Walking through the center of Plovdiv you may have seen the steeple. You probably have passed by the building many times and wondered if it was open and could you see the inside. You may have wondered how the building came to be built. What exactly is it? This is the Evangelical Congregational Church in Plovdiv and we would like to introduce you to its history, life and activity. Would you invest a few minutes to learn more about one of the most majestic churches of Protestantism in the Balkans?
The construction was accomplished and consecrated in 1901. It was proclaimed a cultural monument for its unique architecture. At first glance it looks like a cathedral on the outside, however the differences are perceivable on the inside. It is all vast, spacious and sunlit. In the church halls there are no icons or candles, but instead only Bible inscriptions, stained glass and a Cross – the symbol of Christianity. You may fail to notice this detail, but Christ is not depicted on the Cross because we believe in His Resurrection and ascension to Heaven.
In the first half of 19th century, American missionaries, Dr. Riggs and Dr. Hamlin, discovered “a new people” in the Balkans, the Bulgarian people. In 1857 missionaries were sent to Bulgaria to attend to the secular and spiritual enlightenment of these Bulgarian people.
Among the first missionaries were Dr. Clark, Dr. Haskell and Dr. Merriam. Their arrival to Plovdiv in 1858, was the beginning of the Protestantism in this city. Church services began to be held every Sunday morning and was attended by many citizens.
The community grew larger and in 1883 it developed into an official Evangelical Church. Plovdiv became a missionary station lead by the vigorous Dr. Marsh and his wife. They lived in Plovdiv for 40 years. It was Dr. Marsh who organized and supervised the construction of the church building you see now – a massive, beautiful building in Gothic architectural style made of ashlar masonry.
The church building, built at the foot of Sahat Tepe [the Clock tower hill], was officially consecrated at the Second General Meeting of the Evangelical Congregational Churches in 1901.
Since then, ECC Plovdiv has been a part of the Plovdiv citizens’ lives and every Sunday morning the chiming church bell, invites the people to worship God and devote their lives to Him. You, too, are welcome to our services or just come to talk about issues of the faith.