Meeting of the Board of Directors of Advocates Europe in Sofia
On the 14th and 15th of January a Meeting of the Board of Directors of Advocates Europe (AE) took place at the RLI office in Sofia. Lawyer Latchezar Popov is the President of AE. Various issues of AE were discussed including: activities, budgeting, and plans for the development and enlargement of AE. The meeting proved to be successful as it related to the new strategy of Advocates Europe which is to transition from individual to corporate membership, as well as in addressing the increasing role of the national Christian lawyers’ organizations.
On January 17th the first Business Breakfast for 2006 was held in “Dublin” Restaurant. Our guest-speaker was Mr. Traicho Stefanov from the First Pentecostal Church, leader of the “New wave” movement. His lecture was titled, “Spiritual mentorship”. That topic will be further developed by the lector in a series of lectures to be held in January and February.
Start of Traicho Stefanov’s Course on “Spiritual Mentorship”
On the last day of January Traicho Stefanov’s course on “Spiritual Mentorship” began in the office as part of the “Mentorship” project. The first lecture focused on the problem of the “Distinction between Spiritual Mentor and Spiritual Father”.Over 20 people participated, actively expressing their opinions and asking questions to the lector. Many of the participants shared their personal Christian experience, contributing to the mutual benefit of the course.
“Spiritual Mentorship” Course
7th and 21st February
The “Spiritual Mentorship” course under the direction of Traicho Stefanov continued in February exploring the topics: “What are the Values that Should Guide Us?” and “What can we Change? How?” The course was held in an arena of friendly conversation and discussion. The participants conveyed their enjoyment in the topics discussed and expressed their desire that RLI continue its on-going project, “Mentorship”, with new initiatives.
On February 28th, RLI organized a Business Breakfast in “Dublin” Restaurant and invited Mr. Scot Gill, National Director of “Agape Bulgaria”, as a guest-speaker. His presentation dealth with the problems of the contemporary Bulgarian family in light of Christian faith and values. RLI is part of “My Family” Coalition which is overseen by “Agape Bulgaria” and is a union of non-governmental organizations designed to promote the family as a basic Christian value. It aims to uncover the difficulties facing the contemporary Christian family and the ways to overcome them.
The Business Breakfast was held in “Dublin” Restaurant on March 14, 2006. Mr. Sam Casey, President of Christian Legal Society was our guest-speaker. He spoke on the topic of “Cooperation of Christian Lawyers All Over the World”. Later on that evening, Mr. Casey was a special guest at the regularly held prayer meeting at the office of the Institute. He met with members and friends of RLI for a time of common prayer and discussions.
Steering Committee Meeting of the Balkan Human Rights Network – Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro
30th March – 1st April
During March 30th through April 1st, the 20th Steering Committee Meeting of the Balkan Human Rights Network took place in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro. Diavena Kalcheva, Coordinator of RLI, represented the Institute at the event. The Steering Committee revised its entire policies and outlined a new priority in the network – integration of human rights in the sphere of business. The budget for the upcoming year was accepted and it was decided that the member organizations should pay fees on an annual basis.
European Religious Liberty Forum, Sofia
30th March – 2nd April
On March 30th through April 2nd 25 participants from 14 countries gathered in Sofia for the European Religious Liberty Forum, organized by the Rule of Law Institute and the European Evangelical Alliance.The first day was dedicated entirely to the cases of the Alternative Synod of Bulgarian Orthodox Church before the European Court on Human Rights in Strasbourg. The participants in the Forum met personally with the priests from the Alternative Synod and took part in a common service in open. The next several days were dedicated to addressing the work of participating organizations and how it correlated to the violation and protection of religious human rights and freedoms. The delegates expressed their concern arising from the reports on the persecution and detention of pastors and lawyers for preaching in a private house in Belarus. The participants then signed a Declaration to the President and Parliament of the Republic of Belarus. This was intended to show their disapproval with the actions of authorities there and their insistence on religious freedom in accordance to international treaties.
Spiritual Formation Institute Conferences of Preston Gillham
6th – 9th April
The preliminary conference of the Spiritual Formation Institute Conferences with lecturer Mr. Preston Gillham (Forth Worth, Texas, USA) was held in the office of RLI on April 6th – 9th. Preston Gillham is the founder and President of Lifetime Guarantee – an organization devoted to presenting the message of Jesus Christ and its relation to consulting according to the Bible. He is also the founder and President of Gillham Consulting. His efforts focus primarily on organizing seminars on leadership and business strategy. 25 members of the Institute from Sofia and other parts of Bulgaria took part in the preliminary conference. In an open forum the participants had an opportunity to as questions to the lecturer and to work in small groups. RLI plans to organize the basic level conference from June 29th until July 2, 2006 in Yundola, as well as to continue developing the mentorship program by an upper level conference in the fall.
RLI organized a Business Breakfast on April 18, 2006 and invited as a guest-speaker Prof. Dechko Svilenov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences) who is a doctor of biological sciences, member of the Board of Directors of RLI, and author of many publications in the field of biology and ethics. Dr, Dechko Svilenov is the author of “Evolution or Creation. What does the Sciences Say”, “The Past, Present and Future of Mankind According to the Bible – the things that everybody is supposed to know about the end of the world” and is co-author of “Christian Ethics”. At the Business Breakfast, he gave a lecture titled, “Christians with Responsibility – transition in the experience of the younger generation and conceptions about the elderly”.
The case of “Christian Center - Sofia” and Pastor Hazurbasanov
The activities of “Christian Center - Sofia” were misrepresented in a series of slanted articles in the “24 Chasa” newspaper. The Rule of Law Institute which had delivered legal help to Pastor Hazurbasanov, submitted a claim on behalf of “Christian Center - Sofia” and Pastor Hazurbasanov before the Commission Against Discrimination. On April 17, 2006 the Commission pronounced a decision with a finding of existence of direct discrimination and mandated that the editor-in-chief, Venelina Gocheva, and the journalist, Vera Slavcheva, take necessary measures to ensure that similar violations of the anti-discrimination legislation in Bulgaria would not be committed in the future. But the Commission refused to acknowledge the existence of indirect discrimination and to impose a fine. It also rejected the demand of the applicants for an adequate opportunity to refute the misrepresentations. Within the 14 days granted by the court, the decision of the Commission Against Discrimination was appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court.