Protestantism in Albania
|Evangelical Protestantism in Albania|
|Governance||Autonomous independent churches and organizations, but voluntarily cooperative|
|Distinct fellowships||Baptist, Brethren, Assemblies of God, non-denominational groups, etc.|
|Associations||Various regional associations|
|Region||Albania, with partnerships in Kosovo and other Albanian regions|
|Founder||The Apostle Paul, Gjerasim Qiriazi|
|Origin||ca. A.D. 60; 1890
Illyricum (Romans 15:19); Manastir (present-day Bitola, Macedonia) (later in Korça, Albania)
|Other name(s)||Albanian Evangelical Churches|
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Evangelical Protestantism is one of five officially recognized faiths in Albania. It is a Christian faith that views Jesus Christ as its founder and head, and the Bible (especially the New Testament) as its written authority. Evangelical Protestants in Albania numbered approximately 8,000 in 1998. The International Religious Freedom Report of 2007 reported 189 different Protestant associations and groups. Unlike other official religions in Albania, Evangelical Protestants are not organized under a hierarchy with an official head, but operate autonomously in separate churches or organizations bearing different denominational or non-denominational names. Most, but not all Evangelical/Protestant groups are members of the Albania's Evangelical Brotherhood (VUSH), a cooperative organization which views itself as existing as "an instrument of blessing … with the purpose of promoting unity amongst the churches, representing every local church with dignity, and promoting evangelism."
The first recorded Albanian Protestant was Said Toptani. In 1853, after having been in Paris, Vienna, and Venice, the patriot, Said Toptani, came back home and preached Protestantism in Tirana, but in 1864 was interned in Akra [now in Turkey]. It is not known how many other people were converted through his preaching, or if a church started as a result.
The first Albanian Protestant churches of the modern times was formed in Manastir, modern-day Republic of Macedonia, then Ottoman Empire, by British missionaries, and one one in Korca by American missionaries, and Lord Paget's Anglican Church in Scutari (Shkodra) built in about 1868. Two of the first Albanians to become Protestants were Nikolla and Dhimitër of Manastir in year 1876. One year later Gjerasim Qiriazi also converted to Protestantism. By 1882 the Albanian Evangelical Church of Manastir had 36 believers. In 1890 Gjerasim Qiriazi was ordained as an evangelist preacher by the American College in Samokov, Bulgaria. The second church among Albanians was opened in Korça. Qiriazi was also the head of the first national society within Albania named “Evangelical Brotherhood”. As a result Gjerasim Qiriazi is considered as the father of the Albanian Protestant Church.
- The Christian evangelization of Albania was apostolic, since the Apostle Paul visited the territories of modern Albania. Gjerasim Qiriazi is considered the first Albanian preacher in the modern Protestant tradition.
- FLETORJA ZYRTARE E REPUBLIKËS SË SHQIPËRISË. Nr. 34, 07 prill 2011.
- "First Protestant Church Dedicated". Christianity Today Library.
- "International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Albania". US Dept. of State/Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. www.state.gov. 2006-09-15. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
- http://www.vush.org (official website)
- "Lord Paget in Shkodra".
- "Development of the Protestant church amongst Albanians". Kosova Protestant Evangelical Church.
- Young, David. Lëvizja protestante midis shqiptarëve, 1908-1991. Prishtina: TENDA, 2011.
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