New Budapest building of the Baptist Union of Hungary handed over

New Budapest building of the Baptist Union of Hungary handed over

Hungarian Baptist Press Service - January 31, 2018

The handing over ceremony of the Baptist House was held in Benczúr Street, Budapest. The building was donated to the Union by the Hungarian Government for mission, educational and social ministry purposes. The anniversary of the return of the Holy Crown to Hungary was also remembered during the celebration.

Miklós Soltész, Undersecretary of State responsible for church, ethnic and social relations reminded those present in his speech at the festive handing over of the Baptist House that it was thanks to Baptists that 40 years ago, on January 6th, 1978 the Holy Crown and coronation jewels were returned to Hungary. The Undersecretary of State expressed thanks on behalf of the Hungarian government and nation to the Baptist Union for the latter’s ministry 40 years ago and also earlier, during the preceding period of persecution. The decision was made to handover this property as an expression of thanks on the part of the government and of the nation. Soltész continued that additionally, a government grant of 400 million HUF (approximately 1.5 million USD) is also given as contribution to the costs of refurbishing the building.

The Baptist contribution to the return of the crown was made by Jimmy Carter, that time President of the USA, Billy Graham, Pastors Sándor Haraszti and Mihály Almási.

János Papp, President of the Baptist Union of Hungary started his festive address by reminding everybody of the responsibility that goes with the gift. “We all know that the gift is not only joy, but also carries responsibility and the possibility of serving our brothers and sisters as well as the whole nation. We, Hungarian Baptists wish to live and minister to the benefit of our nation and of all people living around us. Our Anabaptist/Haban predecessors have also engaged in building our nation, when Gábor Bethlen gave them refuge when they had to flee and they contributed with their diligence and skills to the golden age of Transylvania. Our Baptist forebears have helped our nation when straight after gaining state recognition, they established an orphanage, homeless shelters and social institutions. Martin Luther King, the Baptist pastor who fought for the rights of coloured people, has impacted not only his own nation but also the entire world. He died the death of a martyr just 50 years ago.”

In connection with the return of the Holy Crown, he stated that following his 1977 visit to Hungary, Billy Graham intervened on behalf of the Hungarian people and for the return of the Holy Crown. President Jimmy Carter – a Baptist himself – signed the executive order about the return of the crown just three days after Billy Graham’s return to the States from Hungary. Three months later the crown actually arrived in Hungary.

János Papp concluded his remarks by saying that with this building, we Baptists wish to serve our nation.

As part of the celebration, a commemorative plaque was unveiled on the wall of the building. Kornél Mészáros, General Secretary of the Baptist Union said a prayer of thanksgiving in front of the building.

Festivities continued on the top floor of the building that has been out of use for a number of years. The following letter sent by ex-President Jimmy Carter was read out: “I am pleased to join you in recognising the 40th anniversary of the return of the crown of Saint Stephen. This marked the beginning of improved relations between our two countries and Hungary’s recveipt of the Most Favored Nation status from the US. Also, we celebrate with Baptist Aid your teaching of the Bible in public schools and your guidance of 16,000 students from kindergarten- to vocational school-age. Rosalynn joins me in sending our warm best wishes.”

Kornél Mészáros, General Secretary of the Baptist Union has traced in his address the way of Anabaptists and Baptist through history to the present day. He expressed thanks to the believers, to men of good will and to the government for their contribution to the unfolding of the ministry of the Baptists.

In the rest of the programme, some contributions were made by representatives of the mission, educational and social ministries of the Baptist Union.

Representing the American Baptists, Charles Jones, international director of American Baptist Churches stated how much they appreciate the fruitful relationship between the Hungarian Baptists and the Hungarian Government.

The new Baptist House still needs a lot of refurbishment before it becomes suitable for use.

Baptist Press Service (prepared using the news item of MTI/Hungarian News Agency)