Rev. Michael Bourdeaux Arrived in Iasi

Today in the early afternoon Rev Cannon Michael Bourdeaux, from Keston College, arrived in Iasi for a few days of lectures at the university, on the history of communism.

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We have had the pleasure of having him as a guest at our table tonight, for a Romanian dinner.

Tomorrow morning at 10am we start work.

Since I am at it, let me tell you how I have met Rev Bourdeaux for the first time.

It was in Bucharest, most probably in 1976, during one of the most troubled congresses of the Romanian Baptist Union. That was the occasion of one of the most powerful clashes between the conservative (Baptist leaders inclined to a more lenient relationship with communist authorities) and the radicals, led by Iosif Ton and Pavel Nicolescu, who have taken a position of resistance towards the pressures of the communist regime.

During that congress, a group of young Baptists, including myself, were allowed to watch the works of the congress from the balcony of the Golgotha Baptist Church in Bucharest, where the event was taking place (in the afternoon, realising that we side rather with the radicals, the conservatives, who were controlling the event, did not allow us anymore in the balcony). Later in the evening, just before the lunch break, a short man, with a bag on his shoulder came in the meeting hall, and, I will never forget that image, because all seats were taken, and nobody offered him one, he sat on the floor, in the isle. We, the young people, wondered who this is. Soon Iosif Ton, who knew him well from his time in Oxford, came and sat him on the first row of seats.

During the break, we have found out that this was the famous Rev. Bourdeaux, from Keston College, the Centre for the Study of Religion and Communism, in Oxford, England. His name was well known to everybody in the religious dissident movement of the time in Eastern Europe. We also knew Alan Scarfe, the British student (now an Episcopalian/Anglican bishop in the US) sent by Keston in Romania, to study theology and a postgraduate, but also to report on the complicated situation of religious freedom in our country. I was him that I have called on the phone in the UK, in the Fall of 1978, when my friend (then), Genovieva Sfatcu, was interrogated by the secret police, after Iosif Ton was arrested in Iasi, because of one of his reports on the religious persecution in Romania.

Some time after the fall of communism, I had the privilege of meeting a number times Rev Bourdeaux in England, and also to visit with him and his lovely wife in their house on the outskirts of Oxford. It was then that we started dreaming about the possibility of his visit to Iasi. His presence here is for me a dream come true.

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Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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