Short history of the Hungarian Baptist Church

The Hungarian Baptist mission after the previous anabaptist presence- was started by Oncken Johann Gerhard who was, one of the most decisive persons in the Europion Baptist Mission. carpenters working in Hamburg the faith and were baptized, into the church. After discussions, Janos Rottmayer and his friends were sent back to Hungary with the expressed purpose of spreading the gospel that they found and accepted. Rottmayer and his friends arrived in Hungary on May 20, 1846 – Their homecoming date was a milestone in the history of the newlyfounded Hungarian Baptist mission. However only after 1873 was there a significant growth, when Henrik Meyer came to Hungary. Meyer worked in the whole country, but first of all among the german speaking people. the of minister the by approved be must rules also are inthemselves which creed specific a to pretaining regulations that, stated law, XLIII 1895, due unsuccessful, proved attempts his However freedoms. religious guarantee for measures take began Meyer Henrik 1882 in denominotions other as well authorities persecution repetitive the, Because churches. german from separated baptists speaking hungarian leaders first become would Csopják(1865-1934) Attila with along and Hamburg, Seminary Baptist back came (1863-1919) Balogh Lajos 1865-19459 Udvarnoki András turning remarkable ministry baptist 1894, In congregations. During this time among the hungarian speaking people, Mihály Kornya and Mihály Tóth arose as the pioneers of the hungarian baptist mission. Being simple ’countryfolk’ their work was most successful in eastern Hungary and Transylvania among the peasant population. By the end of the century the number of the baptists was 5000, and after the First World War increased to 25.000 with a thousand congregations. In 1894, the hungarian baptist ministry came to a remarkable turning point. András Udvarnoki( 1865-19459 and Lajos Balogh (1863-1919) came back from the Baptist Seminary of Hamburg, and along with Attila Csopják(1865-1934) would become the first leaders of a hungarian speaking baptists separated from the german churches. Because of the, repetitive persecution by authorities as well as other denominotions in 1882 Henrik Meyer began to take measures for the guarantee religious freedoms. However his attempts proved unsuccessful, due to the 1895, XLIII law, which stated that, „all regulations pretaining to a specific creed which inthemselves are also rules must be approved by the minister of education.” Due to this law, in 1905 two purposed documents were drawn up and accepted by the minsiter. Already in 1895, two periodicals were started, Békehirnök (Herald of Peace) and Igazság Tanúja (Witness of Truth.) In 1905 the first hymnal was printed, A Hit Hangjai (Voices of Faith) and in 1913 followed . In 1910 a fellowship home was built in Hajdúböszörmény, and in 1910, Udvarnoki András and contributors founded the Baptist Theological Seminary in Budapest. Since then, the Seminary has released hundreds of pastors in to the missionary field with the purpose of „ giving true faithful, devout, humble, but intellectualy prepared pastors to the sheep of Christ.” In 1914, the Baptist Orphanage was built which functioned for forty years, providing a temporary a home for many children from all denominations. With the First World War the flowering missionary status came to a hault, due specificly to the Treaty of Trianon which reduced the land region of Hungary by two thirds, as well as the number of baptists, leaving only 7 500. In the 1920’s the missionary work was blooming again. Growth of churches was primarely in the north and northeastern part of Hungary. The number of baptists in the country doubled. The congregational leadership began to change whit the coming of a new generation. One of the most significant persons was Dr. Somogyi Imre who accepted Christ in 1921, while serving a prision sentence in Szeged, for his radical political behaviour. After studies in seminaries in the country and abroad he was voted the Hungarian Baptist Churches president in 1933. His deep faith and wide acceptance helped to secure an authoritiative presence for the Baptists Congregation in Hungary.

After the Second World War baptists in Hungary was close to 15 000. The communist ideology and the stateideology had a negative effect on our churches, as well as urbanization resulting in the loss of many rural churches.
By 1989, our congregation lost one-third of its members.

Hungary enjoys political freedom since 1989, when the communist rule broke up. It shifted toward multiparty democracy and market-oriented economy. The first freely elected government stabilized the political and economical situation. Hungary joined the NATO in 1999 and will be a member of the European Union this year. It continues to demonstrate strong economical growth, although the economy experiences some difficulties.

About the third of all Hungarians live in surrounding countries: in Romania, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Ukraine. Since a revolt in 1956 resulted in a military intervention by the Russian government, many fled to the United States and Canada and other countries. The main minorities in Hungary include Romas (Gypsy), Ruthenians, Germans, Jews, Romanians, Slovaks. Strict controls were enforced on all Christians during the Communist era. There has been freedom of religion since 1990. Though we celebrated the 1000th anniversary of Hungary’s conversoin to Christianity, the churches continues to struggle with difficulties and try to find new ways to the nation.

According to the latest census, about 17,000 said to be related in some way to the Baptist Union. It is interesting that about two thirds of the population of the country confessed to be a member of some church, but only about 10% of it goes to church. The Baptist community is quite diverse in Hungary. We have different types of liturgy in the churches, there is difference in how we sing, etc., but we want to maintain a strong unity in keeping the Biblical principles. We accept the values that can be found in our churches. The world tempts us continuously, meaning that a balance needs to be aimed at in our attitude towards things that effects us.

Some churches try to find and keep the traditional Baptist identity, some of them would like to open a wide gate towards wordly influences, hoping that more people will come to Christ. Obviously, both of the above mentioned attitudes have values and dangers at the same time. It is our joy to see that many of our churches were able to handle these spiritual challanges in a Biblical manner. However, letting the wordly thinking influence that of our church members’ seems to be the biggest problem. Negative tendencies, moral attitudes that are not derived from the teaching of our Savior find a way to our churches at times, resulting in conflicts and sins in families, marriages and communities. We want to continue to fight these tendencies, fulfilling the command of the Word of God to live a holy life

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