The Beginning: 1899 - 1918
In 1899 E.H. Broadbent, the author of the church history book entitled 'The Pilgrim Church', visited Bucharest and noticed that there was no evangelical church in the city to preach the gospel in the Romanian language. When he returned to England, he wrote an article about this in a Christian magazine; the article was read by Francis Berney, who in that time, was the principal of a Christian Scholl in Tunis, Tunisia. Berney came to Bucharest with his family and one of his friends, Charels Aubert, in the fall of 1899. In October 1899, he turned the dining room of his house on 82 Teilor Street into an auditorium and stared the first service in French. Then in November 1901, they started preaching the Word in Romanian as well.
However, because of the opposition of the Orthodox Church, Francis Berney had to leave Romania half way through 1909. He settled for a while in Rusciuk (Ruse - Bulgaria) and came often to visit Bucharest. He held a 25-day training school for Romanian ministers. Three of these ministers were Grigore Constantinescu, Moise I. Florea (Known as Florea Moisescu) who had a keen evangelistic gift and Gheroghe Oprea Teodorescu ? who had the gift of pastoral care and encouragement. As they increased in number, the group of Christians move to different locations until 1908 when the settled at 67 Gh. D. Palade Street. In 1925 they moved to a new location at 31 Episcopul Radu Street.
Antioch: A Missionary Church Between the Two World Wars
In 1919, right after the first World War, Francis Berney sent Grigore Constantiescu and Florea Moisescu to Switzerland to pursue their studies. The cam back to Bucharest in 1921 and got involved in evangelism and traing Christians by preaching and writing. From 1928 to 1941, Florea Moisescu was the editor of two magazines, 'Life and Light' (an evangelistic magazine) and 'The Christian' (a magazine about doctrine and spiritual growth).
In 1922, Pal Perret, a Swiss missionary and Berney's son-in-law, came to Bucharest. He preached the Word, work to equip the ministers of the gospel and continued his ministry through the two Christian magazines. However, in 1943, the Perret Family had to leave Romania for good. During this time the ministry spread from Bucharest and Ploesti to the surrounding counties: Ilfov, Teleoman, Vlasca, Dambovita and Muscel and reading out to Dobrogea.
At the same time, the church in Bucharest was growing as well, and therefore moved locations to 76 Dragos Voda Street. Starting in 1924, Ilie Georgescu from Bucharest helped plant churches in Craiova, and Tita Dumitru, a man who came to know the Lord in Bucharest, serviced the Lord in the church in Craiova his entire life.
From 1942 to 1945, general Antonescu and his regime began persecuting the evangelical church. Churches were shut down and many Christians were captured and imprisoned, while others where sent to fight on the front lines in battles against soviet armies while their properties were seized and taken away.
Antioch: A Fighting Church During Communism
As the Antioch Church continued to grow from 1945 to 1989, a new church was planted in Bucharest called 'Biserica Lumina' or 'Church of Light'. At the same time, many ministers from the Antioch Church, such as Florea Moisescu, Marin Ionescu, Gheorghe Oprea Teodorescu and Isidor Braunstein, served in many churches around Buchrest and the whole country. This period became know for the formation of many churches. The in 1962, many of the smaller churches combined to create larger ones. In the mean time, pressure from government authorities increased, as they began controlling the churches by planting informants and trying to intimidate and manipulate the pastors.
In 1985, three young men from the church, Elisei Rusu (editor the the Christian Magazine, 'The Way of Faith'), Cornel Mich and Levi Necula were arrested and sentenced to forced labor and imprisonment, being charged with organizing a chain of Bible and Christian literature distribution. Two other Christians from the church, Eugen Lupu and Figel Gont, were also arrested.
Antioch: A Visionary Church for the 21st Century
After December 1989, Antioch Church experienced significant growth as the number of believers doubled in just a few years. In 1999, the church moved to its present location at 53-55 Episcopul Radu Street. The youth of the church worked with pastors to plant new churches in the area (Chitila, Valtoarei and Agape) and also to strengthen existing churches in Bucharest (Izbanda, Lumina, Muncii and outside of the city (Vidra, Giugiu, Alexandria, Balotesti, Gaiseni).