Baptists in Europe
Baptist and Reflector
E. E. Folk, D.D., Editor.
The Literary Digest quotes the Episcopal Recorder of Philadelphia as saying that:"Throughout the whole of Eastern Europe an evangelical revival is in progress under the ministry of the Baptist churches, which bids fair to change the religious aspect of the East, This demonstration shows that the failure of Protestantism, of which we have heard so much recently, turns out to be no failure at all where it is properly applied. Another fact thus emphasized, we are told, is that the first impulse arising from evangelical Christianity is a flaming evangelism, in which the saved man - preacher and layman - takes a most active part."The following facts are given by the Episcopal Recorder:"ln Russia, the Baptists are doing a splendid
work. Hitherto the churches have been divided into eight unions, according to nationality. One of the problems presented by the work has been the large number of nationalities concerned, as, for example, the German-speaking Baptists have comprised Letts, Lithuanians and Esthonians. This union alone comprises 147 churches, with 468 preaching stations, and represents a membership of over 26,000, which has been increased by nearly 2,000 during the past year. The Russian Baptist Union comprises 149 churches, with over 10,000 members and an addition of 2,000. In the south of Russia, the churches are springing up by scores. An effort is now being made to consolidate all these unions into one great union for the whole empire. This effort may not prove successful, for the toleration of the government does not go quite as far as that, and in Russia one has to watch every step."The edict of toleration has had a similar effect in Russian Poland, where since it was promulgated in 1905 fifty-nine churches have come into existence. Further facts are given by the Episcopal Recorder:"Some of them are very large; that at Lodz having 1,559 members, and that at Lucinow 848. These two churches alone report an increase for the past year of 199. When it is remembered that these figures represent the
addition of adults on confession of faith, the growth of the work is seen to be remarkable. Full figures can not be readily obtained, but it is believed by those who have studied the matter that when they are available, it will be found that the Baptists of Eastern Europe are second in numbers only to the churches in our own country.
"But it is not in the various parts of the Russian empire alone that this work is growing. Other parts of Eastern Europe have the same glad tidings. Hungary, the scene of the Los Von Rom movement, is being swept by this evangelical revival. Last year shows an increase of 12 churches, 100 preaching stations, and 4,000 members. Some of the churches have stirring tales to tell. The church at Bekessaba, formed three, years ago, has 250 members; while that at Homorod, not a year old, has 100 members, and has launched out, supplying 20 preaching stations. The church at Budapest has 839 members, with an increase of over 200, and 27 preaching stations.
"A similar work is going on in Roumania. Remarkable vitality is manifested in every direction. One evangelist last August baptized 280 converts, and during the twenty years of his ministry has baptized over 6,000 persons. Churches with memberships running into the hundreds are happily not few. At Prague and
Brunn, splendid work is being done among the Czechs and the Carpathian mountaineers, while the professional classes in these centers are being reached. Efforts are being made to establish without delay a Baptist college, where pastors and workers for Eussia and Southern Europe can be trained, in the hope of keeping pace with the demands of this work."
BAPTIST TIMES AND FREEMAN.
The following facts taken from an article in the Baptist Times and Freeman by Rev. Charles T. Byford will also be found very interesting reading in this connection:"In a recent issue of one of the leading daily papers published at St. Petersburg, the writer refers to the Baptist movement in the kingdom of the Czar in the following terms: 'This great Baptist movement makes for the reformation of Russia. It began with the lower classes, and is now reaching the wealthy and intellectual. These two waves must meet. The government must be careful how they deal with the movement; it must not be hindered, but helped. These Baptists are awakening the best powers of the country - and in their progress is to be found the true salvation of Russia.' At present there are three companies of Baptists in Russia. The largest, founded by, and largely controlled by, the German Bund,
whose Handbook is the Union's Statistik for Russia, printed in Riga. The second the 'Evangelical Christians' (Free Baptists), led by Ivan Prokhanoff, of St. Petersburg; and the third 'The Russian Baptist Union,' of which Rev. E. Galieff, of Barastov, is the President. In the Union's Statistik of the Baptist churches in Russia, the earliest date given for the foundation of a Baptist church is 1860, and in the recently published Russian Baptist Union Handbook the earliest date is 1864, the former being a Lettish church, founded by German missionaries, and the latter a purely Russian work. The origin of the Evangelical Christians is of more recent times than either of the former.
"In the eight associations included in the German or Union's Statistik Handbook there are 147 churches and 468 stations, with a total membership of 26,126, and 1,609 baptisms for the year.
"In the newly-formed Russian Union there are 149 churches, with a membership of 10,935 and 1,839 baptisms for the year. These figures do not include the churches not in membership with either Union or the numbers in the Evangelical Christians (Free Baptists), who far outnumber the latter body (Russian Baptist Union), especially in St. Petersburg and the south of the empire.
"The church in Boresov was founded in 1905, and has 142 members, 71 being baptized last year. In Rostoff, where there is a membership of 312, 116 baptisms are recorded. St. Petersburg Church, of which Mr. Fetler is the minister, records a membership of 200, with 84 baptisms.
"Turning to Poland, we find the church at Lodz with a membership of 1,559, recording a net increase for the year of 98, and the church at Lucinow with 848 members, showing 101 baptisms as a result of the year's work. Since the edict of toleration, granted to Protestant dissenters in 1905, there have been founded 59 churches, with a total membership of 3,430. Again, we have not been able to tabulate the greater growths of the Evangelical Christians.
AMONGST THE CZECHS.
"The brethren Novotny junior and Capek, of Prague and Brunn respectively, are working amongst the Czechs in Bohemia and Moravia, and although the work in the latter town was only started in 1904, already in the mother church there are more than 150 members, and a ring of stations in the country. Brother Capek is gaining ground amongst the professional classes in his country, whilst Novotny is a welcome evangelist amongst the mountaineers in the Carpathians. The time is already
ripe, despite the restrictive laws of Austria, for a great forward movement. Men are being trained for this service, and others are already competent to go forth; and, in the near future, if we but seize the opportunity, these two Czechish countries can be evangelized.
IN THE LAND OF THE MAGYAR.
"Notwithstanding the rapid advance in Russia and amongst the Czechs, Baptists are making the greatest headway in Hungary actually, and in proportion to the population more so. Returns just arriving from the land of Kossuth show that progress is being made amongst all the diverse races of the buffer state between the Teuton and the Turk.
"The forthcoming Handbook will show a net increase in Hungary of more than 4,000 members, 12 churches, and over 100 new stations.
"Some of the recently formed churches are showing remarkable activity. Thus the church at Bekescaba, formed in 1907, has 250 members, and Dahi, formed in 1908, has a roll of 212; and Homorod-Szent-Marton, formed in August, 1909, returns 160 members and 20 preaching stations opened.
"The Budapest second church, under the efficient and saintly ministry of Andreas Udvarnoki, has had a year of blessing, and with a membership of 839, shows a net increase of
218. When one considers the tremendous work of our brother in the preachers' school and his 27 stations, such an increase is most gratifying.
THE ROUMANIAN HOSTS.
"We have already recorded the 280 baptisms by Mihaly Kornya during August last, bringing that veteran's total of baptisms to 6,100 during his twenty years' ministry, but Kurtics, with a membership of 950, has had 124 baptisms, and Talpas, 78 baptisms, with a membership of 840. Between them these two churches have 47 stations.
"The number of stations reveal at once the strength and weakness of the Baptist movement in all these countries. One man cannot efficiently supervise all this work and build up the churches. Many of these stations have more than 100 members, and are willing to support a minister and open up fresh territory, and in the present stage of development the pastors can only be trained and supported, mainly during their period of study, by outside help. That help the Baptist World Alliance is willing to give, just as soon as the Lord's stewards in this and other lands realize the great opportunity of the present decade, and the joy and delight in taking some part, however small, in this forward movement.
"'Europe for Christ' is our watchword, and we long and pray for the ideal to become the real."We have been telling you for some time that the world is coming to the Baptists, and it seems to be coming pretty rapidly. For the first time in a good many centuries the European world is now sitting up and taking notice of the Baptists. When such papers as the Literary Digest, the Episcopal Recorder and a leading daily paper of St. Petersburg, Russia, take notice of the Baptist movement it means something, yea, it means much. The world is coming to the Baptists. It is bound to come. The world is needing and calling for such principles as those of individualism.
[From The Baptist Message, SSB/SBC, 1911, pp. 118-126. This book was provided by Steve Lecrone, Burton, OH. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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