1906, L. R. Conradi visited Bucharest and preached to an audience of 60 to 100.16 He was amazed to observe that, in contrast to his previous visit, the church now had meetings in a spacious public hall and there were no hostile disturbances.

Later, as a result of strong opposition from the official church (Romanian Orthodox), Pastor Ginter was expelled. His place was taken by Romanian pastors who could no longer be expelled by the authorities and who had a significant impact on the further development and spread of Adventism in Romania. Three of them were born in the same year (1882) and had just finished their studies at Friedensau, Germany: Petre Paulini, Ștefan Demetrescu, and Constantin Popescu.

Moldavia, the other historical province of Romania, had its first organized companies of Adventist believers in the first decade of the 20th century. Church members from Bucharest shared their new religious beliefs with family members, and some of them were interested in learning more about the new religious movement. The first study groups were organized in Tâmboiești (1906), and in Tecuci and Cozmești-Vale (both 1908). The first church in the region was organized in Tecuci (1915) with 25 members.17

In Transylvania, the progress of the work reflected the ethnic diversity of the territory. The preaching of the Adventist message was done in German, Hungarian, and, increasingly, in Romanian. Beginning in 1900, Transylvania was part of the Hungarian Mission. The first meetings of Adventists in Transylvania and Banat started in 1901-1902. The third General Meeting of the Hungarian Mission, the first one amply reflected in the Adventist publications, was held in Cluj-Napoca, from February 5 to 8, 1903. The main Adventist churches represented were from Transylvania; however, the pastors were Germans or Hungarians. According to the statistical report, Transylvania had 162 members, organized in eight churches.18 Some of the missionaries sent here had studied at Friedensau. Their experiences there and the skills acquired contributed significantly to the advancement of the work. Possibly as a recognition of this, the Balkan Mission meetings were held in Cluj-Napoca from October 18 to 31, 1904. The roster of Adventist churches in Transylvania contains new names, such as Sibiu, Viștea, and Timișoara. There were more than 180 Adventist believers.19

Two years later, a report presented at the meetings of the Hungarian Mission Field mentions 255 believers in Transylvania.20 As a consequence of the steady numerical growth and the increased interest in the preaching of the Adventist missionaries, at the seventh meeting of the Hungarian Mission Field, held in Cluj-Napoca, December 11-15, 1907, the mission became the Hungarian Conference. The following year, Petre P. Paulini was sent to work in Arad, in recognition of the need of a pastor to focus exclusively on the Romanian-speaking population. By then, the number of believers was 374, organized into 22 churches.

The next important event was the creation, in 1910, of the Transylvania Conference, separate from the Hungarian Conference. The new conference numbered 561 members,21 organized in 30 churches.22 In 1914, Transylvania Conference became part of the Danube Union, which also included the Romanian Mission Field.

The last meeting of the Transylvania Conference was held in Sibiu, November 6-9, 1913. Hermann Mayer-Bärtscky became the president, replacing J. F. Huenergardt. The following year, Europe was engulfed by the First World War, making it impossible to hold conference meetings. The next important organizational moment happened in 1920, when Transylvania Conference became part of the new Romanian Union Conference.

In 1913, Bucharest hosted the Annual Conference of the Romanian Mission Field (Transylvania Hall, November 13-16). “This was the first public meeting of the Adventist believers held in Romania with the approval and recognition of the public authorities.”23 It was voted to organize the Romanian Conference, with 442 members, 127 of them being baptized during the preceding year. Petre P. Paulini was elected as the first president. “The meetings were attended by 49 delegates, representing 13 churches.”24 The new conference was part of the Danube Union, organized in 1912, also covering the territories of Hungary, Transylvania, and Bulgaria, with a total of almost 2,000 members. The decision to establish the Romanian Conference had been reached on October 30, 1913, in Budapest, at the meetings of the European Division Council.

Post-World War I Developments

The next meeting of the Romanian Conference was held April 27-30, 1916, at the Bucharest-Ocol church. There were about 750 members by now. On that Sabbath, besides the Romanian Bible study classes, there were four classes in German, two in Hungarian, and one in Bulgarian. There was a total of 407 people in attendance.25 Petre P. Paulini was reelected as president, with Ștefan Demetrescu as secretary.

At the first meeting of the Romanian Conference after the war, July 8-11, 1920, the delegates organized the Romanian Union Conference, with three conferences (Muntenia, Moldavia, and Transylvania) and a mission field (Banat-Crișana). In the aftermath of war, Transylvania had been united with Romania; so, the new union conference numbered almost 2,500 members in 99 churches.26 The meetings were attended by Arthur G. Daniells, the first General Conference president to visit Romania after George I. Butler in 1884. Petre P. Paulini was elected as the first president of the Romanian Union Conference.

On the same occasion, plans were laid for a publishing house, a school to train pastors, and even a clinic. Also, in 1920, Societatea Cuvântul Evangheliei (Word of the Gospel) was organized, with the purpose to prepare, print, and distribute literature. As the only legal entity belonging to the church, this organization was also the owner of all church properties. In 1921, a tract of land was acquired in Bucharest, at 116 Labirint Street, to build the union offices and the publishing house. In 1922, a church was built on the same grounds. At the beginning of 1923, the official paper of the Union, Curierul Misionar, was already carrying the new official address of the publishing house.

As an expression of the bold vision of the early Adventist leaders, in the late 1920s three Romanian foreign missionaries were sent overseas: Jeremie Florea to work for the Romanian immigrants in the United States, Constantin Tolici to Madagascar, and Ilie Curmătureanu to Cameroon. Their mission reports and the stories of their work inspired and motivated many young members of the church to prepare for a similar calling.27

Ștefan Demetrescu initiated short training programs for those interested in the missionary methods of the church, first in 1922-1923 in Iași and then in Focșani. He also opened the first missionary school in Focșani (1923-1924). At the beginning, the program was six months long and it appears that the first class consisted of 21 students. The school moved two times, first to Diciosânmartin (Târnăveni) (1926-1932) and then to Stupini (1932-1948), where a modern school was constructed for this purpose. Hundreds of young men and women with a passion for mission studied there. The graduates responded to the pastoral needs of the church for many years during the Communist regime which was to come.

In order to advance the goal of developing an Adventist medical system in Romania, Dr. Axel Holmes was sent from the United States, along with two nurses from the Skodsborg Sanitarium in Denmark, Carentza Olsen and Karen Nielsen. At first, they opened a small medical practice in a church building on Popa Tatu Street, Bucharest, which also housed the offices of the Muntenia Conference. Dumitru Popa reports28 that a building was bought in the center of Bucharest to serve as a future hospital. A combination of legal problems, insufficient financial support, and, probably, lack of vision, contributed to the failure of the project and the building was sold. Dr. Holmes returned to the United States and the two nurses to Denmark. However, the Romanian Union retained among its workers two nurses commissioned to educate the members of the church regarding a healthy lifestyle.

Some of the early pastors and lay evangelists, besides proclaiming the distinctive teachings of the Church, were also very active in educating the population, especially in underprivileged areas, regarding a better lifestyle—including the practice of hygiene, better nutrition, modern agricultural methods, ways to preserve vegetables and fruit for the long winter season, and various skills and crafts, such as beekeeping. By this, being an Adventist was seen in many less developed places as a superior way of life. The results of the social reform mission of those pioneers actually had a long-term influence.

Between the two world wars, missionaries representing the Reform Movement from Germany came to Romania and established local churches, mainly in areas with an Adventist presence. The relations between the two Adventist bodies were far from friendly. Among other things, representatives of the Reform Movement were eager to condemn the Adventist organization for not enforcing a vegetarian diet on their pastors and members. Many Adventists had a negative reaction and, in the incessant controversies that followed, some aspects of health reform were completely neglected, while embracing a vegetarian diet was often disparaged as an indication of leaning toward the Reform Movement. This misinterpretation persisted for several decades.

In 1927, D. N. Wall from the United States became the president of the Romanian Union, with P. Păunescu as associate union president. In 1928 the union territory was divided into six local conferences. Beginning in 1932, the union office positions were again filled by nationals.

The progress of the Adventist message in Romania was marked by strong opposition, especially in Muntenia and Moldova, where the Orthodox Church was considered the official religion. (Transylvania had a long multi-denominational history and hence a higher level of tolerance.) Authorities were typically quite servile toward the priests and bishops. Public servants and the population were often motivated by the priests to marginalize, malign, beat, prosecute, and enforce arbitrary penalties on all non-traditional faiths. Adventists were especially exposed, having a different day of worship (they were often called insulting names usually reserved for the Jews at a time of growing anti-Semite sentiments) and for their dietary practices (pork was a staple food, and alcohol was part of most social functions). The lifestyle of the Adventist believers was different in almost every respect from the local population. Their church practices were also peculiar: reading and explaining the Bible was at the center of their worship, their hymns mostly reflected the heritage of the German Reformation and bore no semblance to the chants of the Orthodox Church or the musical language of the country.

Becoming an Adventist in those times was, first of all, considered a betrayal of the nation. As religion was the controlling factor in the culture, the Adventist beliefs and lifestyle put the members, especially the recent converts, at odds with their families and communities. They could not mix with the general population in religious ceremonies, in many secular activities, or in popular entertainment. Religious controversies were frequent, demanding from the members a thorough knowledge of the Bible and the ability to clearly present Scriptural arguments for their beliefs and practices at any time. As religious truth was considered essential, some people would respond to biblical evidence and make the difficult decision to make a radical change in their lives and become Adventists.

In general, the period between the two world wars was marked by severe persecution of Adventist believers, and some of them even lost their lives defending the truth of the Bible. In spite of some legal protections, Adventists were left prey to the whims of the majority, often with the support of law enforcement, and that resulted in churches being vandalized, defaced, and burned down, beatings too numerous to be mentioned, believers forcefully walked from one police precint to another, court trials and prison sentences, harrasment, rape, divorce, marriage denial, burial services disturbed or denied, pastors and colporters chased and expelled, literature seized, and so on. This was the lot of the Adventist believers and sympathizers. Some of these abuses were reflected in the papers of the time. One of the most horrible cases, but surely not the only one, was reported by the daily Dimineața (The Morning) on January 25, 1932: Adventist pastor Gheorghe Oresciuc was murdered by a mob in Frătăuți, Bucovina. Perpetrators of such acts were rarely prosecuted and properly sentenced.

Sometimes local authorities or national politicians defended the Adventists, spoke or wrote favorably about them, and protected them.29 In a number of instances, Orthodox priests, especially in private conversations with sincere inquirers, admitted that, judged by the Bible, Adventists are right and those who are serious about salvation should join them. To some degree, the abuses of the priests and of the local authorities were restrained by the personal influence of some of the early leaders of the church, with earlier connections at the royal court, and with leaders of the country. After their conversion, they were eager to use their connections on behalf of the beleaguered church. The religious freedom department of the church was also very active, with Ștefan Demetrescu and others often going to the courts of law to successfully defend members and pastors who had been falsely accused.

Literature evangelists, along with pastors and church members, contributed most to the dissemination of the Adventist message across the cities and villages of Romania. Church growth in this period was astounding. When a census was done in 1930, more than 16,000 people identified themselves as Seventh-day Adventists, while in 1948, the official membership of the church was 25,800, with 551 churches and 79 ordained pastors.30

In the process of spreading Adventist literature to others, members also became avid readers. The books of Ellen White, especially those containing practical teachings on health, family, and social issues, became the main source of instruction for life and contributed to the moral and practical growth of members and their neighbors. An early Romanian version of the book Ministry of Healing was printed with a beautiful introduction by the Queen of Romania, better known under her literary name of Carmen Sylva. The wide distribution and use of Ellen White books can explain, among other factors, the impressive development of Adventism in Romania to the point of being the largest Adventist community in Europe.

Despite all these attacks and persecution, the only period when the church was actually outlawed was from 1942 to 1944, when the country was under martial law and a dictatorship with strong German leanings. Many believers were court martialed and sentenced to different prison terms. However, an order mandating the deportation of Adventists to Siberia was not enforced.

In August 1944, Romania turned its back on the Germans and joined the Allies, resulting in the occupation of the country by the Soviet army. Before long, they imposed a Communist regime. The legal rights of the church were immediately reinstated, properties were returned to the church, and the imprisoned members were released.

Developments in the Socialist Era

After the war, the eastern portion of Moldavia was annexed by the Soviet Union; thus, the Romanian Union lost a significant number of members and local churches. However, with their experience of being part of a well-organized church during its expansion period, they were to exert now a positive influence on the church in the Soviet Union, which was severely persecuted, isolated from the world Church, and lacking opportunities for theological education and institutional development. Some of the pastors in Soviet Moldavia, who had been trained in the Missionary Institute in Stupini, were deported by the authorities or deployed by the Church in the most distant places within the vast territories of Soviet Union, contributing to the survival and orderly development of the Church for the following decades.

In Romania, the first four or five years after the war came with liberties never experienced before. The pent-up energies of the church were released, resulting in unprecedented missionary activities. The priests had much less power over the authorities and over the population. The church took advantage of this time of freedom as if having a premonition that it would be relatively short. As soon as the Communist authorities gained full control of the country, they began showing their true plans, including in the area of religion. In a short time, starting with 1949, the church was deprived of the infrastructure necessary for a normal life and development. What began with fiscal measures—imposing crippling taxes on church properties—ended with outright confiscation of vital institutions (such as the publishing house and the press in Bucharest, and the Missionary Institute in Stupini).

For church members, the main areas where their religious freedoms were curtailed were Sabbath observance: (1) while holding a job (the work week was Monday through Saturday, so Adventists were prevented from holding a job in many sectors, especially industrial and as professionals); (2) in schools and universities (Adventists were prevented from higher education); and (3) in the military service. Hundreds of young Adventists were prosecuted for not reporting on Sabbath for instruction or work and were sentenced to years of imprisonment. Courts were careful to avoid mentioning the religious problem, so the usual charge was insubordination to the military authorities. Some of them received successive prison terms. Once released from prison, they were sent back to the army for the unfinished service, and again they were prosecuted and sentenced to imprisonment. Prison conditions were very harsh, especially for Adventists, due to their dietary restrictions and Sabbath observance. Many pages were thus written of heroic behavior and strong characters formed. About the mid-1960s, the situation became more relaxed. Quite surprisingly, two young Adventists, Titus Ghejan and Gabriel Ion, were sentenced to prison terms in the late 1970s, and the Communist-controlled media gave ample reports, exposing them to public condemnation and ridicule.

Religious life was to be strictly confined within the walls of the churches, and all public activities were forbidden, with the exception of funeral services. Activities aiming to strengthen faith and encourage loyalty toward the church were actively discouraged, hindered, or forbidden (e. g. Sabbath School classes for children and doctrinal classes for baptismal candidates). Baptisms were often prohibited or, in any case, controlled and hindered. All mission-oriented activities were considered hostile and prohibited.

The official policy of the regime, as expressed in various ways, was to impose an atheistic-materialistic worldview and to discard all religious beliefs and practices. Children and youth were systematically subjected to Communist indoctrination. Painfully aware of their lack of opportunity as practicing Christians, and especially as Adventists, significant numbers of Adventist youth, especially in cities, ceased practicing their faith. This happened mostly in the first two decades of Communism. Some of them regretted their decision and returned to church, either when the situation was more relaxed or after the fall of Communism.

Church activities, while officially tolerated, were burdened with many restrictions. The authorities controlled the number of churches, and there were two coordinated efforts to forcefully disband a large number of churches, especially the smaller ones, and to transfer the members to the remaining churches, sometimes in distant towns. The authorities also controlled the number of pastors, limiting it in order to disrupt or to completely paralyze some activities of the church. All financial operations were closely controlled, and the local conferences or the union were not allowed to disperse their funds without express governmental approval. As a result, significant amounts of money were being accumulated in the banks (and gradually reduced by inflation), while the operation of the church was hindered by lack of funds.

Concerned and frustrated by these hostile actions, some members and pastors chose to put aside a portion of their tithes and offerings and to be used directly in areas which they considered to be important, but underfunded, activities for the mission of the Church. This was always very risky. The practice also undermined the integrity of the financial philosophy of the Church and sometimes opened the door for abuses. In the early 1960’s, this method was even adopted at the union and conference level, with a secret bookkeeping arrangement used to fund vital activities of the Church. The scheme did not long escape the scrutiny of the authorities and the response was often drastic. Many of the leading elected officials of the Church were thrown in prison, some of them for many years.31

In spite of actively imposing restrictions and prohibitions, the authorities did not want to be perceived as initiating them; so they would pressure the leaders of the Church, especially union administrators, to adopt these measures, to own them, to develop biblical rationale for them, to communicate them to the pastors and the churches, to thoroughly and faithfully enforce them, and to bear the responsibility for all possible consequences. Leaders and pastors who were reluctant or resistant to these requirements were submitted to pressure, threats, or removed from their positions under different pretexts and replaced with persons who had promised submission and loyalty. As a result, the normal process of general assemblies and elections in the church was seriously hindered and corrupted. At times there was a paralyzing divergence between public statements about God’s leading of His Church and the increasingly obvious perception that the authorities controlled many aspects of the life of the Church through its leaders.

In time, new pastors acceded to leadership positions, with the sincere intention to help the Church to remain faithful to its calling. They had also developed the skills needed to gain the confidence of the authorities, and they used that to slow down or to neuter potentially destructive plans or to negotiate with the authorities, even by making concessions in less important areas in order to protect values considered essential. After 1965, and even more after 1980, some of the restrictions were relaxed. The authorities approved a higher number of students in the ministerial program of the Church; a few pastors were allowed to study in Adventist colleges abroad for disciplines needed in their ministerial education; a couple of fundamental books for the life of the Church were printed, albeit in very small quantities; some leaders of the world Church were allowed to visit Romania, and Romanian leaders were allowed to attend some of the meetings of the world Church.

In spite of compromises, in spite of the unhealthy consequences of some of the ways used to survive in a brutal regime totally opposed to freedom and diversity of opinion, the Adventist people gave a really impressive testimony, in front of the whole nation, to the invincible power of personal convictions, especially in terms of religion, and the impotence of the oppressive state to crush a living faith and its manifestations. For decades, every Friday evening, every Sabbath morning, and every Sabbath afternoon, tens of thousands of Adventist believers, after putting aside the enslaving work and the never-ending demands of the regime, would put on their best clothes, would take their children by the hand and, with their Bibles and hymnals in their hands, would walk on the streets of cities and villages, fill the churches, sing the hymns as loud as they could, and preach their convictions, and nothing could force them to do otherwise. The seats at school of many Adventist children and youth remained unoccupied on Sabbath. Many times they were expelled from schools and universities, but they remained faithful. Sometimes, when the pressure was threatening to crush their convictions, the whole class stood up in solidarity with them.

The repressive machine of the Communist regime worked on different levels. All social life was dominated by the representatives of the Communist party, who imposed their ideas on every aspect of life—in factories, on farms, in schools and universities—in the social life of the towns. All decisions impacting the Church were informed by the Communist views promoted, sometimes in very primitive and abusive modes, by the representatives of the only party existing.

An institution of the Communist state which specialized in accomplishing its goals in the area of religion was the state directorate for religious organizations (with names differing over time), with a centralized, national structure, reporting directly to the national leaders of the Communist party and regional representatives. Questions of national interest were decided at the highest level and the decisions were communicated to the national leadership of the Church. The years from 1950 to 1970 were exceedingly difficult. It is possible that, in time, the initial ambition of the Communist leadership to crush the religious faith of the masses and to deconstruct the church-centered communities proved to be unrealistic, resulting in an implied admission of the abiding reality of religion. A lower goal was then adopted: to control religion. At times there was room for some negotiations, or bargaining, and a little bit of understanding, sometimes even interest. Gradually, most of the Communist apparatus came to be populated by bureaucrats who made ideological pronouncements to demonstrate their loyalty to the regime and to protect their position; in reality, they were using their position to improve their lives.

However, the most destructive effect on the life of the Church came from a quasi-secret institution, officially named the Department for the State Security, in short Securitate. This was a secret political police, governed by self-made rules and using every means deemed conducive to the desired results. Normally, this institution should have nothing to do with religion and churches. In reality, this was the long arm of the Communist power in every conceivable domain. Reflecting the ideological distrust of the Communist authorities in their own citizens, Securitate was expected to function as an insidious source of information on the real ideas, sentiments, convictions, and actions of the people. The regime, while conditioning the people to state publicly their devotion to Communist ideologies, goals, and leaders, knew very well that people were stating one thing and thinking completely different things. The regime wanted to know what the people thought and what they said privately. For this purpose, they developed a huge network of informers, committed to report, periodically, everything which seemed to be at variance with the official parlance. The victims of these reports were punished without any possibility to defend themselves. In time, society became aware of the fact that almost everything they said or did would make it into a report and result in repression. In general, informers were not known, and this eroded and destroyed the trust between people, distorted all human relations, and choked their courage to express what they thought or to announce what they intended to do.

Inasmuch as religion was, avowedly, the enemy of the Communist society, churches were targeted in a special way. The most debilitating factor was that the informers had to be recruited from among the natural participants in the life of the churches, namely believers and pastors who enjoyed the trust of the members. Any unfamiliar presence was suspicious, so members of the household were in demand. In the beginning, most informers were recruited with lies, threats, blackmail, and other brutal, corrupt methods. Few really adopted Communist convictions, few went on their own, committing to collect and to report compromising information. Some used the occasion for personal revenge, frustrated ambitions, or in the hope of a promotion, blinded by the illusion that, later, they would do good for the Church. There were two absolute conditions for the statute of informant: one was the confidential, strictly secret character of the transaction, and the second was to produce a written commitment to provide information, and this was to be presented as a free personal initiative, never as demanded or resulting from pressure. Many who entered the arrangement decided to cheat the system by pretending to provide needed information but, in reality, refraining from any incriminatory report, with the hope of still getting some leverage with the authorities. Some managed not to really provide any damaging information.

It is indeed a miracle that, under such conditions, in such a complex and incomprehensible web of relations, loyalties, hidden agendas, and interests, so much was accomplished in those dangerous decades: sincere spiritual initiatives and revivals, semi-clandestine educational activities for the children and youth, missionary activities resulting in changed lives and baptisms, illegal and semi-legal printing of literature and its distribution, and building new churches without construction permits or by greatly exceeding the limits imposed by the few permits granted.

In the 1970s, a group of pastors, many of them Hungarian-speaking pastors from Transylvania, developed an unofficial movement aimed at theological development, spiritual renewal, and missionary endeavors. For several years, this strengthened and enlarged the vision of the participants, who were mainly using their family connections and holiday outings to meet each other in order to nurture their spirit and to sharpen their tools without arousing suspicions. Like almost anything that was done secretly, this movement was finally uncovered. There was quite a storm but, in the end, the initiators merely received symbolic penalties. Dezideriu Faluvegi, one of the initiators, wrote, “A Securitate officer grilled us in long interrogations on our underground activities. He was always sneering at me, but we were set free with no serious consequences.”32

Another means to survival was to leave the country, either by failing to return after a tourist trip (very difficult to be granted by the authorities), by taking the extreme risk to illegally cross the border to Yugoslavia, followed by another illegal crossing of the border to Austria or Italy, or by openly applying for immigration (exceedingly difficult to be granted and almost always followed by reprisals). Church members from Yugoslavia, and then from the target countries, understanding that these desperate actions were determined, not primarily by material hardship, but by spiritual oppression, made sacrifices to help these conscientious refugees. This resulted in the opening of a Romanian church in Vienna, Austria, followed by others in the United States (New York, Chicago, and Loma Linda). These churches, in turn, made efforts to support, materially and spiritually, the believers in Romania.

The church received a significant blow in 1986, when plans were made for a new bridge in Bucharest, requiring the demolition of a number of buildings. Among them there was a five-story church-owned construction, with a large sanctuary, the offices of Muntenia Conference, and five flats for church employees. The only demand of the Church was to be compensated with a tract of land and a construction permit to build a replacement for the lost property, but even this was finally denied. All other buildings had been demolished and the church remained, very visible, for the negotiations to continue. The situation was very tense, even getting attention from Western diplomats in Bucharest. Members of the church remained on the property day and night, trying to protect it. On August 6, in a show-down of sheer force, the government deployed heavy wrecking equipment and several busloads of prisoners, brutalized the members present, and demolished the building. The members of the demolished local church, with an admirable spirit of solidarity and resilience, immediately erected a large tent, moved in all the belongings of the church, and continued the life of the church for years until they managed to have a new sanctuary.

The Post-Communist Era

In December 1989, after the surprising political changes in the Soviet Union and some of its satellite countries, the Communist regime of Romania underwent a sudden, spectacular fall. Instantly, the church members, the pastors, and the leaders of the Church started to work boldly, with an energy which had been repressed for so long, and to do all kind of things which could not have been done before. Preaching moved from churches to public halls—something unthinkable up to that moment. Books and magazines were printed day and night and placed in the hands of a population hungry for a Christian message. Members began visiting hospitals, nursing homes, and even prisons. Adventist voices came to be heard on radio and in television programs.

In a few weeks, about 300 churches were re-opened (those disbanded by the Communists) or established in new places (in places where there had been companies and the authorities kept rejecting petitions to open a church). The whole country became a building site. Members were eager to build new, larger churches. They were using their financial means and volunteering their time for labor. In a few years, these new constructions were getting completed. As an example, in 1994, just in the Moldova Conference, almost each Sabbath of the year was marked by the dedication of at least one new church!

Before long it became obvious that this frantic activity needed a unified vision, long-term plans, and sustained support. Branches of work which had been suppressed by the previous regime had been revived or organized for the first time, such as the various levels of formation for children and youth, especially the Pathfinders, which contributed to the spiritual and moral development of thousands of young people. For several decades, the Church had been quite isolated from the world Church and unable to be in step with the development of church practices and methods. During the long years of Communist oppression, the style of church leadership had been, by necessity, rather authoritarian, also mirroring the social realities of the country. Changes needed in order to function in a growingly democratic society and to harmoniously interact with the world Church were traumatic for some of the workers, especially the older ones.

1992 and 1993 were memorable for the thousands of Revelation Seminars conducted in small groups by members of the Church. In 1993 the highest number of baptisms were conducted, more than 7,000. The same years were marked by public evangelistic meetings in the largest public halls of Bucharest and other major cities of the country, with many thousands of participants and hundreds of baptisms. The first speakers were missionaries from abroad and they were followed by local pastors.

In 1991, a dedicated Adventist physician in Braila, Dr. Paulini Ene, organized the School of Nursing, “Dr. Luke,” which is still functioning. The educational mission of the Church then started to be implemented with three high schools, followed by many primary schools and kindergartens. Adventist students in large secular campuses started many AMiCUS branches to nurture their own spiritual life in the years of intellectual and professional education, and especially as a venue for mission projects for their colleagues. Countless seminars on health, love and family, and biblical spirituality were conducted on all major university campuses.

A major investment for the Church was the construction of a campus for the Theological Institute at Cernica, close to Bucharest, which was dedicated in 1999. This is now the first Adventist University of Romania, Adventus, with three undergraduate programs, a school of nursing, and an extension graduate program in theology offered by Andrews University. In 1993, Radio Voice of Hope was launched with a two-hour daily broadcast in Bucharest and three other cities (Brașov, Cluj-Napoca, and Timișoara). Currently the network owns and operates 46 stations, most of them with a 24/7 operation.

Another area of intensive activity is producing the literature needed for the spiritual nourishment of the Church and for the literature evangelists. The publishing house and the printing plant were strongly supported by the Church. In 2012 the operations were moved to a modern building and since then the printing has been done with high-quality equipment. One of the preferred missionary activities of the members is to give away literature to their friends and acquaintances. Literature evangelism went through several stages of development and organizational structures, with many creative approaches, with outstanding results, and with widespread impact on society at large. The last major action has been the project Bible—the Book of the Year 2020. In the short interval of October to December 2019, 100,000 copies of the Bible were distributed.

In a choice that proved providential for the former Communist countries, so long severed from the organizational life of the world Church, the 1995 General Conference Session was organized in Europe, in Utrecht, Netherlands. More than 1,000 members and pastors, filled with joy and enthusiasm, attended a session for the first time in their lives, grateful to connect with tens of thousands of fellow believers, and with pastors and leaders of the world Church.

As a result of the new freedom of movement and in their desire for a better life, thousands of believers, especially youth, transitioned to various European countries, especially Spain, Italy, France, and Belgium, working not only for themselves, but also to improve the lives of their families in Romania and to support construction or mission plans of their churches of origin. The same happened with many Hungarian-speaking members from Transylvania, who moved to Hungary, and with the quasi-totality of the German-speaking members from Transylvania, who moved to Germany. In time, many people settled in those countries, making a significant contribution to the revitalization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church there. Thus, a new Romanian diaspora was formed, both in Romanian-speaking churches, ministered to by Romanian pastors, and in local churches, using the languages of the host countries. Adjusting to the cultural and spiritual conditions of the receiving countries were not without a price, both for those who left Romania and for those who remained there. The Romanian Union took the initiative of organizing periodic missionary conferences for the Romanian diaspora, aiming to provide spiritual support for the believers in a transitional period of their lives and to bring about synergy in missionary projects.

At the same time, this significant exodus of members, especially of youth, was painfully felt in Romania, as churches remained without the human resources so much needed during the construction effort and, after that, for the missionary and spiritual development of the Church. As these members transferred their membership to their new spiritual homes, there was a corresponding diminishing in the number of members in Romania. This had some negative consequences, both on the life of the local churches and on the organizational development of the Church, especially in the area of education.

1996 and 1998 made history for the Church, and even for the country, with the first satellite evangelism programs, usually called NET. For the first of them, over a period of just a couple of months, 330 churches managed to acquire equipment which, at the time, was both new technology and very expensive. The equipment needed for a church was valued at US$1,100, at a time when, in Romania, the average monthly salary was US$75. The highly sacrificial giving necessary for this project was followed by an unprecedented mobilization, also motivated by a sense of missionary re-integration with a world Church from which Romanian Adventists were for such a long time severed. Tens of thousands of visitors followed the series with simultaneous Romanian translation, and thousands joined the Church. Two years later, an additional 400 churches acquired the equipment and attended the programs transmitted live from Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

In 1999, Bucharest hosted its first NET series, which was also the first in a new project covering ten major cities around the world, called ACTS 2000. The speaker was Mark Finley, and the venue was Sala Palatului, a hall specially built for the most important Communist meetings of the country. In 2002, the first NET series with a Romanian speaker, Lucian Cristescu, was held in the chapel of the Adventist University and translated into several other languages.

A by-product of these large evangelistic programs supported by satellite technology and video projection was the beginning of local television production. The first broadcast was hosted, surprisingly, by the first Romanian news channel, RealitateaTV (2002-2004). The construction of an Adventist Media Center started in 2004, and the 24/7 TV channel of the Romanian Union, SperantaTV, was launched on April 30, 2007. Soon after that, the station became easily accessible, by cable, by about 75 percent of the households with a TV set in Romania, and by satellite in most of Europe. Recent polls show that SperantaTV is the best-known Adventist brand in Romania.

Unexpectedly, almost a decade after the fall of Communism, the Church was again nationally challenged on Sabbath observance by students. Since 1990, there were no Sabbath classes in the public schools of Romania. Occasionally, exams are scheduled on Sabbath, especially at college level. However, in 1999, when the Ministry of Education instituted for the first time a comprehensive examination to conclude the first eight years of schooling, one of the tests was scheduled for a Saturday. Extended negotiations for a change of date failed, and about 800 Adventist children were required, for the first time, to make a personal decision—to attend the test or not. Forfeiting the test would bar them from every educational institution for at least one year. These children had gone to school in a time of freedom and had no experience in fighting for the Sabbath. About 630 of them chose not to show up for the test, accepting all the serious consequences of their decision.33 The case was immediately taken to the courts and, after a couple of negative sentences in administrative courts, the case reached the Supreme Court. In an historical decision, the Court pronounced the Ministry of Education guilty of violating the right of the Adventist children to be free of discrimination in education. The Ministry was sentenced to organize a special testing for the Adventist children. This decision opened a new chapter for the freedom of religion in Romania and became a test case for the European Union, of which Romania is a member.

The humanitarian mission of the Church mobilized ample resources, both in local activities and in large-scale projects abroad. ADRA Romania moved, gradually, from a distributing agency for aid received from other countries to a contributing agency for local and international relief and developmental programs. Two remarkable examples were the outstanding contributions following the tsunami disaster in southeast Asia and the deadly earthquake in Haiti. Moreover, Adventist volunteers work systematically in almost every prison of Romania, with many dozens of converts being baptized when released or even while in prison. Furthermore, “Rise and Walk” (Ridică-te și Umblă), a humanitarian association belonging to the denomination, provides support for persons with physical disabilities, with outstanding results in the lives of many. Initiated in Bucharest, the program is now active in many other places.

The spiritual lives of the members and the worship experience of the church have been enriched by the preparation and publishing of a new hymnal of high standards, both in literary content and in music (still indebted to the German Reformation heritage and also adopting much of the American Protestant hymnology). The new hymnal also contributes to the integration of the Romanian Church within the world Church and gives a place, albeit small, to the musical heritage of the nation. An identical hymnal was also produced in Hungarian, to facilitate the united worship in the bilingual churches in Transylvania.

Sources

Bocăneanu,  Adrian. “Sabatul” [The Sabbath]. Curierul Adventist, May-June, 1999.

_____________. “Romania.” In Heirs of the Reformation: The Story of Seventh-day Adventists in Europe, eds., Hugh Dunton, Daniel Heinz, Dennis Porter, and Ronald Strasdowski. Grantham: Stanborough Press, 1997.

Bourdeau, A. C. “Beginning of Our Work in Rumania.” European Division Conference Quarterly Report, Second Quarter 1913.

___________. “Roumania.” ARH, September 23, 1884.

Conradi, Ludwig R. “A Visit to Rumania.” ARH, January 12, 1892.

___________. “Ballarat.” Bible Echo, November 1, 1893.

___________. “Notes by the Way.” ARH, March 19, 1895.

___________. “The German Mission Field.” ARH, December 13, 1892.

___________. “Roumania and Austria-Hungary.” ARH, October 4, 1906.

Costa-Foru G. C. “Adventiștii mai creștini decât noi.” (Adventist Are Better Christians than We Are) Adevărul, July 3, 1922.

Demetrescu, Ștefan. “Raport asupra celei de a douăsprezecea adunare anuală a câmpului și a doua a Conferinței Române.” [Report on the 12th Annual Meeting of the Field and the Second of the Romanian Conference] Curierul Misionar, vol. 1, no. 3, 1916.

Eliade, Mircea. The Romanians: A Concise History. Bucharest: Roza Vânturilor Publishing House, 1992.

Gehann, Gűnter Întreita solie în Austro-Ungaria și România 1869-1938. Graphe, 2008.

Huenergardt, J. F., “In Benighted Southern Europe.” European Division Conference Quarterly Report, fourth quarter 1913.

Ising, Walter K., “The European Field.” ARH, June 15, 1922.

Modoran, Gheorghe, “Theo Rema, Editura Institutului Teologic Adventist.” Cernica, January 2008.

___________. Biserica prin pustiul rosu. Rezistenta si compromis in adventismul din Romania in perioada comunista (1944-1965). [The Church Through the Red Desert: Resistance and Compromise in Adventism in Romania during the Communist Period (1944-1965)]. Pantelimon: Viata si Sanatate, 2013.

Neagu, Daniel-Adrian, “Istoria bisericii adventiste din România și impactul ei asupra societății românești 1870-1932.” (The History of the Adventist Church in Romania and Its Impact on the Romanian Society, 1870-1932), Ph.D. dissertation, University of Bucharest, 2013.

Olsen, O. A. “Hamburg, Germany.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, November 1, 1891.

Popa, Dumitru, Pagini din istoria bisericii adventiste de ziua a șaptea din România 1870-1920 [Pages of the History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Romania] vol. 1. București: Casa de editură Viață și Sănătate.

___________. Biografii ale pionierilor Bisericii Adventiste de ziua a șaptea din Romania [Biographies of the Pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Romania]. Bucharest, 1997.

Ribton, Herbert P. “Report from Egypt.” ARH, January 1, 1880.

Notes

  1. Mircea Eliade, The Romanians: A Concise History (Bucharest: Roza Vânturilor Publishing House, 1992), 16

  2. Herbert P. Ribton, “Report from Egypt,” ARH, January 1, 1880, 13.

  3. See A. C. Bourdeau, “Roumania,” ARH, September 23, 1884, 620; “Beginning of Our Work in Rumania,” European Division Conference Quarterly Report, second quarter 1913, 34-36.

  4. Ludwig R. Conradi, “Ballarat,” Bible Echo, November 1, 1893, 349.

  5. Ludwig R. Conradi, “The German Mission Field,” ARH, December 13, 1892, 773; Gűnter Gehann, Întreita solie în Austro-Ungaria și România 1869-1938 (Graphe, 2008), 58

  6. She did not stay for long in Hamburg. However, we find her listed with the staff of the European Mission, in charge of correspondence and Bible studies in Transylvania. O. A. Olsen, “Hamburg, Germany,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, November 1, 1891, 332.

  7. It seems that his correct name was Johann Schotsch Gehann, Întreita solie în Austro-Ungaria și România 1869- 1938, 60. According to Conradi he studied at Friedensau. See Ludwig R. Conradi, “Notes by the Way,” ARH, March 19, 1895, 169. He also mentions that the two met on February 13, 1895, in Brașov, and learned that Tentesch was having difficulty in selling literature produced outside of the borders of Hungary.

  8. Dumitru Popa, Biografii ale pionierilor Bisericii Adventiste de ziua a șaptea din Romania (Biographies of the Pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Romania) (Bucharest, 1997), 120-121.

  9. He wrote about this visit in the January 12, 1892, issue of ARH. See Conradi, “A Visit to Rumania,” 26.

  10. Conradi, “Notes by the Way,” 170.

  11. Dumitru Popa, Pagini din istoria bisericii adventiste de ziua a șaptea din România 1870-1920 (Pages of the History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Romania) vol. 1 (București: Casa de editură Viață și Sănătate), 679.

  12. Gheorghe Modoran, “TheoRema, Editura Institutului Teologic Adventist,” Cernica, January 2008, 203.

  13. Ana Klör, nee Foof, was from Brașov and spoke German, so Pastor Adomeit was able to discuss with her and to give her Adventist literature. See Popa, op. cit., 679.

  14. V. D. Cojea, COJEA V.D., Vechi cărări advente [Old Adventist Ways] (CARD, 1998), 45.

  15. Nicolae Jelescu (1847-1947), according to oral information, was a graduate of the Music Conservatory of Bucharest. Besides the honor of playing in the royal orchestra, he also had a senior position in the Ministry of Communications. His son, Emil Jelescu, graduated from the Music Conservatory of Paris and was, for a while, a member of the Adventist church in Bucharest.

  16. Conradi, “Roumania and Austria-Hungary,” ARH, October 4, 1906, 13.

  17. Popa, 473

  18. The following: Arad, Făgăraș, Cluj (Cojocna), Brașov, Șeica Mare, Pszony, Sighișoara, and Scaterred (isolated members in towns without a church).

  19. Popa, op. cit., 587.

  20. Quoted by Popa, op. cit., 596.

  21. Walter K. Ising, “The European Field,” ARH, June 15, 1922, 8. W. K. Ising reports of 700 members.

  22. Popa, op. cit., 602.

  23. J. F. Huenergardt, “In Benighted Southern Europe,” European Division Conference Review, European Division Conference Quarterly Report, fourth quarter 1913, 81

  24. Popa, op. cit., 501.

  25. Stefan Demetrescu, “Raport asupra celei de a douăsprezecea adunare anuală a câmpului și a doua a Conferinței Române” [Report on the 12th Annual Meeting of the Field and the Second of the Romanian Conference] Curierul Misionar, vol. 1, no. 3, 1916, 32-37.

  26. According to the official statistical report for 1920: 2,540 members in 99 churches. Annual Statistical Report, December 31, 1920, 10.

  27. See Daniel-Adrian Neagu, “Istoria bisericii adventiste din România și impactul ei asupra societății românești 1870-1932” (The History of the Adventist Church in Romania and Its Impact on the Romanian Society, 1870-1932), Ph.D. dissertation, University of Bucharest, 2013, 215; and Popa, Pagini din istoria bisericii adventiste de ziua a șaptea din România, 82-106. Constantin Tolici (1900-1984) worked in Madagascar from 1930 to 1936. Ieremie Florea left for the United States in 1938, while Ilie Curmătureanu left for Cameroon in 1939. Florea and Curmătureanu did not return to Romania, serving in those territories until the end of their lives.

  28. See Popa, 143-145.

  29. G. C. Costa-Foru, a renowned attorney, journalist, and activist for human rights, in an article published by the daily Adevărul, one of the most circulated between the two world wars, described the Adventists as “the most ethical Persons and the Best Citizens.” See, G. C. Costa-Foru, “Adventiștii mai creștini decât noi,” (Adventist Are Better Christians than We Are) Adevărul July 3, 1922, 1-2.

  30. Annual Statistical Report, 1948, 18.

  31. Twenty-five church administrators and 60 pastors have been interrogated for three months, as the authorities wanted to learn more about the so-called “secret account,” one which was not reported to the authorities, used by the leadership of the church as deemed appropriate to them. In the end, Ștefan Năilescu, union president, and Arthur Văcăreanu, union treasurer, were sentenced to ten years of imprisonment, while all others were acquitted. For more details, see Gheorghe Modoran, Biserica prin pustiul rosu. Rezistenta si compromis in adventismul din Romania in perioada comunista (1944-1965) [The Church Through the Red Desert: Resistance and Compromise in Adventism in Romania during the Communist Period (1944-1965)] (Pantelimon: Viata si Sanatate, 2013), 330-354

  32. Quoted by Adrian Bocaneanu, “Romania,” in Heirs of the Reformation: The Story of Seventh-day Adventists in Europe, eds., Hugh Dunton, Daniel Heinz, Dennis Porter, and Ronald Strasdowski, eds. (Grantham: Stanborough Press, 1997), 191.

  33. See Adrian Bocăneanu, “Sabatul” [The Sabbath] Curierul Adventist, May-June, 1999, 3.

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Bocaneanu, Adrian, Daniel-Adrian Neagu. "Romania." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed May 14, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=GAHR.

Bocaneanu, Adrian, Daniel-Adrian Neagu. "Romania." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access May 14, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=GAHR.

Bocaneanu, Adrian, Daniel-Adrian Neagu (2021, April 28). Romania. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 14, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=GAHR.