A Brief Profile of Romanians in North America

Mark Hobafcovich
North American Mission Board, SBC
Office of European Ministries

Romanians In North American


Historical Perspective

A. Country of Origin -
Historically, the Romanians are descendants of two very old peoples: The Dacians and the Romans. The Dacians were the ancient inhabitants of the land that now is Romania.

B. Language(s) - The Romanian language evolved from Latin.












C. Religious background - Most Romanian-Americans identify themselves as Romanian Orthodox. Under Communist rule, religion in Romania was officially viewed as a personal matter, but the government made efforts to undermine religious teachings and faith in favor of science and empirical knowledge. As a result, biblical ignorance is high, and people are suspicious of the motives of evangelical churches. Because of the spiritual vacuum created by the Communist regime, people are in search of spiritual fulfillment. Many are gradually understanding and accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ.

D. Southern Baptist Work - The first Romanian Baptist Church in America was organized in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 1, 1910, with 48 charter members. In 1913, the first convention of the Romanian Baptist Association was held. Nine Romanian Baptist churches were represented through 17 messengers. Today, there are over 50 congregations in the United States and Canada. The Romanian Baptist Youth Association, an arm of the Romanian Fellowship, is very active in mission work in the United States, Canada, and Romania and its Diaspora. Romanian Baptist leaders are praying that the number of congregations will increase significantly, with many planted in the growing Romanian communities in the United States and Canada. This vision of church growth is challenged by the need for Christian workers, training, and partnering churches for the new congregations in identified metropolitan areas. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will bring forth new laborers and that many Romanian Americans will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

E. Subcultures - There are variations of cultures of Romanian people, but the differences are insignificant as to the strategy of evangelism. The biggest difference is found in the Romanians from the former Soviet Republic of Moldova because of the vast influence of Russian language and culture on the people in the last 50 years.

F. Past Challenges - Because of the strong Eastern Orthodox influence in Eastern Europe, Romanians were very hard to reach. However in the last 20 years, the evangelicals in Romania have grown and with it the influence on the people at large. The Lord is doing a great work in Romania and throughout the Romanian Diaspora. Many churches are established and the churches are growing.

G. Past Immigration Patterns - A gradual immigration of Romanians began in 1880 and increased at the turn of the twentieth century, totaling 100,000 by the beginning of World War I. The majority of immigrants came from Transylvania, Banat, and Bucovina, territories under Austro-Hungarian rule. Political, ethnic and religious persecution, combined with precarious social and economic conditions, forced Romanians to leave their homes in search of relief in the New World. Spread throughout the continent, the highest concentrations of people settled in New York, New Jersey, and midwestern cities, where the immigrants found employment in factories, mines, and railroads. Approximately 10,000 Romanian immigrants arrived between 1948 and 1953 as a result of the "Displaced Persons Act" and settled in the same areas as the first immigrants. The third wave, consisting mainly of political refugees, arrived after the signing of the Helsinki Agreement in 1974 and settled in cities of the West, Southwest and South. December 1989 marked the end of the Communist dictatorship in Romania and the beginning of freedom for the people. Uncertain of what the future might bring, many Romanians emigrated throughout the world, with a large number arriving in North America. In the last few years, many young Romanian professionals have found employment in North America, with many others arriving to reunite with their families.

II. Current/Future Challenges

A. Population - The 2000 United States Census lists 367,310 persons of Romanian ancestry. Over 53% of foreign born Romanian-Americans entered the United States between 1980 and 1990, the highest proportion among all European-American ethnic groups.   They reside in every state of the union and are the twentieth-largest of the 71 European ethnic groups recognized in America. It is estimated that today, there are about one million Romanian people in the United States and Canada.
B. Present Immigration Patterns - Since the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, many Romanians have immigrated to the United States and Canada. This presents us with a new challenge to evangelize and establish new churches.

C. Evangelism - Personal evangelism is the best method in reaching out to Romanians. Friendship evangelism and Christian literature distribution is a method that works in this community.

D. Church Planting - There is a growing momentum in church planting among the Romanians of North America. Most state conventions with a sizable Romanian community have at least one Romanian Baptist church. The vision is to have at least one Romanian Baptist church in every metropolitan area with a community of five hundred Romanians.


E. Family Life

1. Education - Most Romanian immigrants are well educated and well read. Professionals such as engineers and medical doctors can be found in all Romanian communities of North America.
2. Occupation - There is a growing number of professionals with Romanian ancestry. The younger families value education and many young people are in colleges and universities throughout North America.

III. Resources

A. Materials - Non-published, individual research done by Mark Hobafcovich.
B. References – “Romanian Americans” by Mark Hobafcovich, Profiles of People

Groups in North America

For additional information about the Romanian Southern Baptist Church Planting Ministry, contact Russell Begaye, Multiethnic Church Planting Manager, rbegaye@namb.net, or Mark Hobafcovich, Office of European Ministries Director, (615) 794-1215; mhobafcovich@namb.net