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Romania: Religious Liberty event with US Deputy Ambassador

"Where religious liberty is, democracy can prosper!"

Romania: Religious Liberty event with US Deputy Ambassador

Bucharest, Romania.Gabriel Isvan (COM & PARL Director, Muntenia Conference), CD-EUDNEWS.

On Saturday, April 2nd 2016, the Seventh Day Adventist Church “Popa Tatu” from Bucharest was the host of “Open Door Day” with the theme “Liberty - The ultimate gift and right of human”. The event, organised by the local church and by the Religious Liberty Department of Muntenia Conference, was honoured with the presence of some prestigious public institutions.

His Excellency, Ambassador for the United States of America in Bucharest, Mr. Hans Klemm was represented by the Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr. Dean Thompson, who started his speech with a few words in Romanian. In his speech, Mr. Thompson emphasized the reality that Romanians started to experience after the fall of communism: “The return to democracy brought to light again the religious and spiritual reach of Romania, showing that where religious liberty is, democracy can prosper. The state should unabatedly protect the religious identity of every and all citizens and defend the religious minorities from any discrimination. Mutual respect to the right to believe in what we believe is fundamental to establishing a democratic, healthy society.”

AIDLR, the Seventh Day Adventist NGO through which Adventist values are displayed at UNO, The European Parliament and European Commission, OSCE and other forums, was represented by Dr. Liviu Olteanu, the Secretary General. In his speech, he presented a sad truth: in these days, one Christian is killed at every 5 minutes. Starting from the first century until today, over 70 millions of Christians have been martyred, including 40 million Christians who were killed in the last century. Dr. Liviu Olteanu quoted the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Dr. Olteanu then added, “To be someone's friend means infinitely more than to have friends; to be free is more important than having freedom." To help mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence between different religious groups, AIDLR edited several valuable books on freedom of conscience. The most recently translated book in the Romanian language, "The History of Freedom and Respect for Difference" was released to the Romanian public on this occasion, as a valuable tool through which many people can understand and respect the differences between the many religious cultures.

Dr. Daniel Zikeli, vicar bishop of the Lutheran Church in Romania, talked about Christian freedom by recalling the words of the great man of God, Martin Luther: "The Christian is free lord over all, never being a subject to anybody. The Christian is subject to everyone. A Christian is free and cannot be liable by anyone, but in love, he becomes the servant of all.” Daniel Zikeli presented some unknown information in Romania, about the preparations for the celebration of the Jubilee Year of the Reformation - on October 31st 2017, Christianity will celebrate 500 years since the initialisation of the Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther. The jubilee year will be celebrated conjunctively by the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church, a result of the important steps taken in recent years toward bringing the two churches together. Pope Francis, himself, will attend the opening of the Jubilee Year of Reform, October 31st 2016 in Lund, Sweden, said Father Zikeli.

Profound thoughts inspired from principle of freedom have been emphasized further by MP Bogdan Ciuca, President of the Legal, Discipline and Immunities committee of the Romanian Parliament. In his speech, Mr. Ciuca focused the public attention on the most convincing definition of liberty. The supreme definition of liberty is the one the Bible gives; it cannot be imposed only by law of state because the source of true freedom is love. He explained, “Freedom means to not have reasons to run away or to hide from God." Mr. Ciuca also concluded that “liberty is a fundamental value, if it springs from love and truth; the freedom of the one next to me is as important as mine and freedom is a common goal, a social value to which all should contribute.”

Mr. Trandafir Popovici, Pastor of Golgota Baptist Church in Bucharest, presented the greetings of his church to all, from Paul's Epistle to the Romans 12:12. He stressed that only the truth frees people and our greatest need is precisely this freedom in truth. The exhortation which concluded Pastor Popovici’s message was: "To be free, we must know the truth - Jesus Christ - to be dead to sin and alive to Christ and to know the relationship that we have with Jesus Christ.”

In presenting the preoccupation and ministry of the Adventist Church worldwide and local, Pastor Gabriel Isvan, Director of Religious Liberty - Conference Muntenia - pointed out that when a church is allowed to freely manifest its values, it becomes a blessing for all society. As an example, each year the worldwide Adventist schools teach more than 1,500,000 students, nearly half of them being from of non-Adventist families; in Adventist health institutions more than 15 millions people are treated annually, and the charitable activities of Adventists are helping 36 million people annually. Since the Adventist Church was allowed to unfold freely in our country, more and more benefit from the involvement of Romanian Adventists in social life.

Popa Tatu Adventist Church in Bucharest was a very good host to support and organise a program of this magnitude. The guest speeches were complemented by music played by “Promusica” Orchestra conducted by Ionel Pascu.

The "Open Door Day” event was an opportunity to reiterate the principle of the freedom God gave man from the beginning. World history made the demonstration of the truth that where religious freedom is allowed, all freedoms can grow and flourish; where religious freedom is denied, in reality we cannot speak about any other general freedoms.

The "Open Door Day: Liberty - The ultimate gift and right of humans" ended with biblical prayer of intercession for the authorities and rulers, offered by the local church Pastor Gabriel Dinca.