Methodist Church

The Varna bell rings again …

VARNA (Bulgaria) – For more than 70 years, a beautiful bell rang in the tower of the Methodist Church in Varna, Bulgaria. From the time it was given as a gift to the Methodist Church in Bulgaria in 1890, it called the people to worship with joy and expectation after their liberation from 500 years of domination.

As the bell reminded the people that they belonged to a world parish of “the people called Methodist”, the church became the centre of spiritual and cultural life in town.

However, during the Communist regime of the 60s, the church building was confiscated. One Sunday the congregation came to church and it was closed. Benches, hymnals and pulpit were all thrown out into the fields. e people were forbidden to come near the church and were forbidden to gather for worship.

When the church building was later converted into a puppet theatre, the bell tower was demolished. Three brave young people pretended to be workers, took the bell, and buried it in a secret garden. For nearly 40 years, the bell lay silent in its grave in the garden.

Evil never has the last word! When the winds of change came across Bulgaria, the church building was reclaimed. In a gesture of goodwill, the congregation offered the “puppet theatre” to the children of Varna and in gratitude, the government donated a new plot of ground for the building of a new church. Even though construction of the new church building took more than a decade, at the beginning of the process, the congregation resurrected the 250-kg (550-pound) bell from its garden tomb.

When the new bell tower was completed, the bell was placed at the highest point in the sky above Varna.

The congregation decided that the bell would not ring until the entire building was completed and dedicated to the glory of God. The Lord continued to bless the people. Many people contributed and, through World Methodist Evangelism, a family made a huge sacrifice to help finish the church.

On the day of dedication, Sept 29, 2002 – after nearly 40 years of silence – the bell rang again!

Today, the very precious bell chimes from the tower of the new Methodist Church in Varna. One of the young people who buried the bell is now Superintendent Bedros Altunian who said: “As the pastor, I stand each Sunday morning with the congregation, listening to each toll of our bell as it resonates in our hearts and testifies to the faithfulness of God.”

The bell calls the people to worship in joy, expectation and confidence. The Varna bell rings! – World Methodist Evangelism Division, World Methodist Council.