Some people attend the Evangelical Reformed Church in Bucharest for curiosity, but stay for its message. Corcea thinks that Reformed churches have an advantage over Eastern Orthodox because both the liturgy and the Scriptures are intelligible. Besides, the congregation can sit down, while in Eastern Orthodox churches they stand the whole time. At the same time, Reformed worship is reverent and based on historical formulas and creeds which people can recognize.
No course of study or pastoral training prepared Rev. Mihai Corcea for the loneliness he experienced on the mission field of Romania‚ even though it’s his native land. It’s not a lack of companionship (he has a lovely wife and a young, energetic son). Rather, Corcea described his loneliness as “being overwhelmed by the opposition around me,” and not having other pastors nearby that share the same experience.
The Making of a Pastor
Corcea is pastor of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Bucharest, a mission of the United Reformed Church in North America (URCNA). He was born into a nominal Eastern Orthodox family and attended the local Orthodox church with his grandparents. When he was a teenager, Corcea’s parents began attending an Evangelical church and brought him along to worship. He soon became interested in reading the Bible and some Christian books. He later became convinced of the soundness of the Reformed confessions in 2006, while spending some time in Holland with a Reformed family.
After earning a degree in business management and marrying his wife Lidia, he settled in Bucharest where they attended a mainline Lutheran church. Slowly, he met other people who were interested in the teachings of the Reformation. Together, they started a mid-week Bible study.
Soon, it was clear that Romania needed a Reformed church. Corcea contacted several churches in Europe for support and advice, and received an answer from Rev. Andrea Ferrari, pastor of the Reformed Church Filadelfia in Milan, Italy (also a URCNA mission). Mihai and Lidia became members of that church and attended as often as they could, given the distance of over 1000 miles.
The consistories of both Milan and Santee, CA (the overseeing church) agreed that Corcea was called to be a pastor. With their encouragement, in 2013 he began his studies at Westminster Seminary California (WSC) in Escondido, graduating in 2016. After his ordination as URCNA minister, Corcea returned to his country. On August 7, 2016, the first service of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Bucharest took place in an office building.
“I soon learned that the place and format of the worship service matters much in Romania,” Corcea said. The visitors were few, and rarely returned. Things changed when he moved into an actual church building which he shares with a Lutheran congregation. “The cross on the roof makes a difference,” he explained.