Pentecostals in Hungary

An exciting book about the history of the pentecostal movement in Hungary, its international and national background and the Hungarian Pentecostal Church.

300 pages

15 authors

Current and former church leaders, elders, journalists and scholars.

paperback & ebook

212 photos

Find rare, decades old photos about the Hungarian Pentecostal Movement.

International history

From the 18th century to the 1910s

Historical roots, revival, and development

The Pentecostal message has come to every continent and country. By now it has reached the whole world and had an influence on the lives of hundreds of millions. The Pentecostal movement is based on the promise given by Jesus before his ascension and on the fulfilment of that promise. Accordingly, his disciples receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they will be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

All this was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). The first Christians were endowed with divine power, so they could fulfil the Great Commission with courage and authority, accompanied by supernatural signs and wonders (Mt 28:18-20).

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What was special about the Azusa Street meetings?

First, there were meetings in Azusa Street on every day of the week. Undoubtedly, the Sunday meeting had the highest attendance, but on other days of the week too, hundreds attended each service, which started at 10 o’clock in the morning, at 3 in the afternoon, and at 8 in the evening. “There are meetings every day, and there are seekers at every service” – noted someone.

Secondly, according to the report of the person quoted above – in Azusa Street “the three meetings tend to flow into one”. Despite the published order of service, the meetings in the Mission often ran into one another, so much so that even at night they did not necessarily take a break. One could also say that the meetings merged together into one single, extended service lasting the whole three years of the revival. When they came into the Lord’s presence, the people simply lost their sense of time.

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William Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival

From the revival starting with the ministry of Seymour, the 20th century Pentecostal movement was set loose. The history of all 20th century Pentecostal believers may also be traced back to the onetime stable building in a Los Angeles ghetto. At least twenty five denominations derive their Pentecostal teachings from Azusa Street.

No other revival has involved similar consequences, crossing racial and denominational barriers. Furthermore, not only were the various nationalities living in North America touched by the revival, but the peoples of more than 52 other countries also responded to the Holy Spirit’s call.

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Read the complete international background

Order the book now and read about the international background of the Pentecostal Movement. You can read about Charles Parham, Phoebe Palmer, Thomas Ball Barratt and the Azusa street revival.

History in Hungary

The beginnings (1920-1947)

Mission history of the early years of the Pentecostal Movement in Hungary

In the Horthy Era, the free churches were typically treated with suspicion: a threat to the state and society, and, therefore, as an undesirable factor. Matters in connection with them thus came under the authority of the police. Despite the hostile atmosphere, the free church fellowships grew stronger – the Baptists in the city, the Adventists by means of the social gospel, the Methodists by means of their foreign support.

There was also a kind of flow which started up between the fellowships: a significant group of the Nazarenes joined the Adventists, and the Baptists lost many members due to the incipient Pentecostalism.

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Organisational history of the Pentecostal Movement in Hungary

The Pentecostal Movement in Hungary was built from two directions during the early years of its formation. On the one hand, some of the soldiers returning home from Russian captivity after World War I had met fellow prisoners of other nationalities who had been baptised in the Holy Spirit. As a result of their example, their testimony, and their prayers, some of the Hungarians also accepted the teaching on the baptism in the Holy Spirit and even started to pray in tongues themselves.

On the other hand, much more significant than this was the influence of Hungarians returning from the USA. They had emigrated to America at the beginning of the century for economic reasons, and they had tasted the Pentecostal experience.

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From World War II till the change of regime (1940–1989)

On June 9, 1977, Paul VI. granted an audience in Italy with János Kádár (the leader of the Hungarian Communist Party).

The churches between 1944 and 1956, and between 1956 and 1989

Hungary having come under Soviet occupation, the situation of the churches changed dramatically. A declared goal of the solidified communist dictatorship was to eliminate religion and the churches. At first the churches attempted to defend themselves, they resisted, then gradually switched to passive resistance, but later they largely collaborated with the communist authority. However, a long road led them thus far.

The state church policy (at least towards the Catholic Church) changed in 1964. From the second half of the 1960s, the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (MSZMP) no longer treated the churches as an enemy; in exchange, the churches contributed to the comfort of the masses in that even a religious man could get along in a socialist society. The Kádár church policy became pragmatic: “As long as the church exists, it must be utilised,” was the new axiom.

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Missions history of the Evangelical Pentecostal Fellowship (1962–1989)

In the Kádár era, the intention to cripple churches still persisted, but there was a softening compared with the methods of the Rákosi period.1 The free churches continued to become more like ecclesiastical institutions, whilst the church leaders tried to ensure the freedom of religious life within a legal framework. In addition to collaboration with the state, missions opportunities gradually expanded in the areas of the publication of church literature, foreign contacts, and youth work.

The two main Pentecostal streams united in 1962. In the congregations, the improvement of peaceful brotherly collaboration was the goal. As regards practices, extreme manifestations were not endorsed in the united fellowship; prophesying was confined within a controllable framework, and noisy prayer and tussling in public was discontinued.

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Mixed choral group under the direction of István Városi, in Kecel, 1946

Possibilities and methods for Pentecostal missions (1940–1989)

The Pentecostal believers were convinced that they had an obligation to preach the gospel; and throughout the period, despite the prohibitions, they found the means of doing so in conversations with friends, or at work, and by showing personal example. In the ’40s, it was still possible to witness publicly and to invite enquirers to church.

The government did not support religious training of children and young people, so Sunday school classes were banned. Pentecostals then organised Bible study groups for children.5The congregations were made up of large families for the most part, with at least 6-8 children, who regularly attended the services.

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The history of missions of the Pentecostal Movement

The years following World War II meant liberation for the free churches; they could pursue their missions activities, they could gather freely for the purpose of holding services, and they could publish and distribute their literary materials.

The 1950s were typified by reflection and adaption to the changed circumstances. State regulation did not leave much latitude for the previously active congregational work. From the end of the ’40s, increasing pressure was put on the Pentecostal assemblies to modify their worship practices. The party resolution of July 1951 restricted the number of meeting houses, and from then on, pastors could only operate with a licence and in a fixed location. The believers and enquirers could not assemble except in meeting houses, the literary materials were subjected to state censorship – pioneering missions thus became impossible.

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The Central Council of the Evangelical Pentecostal Fellowship on October 24, 1975.

The organisational history of the Pentecostals of Hungary (1951–1990)

The rapprochement of the various Pentecostal groups began in the Béke Theatre in August of 1947. Then in 1949, they were united in an organisation with the name Evangéliumi Keresztyének [Evangelical Christians]. The unity had ceased by 1951, however, and a number of Pentecostal denominations were formed once again. The period of fragmentation came to an end when in 1962, the two largest Pentecostal fellowships, the Evangéliumi Keresztyének and the Evangéliumi Pünkösdi Egyház [Evangelical Pentecostal Church] merged together.

The denomination thus formed represented the Pentecostal movement in this country for four decades under the name Evangéliumi Pünkösdi Közösség [Evangelical Pentecostal Fellowship].

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From the political changes till the present day (1989-2017)

Children’s camp group picture in Kadarkút in 2013

Missions history of the Pentecostal movement (1989–2017)

The political changes of 1989 and the period following them was a time of transition in the denominational structure and of challenges due to the sudden opening of missions opportunities. The new generation of preachers urged for a looser, freer, and more democratic denominational arrangement. In the wake of this, many new initiatives were launched. These were typified by stepping out: street productions not in the meeting-house environment.

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The founders of the Hungarian Evangelical-Pentecostal World Alliance (MEPVISZ) in 2009.

Organisational history of the Pentecostals (1989–2017)

The Organisational Policy Revision Committee, which had been elected in the previous year, produced a proposal for the Reporting General Meeting of 1990. At the General Meeting, however, some thought that there were too many changes planned, others too few. Many critical comments were heard about the draft.

The committee handed back its commission to the General Meeting, which – under the leadership of Imre Pintér jr. – called upon a new committee to frame a totally new charter. The draft was completed for the Extraordinary National General Meeting of October 22-23, 1990, which – following certain modifications with the approval of the General Meeting – was enacted on the first of January 1990. A further contributing factor to this was that law IV of 1990 was passed on the free practice of religion, which guaranteed the churches full independence and freedom.

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Read the complete summary of the church's history

Get the book now and read about the Hungarian Pentecostal Movement’s history. You will know the details of the growth and hardships of the communist era, and the events of the near past.

Hungarian Pentecostal Church

Characteristic teachings, practice and attitude.

From 2004 until the end of the decade, theological forums were held in the Pentecostal Theological College.

Characteristic teachings of the Pentecostals

From the very beginning, the Pentecostal Movement was not defined fundamentally by an enquiry into theological truths, but much more by practical piety, i.e. the experience of a personal encounter with God in Jesus Christ, which is accompanied by manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit. So no particular efforts were made to create a coherent, unified, systematised dogma which was characteristic of every Pentecostal congregation and denomination throughout the world.

Furthermore, the great majority of those joining the Pentecostal Movement had previously belonged to some already existing Christian denomination in the western world, either actively or nominally. This background more or less established a great variety of multicoloured dogmatic thinking, or, as it may seem to members of denominations that see their identity more in terms of dogmatics – chaos. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, it can be said that the Pentecostal congregations and denominations agree with other Protestant branches of Christianity on most of the fundamental doctrines.

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Baptism in Méhkerék in 1984. Baptisms performed by János Makovei.

Typical attitude and practice of faith

Most of the distinctive practices of the Pentecostal Movement spring from the Evangelical and Holiness Movements. These features were given a particular content and took on a form of appearance which was accompanied by intensive emotions. The believers longed for the operation of the Holy Spirit accompanied by signs and wonders. For this reason, the movement is easier to describe by its typical forms of conduct and its practices linked with its worship services than by its characteristic creeds or dogmatic tenets.

The Hungarian Pentecostal Movement more or less bears the typical features of the worldwide revival. Therefore, the general, historical attitudes and practices of faith of Pentecostal spirituality are presented as the best way to understand the most significant Christian renewal movement of the 20th century.

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Pünkösdi Történelem – rendelési űrlap
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