Church Reconciliation in Hungary Celebrated at San Antonio World Session
Delegates to the world church session meeting in San Antonio, Texas, July 2, welcomed a delegation of leaders of a breakaway group of Seventh-day Adventists in Hungary, a group of believers separated from the main body of the church for 40 years.
Rajmund Dabrowski, with reporting from the Adventist Review
Raafat Kamal, president of the Trans-European Division presented a delegation to the world body and said that “God blessed the process” to bring the believers in Hungary together. Kamal invited the delegates to “embrace these brothers and sisters here.”
The Hungarian church split in 1975 amid a protest by several pastors and laity over local church leaders’ collaboration with the Council of Free Churches, a body established by a state under communist government to represent the common interests of small Hungarian Protestant denominations.
On April 23, Tamás Ócsai, president of the Hungarian Union Conference, signed a document titled “Joint Declaration on Settling the Past and Building a Common Future” with János Cserbik, leader of KERAK, as the splinter group is known. The Adventist Church in Hungary has 4,629 members worshiping in 104 churches, while KERAK has perhaps as many as 1,800 members, according to local church leaders.
Since signing of the joint reconciliation document, perhaps as many as 600 members rejoined the church and others are anticipated to follow.
Over the four decades multiple attempts to reconcile the differences have been attempted with a most recent involvement of the world and division church leaders participating in the process.
Following the signing ceremony, Benjamin D. Schoun, a general vice president of the Adventist world church, who played a key role in bringing the two sides toward reconciliation commented that this historic moment “is a testimony to the use of biblical methods for reconciliation and the willingness on the part of both sides to step out toward each other.”
Commenting on the developments, which culminated in the April declaration, Raafat Kamal, president of the Trans-European Division, said “I praise God for His grace in bringing both communities to the foot of the cross where Christ-like forgiveness, healing, and love have taken over minds and hearts.”
“Over the past two years I personally witnessed first-hand genuine expressions of reconciliation by members and leaders alike,” he also added. [Rajmund Dabrowski, with reporting from the Adventist Review]