The History of the Hungarian Unitarian Church

1565. The beginning of the Unitarian Reformation.

Dávid Ferenc's biblical and humanistic view came early into conflict with the dogmatism of the Swiss reformation. Opposing Calvin, he considered religious reformation as an eternal principle and its particular directions as evolutionary stages. He saw that God's will progressed step by step in reforming religion and reaching the entire (full) truth. The continuation of the reformation was a prophetic mission in his conception which he had to carry out for the love of God, Jesus and his Church. "Whom God enlightened by His Spirit must not be silent and must not hide the truth."

Based on the Bible and reason, Dávid Ferenc continued the reformation of the percepts of Christianity. He only kept those which proved the originate from the Bible and were conceivable by reason. In his searching he rejected the Dogma of the Trinity as a human creation and started preaching the concept of one God based on Jesus' teachings. This is how the principle of God's unity became the central idea of his reformation.

1566. January 20. Dávid Ferenc gave his first Unitarian oration (sermon) in the main church of Kolozsvár.

1568. January 6-13. The Diet of Torda proclaimed freedom of religion and of conscience as follows:

"Our Royal Majesty, as he had decided at the previous debates within his country about matters of religion, confirms as well at the present Diet that every orator shall preach the gospel by his own (personal) conception, at any place if that community is willing to accept him, or if it isn't, no one should force him just because their soul is not satisfied with him; but a community can keep such a preacher whose teachings are delightful. And no one, neither superintendents nor others, may hurt a preacher by this or by the previous constitutions; no one may be blamed because of their religion. No one is allowed to threaten others with prison or divest anyone of their office because of their profession: because faith is God's gift born from hearing and this hearing is conceived by the word of God."

This decision being unparalleled in contemporary Europe, constituted state recognition of Unitarianism and foundation of the Unitarian Church.

The new received religion hadn't an accepted name at its beginning. David Ferenc and his associates signed their publications: "The Transylvanian ecclesia of one accord." The Unitarians preferred using the name of "Christian"; David Ferenc referred to himself as "the servant of the crucified Jesus Christ."

1579. November. Karádi Pál, Unitarian minister from Temesvár wrote a letter to the ministers of Kolozsvár about his commitment to Dávid Ferenc's teachings. He also marked Blandrata György, Hunyadi Demeter and his party who promoted Dávid Ferenc's condemnation as traitors. He separated from the Transylvanian Church, along with the lowland and Banat congregations. The bishop of the detached congregations became Karádi Pál. This teritory was the east part of Hungary.

After the death of King John Sigismund in 1571 the opression of the unitarians was so strong that the unitarian congregations could not survive in such a circumstances. Did not have yet a stong organization and under the counter reformation did lost many members. But even so they survived.

The recovery it came after 1867, when our religion was recognized by the austro-hungarian empire. At that time many unitarains from Transylvania settled in Hungary, specially in Budapest.

In 1869, Joseph Ferenc, a unitarian minister from Kolozsvar (Cluj) kept the first unitarian service in the reformed church in Budapest. In 1876 it was working a small congregation in Budapest, which in 14th august 1881 became an independent congregation. In the following years all over Hungary were organized unitarian congregations, many of them built properties and kept a ministers.

In 1882 the Budapest Church got a property from the city where they built the actual church and parsonage, and apartments in which now is working beside the Budapest Unitarian Church, the Hungarian Unitarian Headquarter, the Bishops's Office. (Nagy Ignac street nr.2-4.) .See the history of the Budapest Unitarian Church

In 1879 was established the Unitarian Church in Hodmezövásárhely, and in the following year, in 17th May 1880 was held the first unitarian service by Lajos Nagy district dean of Kolozsvar. In 1884 the congregation build a prayer house. The actual gothic-stile church was built in 1910.

In 1886 was established a congregation East of the Danube, with its center in Polgardi. There were help sunday services in Szekszard and Pecs.

In 1901 was established the Francis David Association, a cultural, religious association which goal was to spread the unitarian and free christian ideas, to promote religious and patriotic feelings, to discuss scientifical, cultural and sociological issues, and to polish music and poetry.

In 1902 was established a new congregation, from those unitarians who live in the teritory of Hungary between the Danube and Tisza rivers.

In 1902 was established an other chruch in Füzesgyarmat. In 1903 the congregation did build their own church building, and added to it in 1911 a belltower.

With the help of the British and American unitarians a big building was bought in Budapest in Rakos street, today is the Hogyes Endre street under nr.3. In this building was the minister office, a parsonage, dormitories for unitarian students and emigrants from Transylvania. Ministers of this building served as missionaries in Budapest and Hungary. This building was called the Mission House and it was Unitarian property until the communists took over. In this building today is the "Bela Bartok" Unitarian Church of Budapest, which became an independent congregation in 2001. We hope in the second rebirth of the Mission House. See the entire history.

In 1922 was established the Women Associoation and the Youth Association. In 15th June appears the "Unitárius Értesitö" (Unitarian Announcer) Magazine.

In 16th february 1936 was held by Istvan Pethö the first unitarian sunday service in the recently build church in Pestszentlörincz.

In 1938 was established the Unitarian Church in Kocsord, and in the same year the members build the church, found a bell and hired a unitarian minister.

1918. After the Trianon agreament, when Hungary was divided and a major part was added to Romania, the unitarian majority remained in Romania. In Hungary remained 6 ministers and 2 teachers. The statistics between 1921 and 1927 it show that there were unitarians between 10.600 and 11.200 members.

In 1971 could ellect for the first time the Hungarian Unitarian Church its own bishop in the person of Joseph Ferenc, and the lay president was Bela Bartok (the son).

The unitarians situation in Hungary was resolved in 1948, between the Hungarian Government and the Church, when the Church was under the control of the Hungarian Government. Until that time the unitarian bishop was in Kolozsvar and the church was led from Kolozsvar.. The Unitarian Church in Hungary was in a situation when its headquarter and the majority of the members were in Romania and the members remained in Hungary had to reorganize their life. First could not elect a bishop, the church was led by vicebishops or vicar. The first bishop was elected as I mentioned in 1971.

In 1952 there are the following churches: Budapest, Debrecen, Füzesgyarmat, Hódmezovásárhely, Kocsord, Pestlorinc. Duna-Tiszaközi, Dunántúli and Eger. Small groups of unitarians are working in Szeged, Orosháza, Miskolc and Pécs, Dévaványa and Dunapataj.

In 1992 was established the Unitarian Church in Györ. We know unitarians in this city from 1920, but the congregation was organized into a church in 1992. They bought a house for the minister parsonage and transformed a room into a sanctuary. In 1997 they established the Bölöni Farkas Sándor Foundation with the goal of building a church. Now they are raising money for their future church building. They have even a plan of this church.

Now, in 2001, the Unitarian Bishop in Hungary is Rev. Csaba Rázmány, an energic person with the idea of renewal and outreach toward unitarian and universalist sisters and brothers. He is very active in the social and religous activities to promote our unitarian existence.

There are in Budapest three unitarian churches: the Budapest Unitarian Church, the Bela Bartok Unitarian Church and the Pestszentlorinc Unitarian Church.

Other churches in Hungary: Debrecen, Györ, Füzesgyarmat, Hódmezövásárhely, Kocsord, Dunántuli, Duna-Tiszaközi.

There are 11 unitarian ministers with their families.

Back to main page

We maintain and alway upgrade, and will add more dates.

compiled by Rev.Sándor Léta