July 3, 2015

World Church Welcomes Back Hungarian Splinter Group

By Norel Iacob, Adventist Review / ANN

An inspiring moment unfolded on the stage of the General Conference session on Thursday when Raafat Kamal, president of Trans-European Division, told of a historical reconciliation between the Hungarian Adventist Church and the Christian Advent Community, a breakaway group also known as KERAK.

“It is unbelievable that it could happen,” KERAK president János Cserbik said in an interview. “My first emotion on the platform was: a dream fulfilled.”

The KERAK constitution always stipulated that the movement’s members would return to the church one day, he said.

That day came after 40 years of separation when he and Tamás Ócsai, president of the Hungarian Union Conference, signed a document titled “Joint Declaration on Settling the Past and Building a Common Future” on April 23. The church split in the Soviet era over differences, mainly on how closely the church could be linked to the state.

“Adventist Church in Hungary Reconciles With Breakaway Group After 40 Years”

“If you see them, embrace them and pray with them,” Kamal urged session attendees, referring to the architects of the achievement standing with him on the platform, including Cserbik, Ócsai, and KERAK secretary Zoltan Bodolai. “God gave them courage . . . to put behind the pain, the challenges.”

The challenges were significant, Kamal said, noting that union presidents, division presidents, and General Conference presidents had failed to reach this point. But the issue is not completely resolved even now. About 400 of KEREK’s 1,600 members don’t wish to return to the Adventist Church. Married couples have split over the issue, Cserbik said.

KERAK will continue to exist for a while to take care of these hurting members, he said.

For this reason, Cserbik said his second emotion on the platform was best expressed by the question, “What if it goes wrong?” Together with the joy of reuniting with the church, he said he feels the burden of the hesitating members.

Bodolai, the KERAK secretary, said he felt relieved.

“Big fights are behind us,” he said. “The church welcomed us [today] with open arms, and we find new brothers and sisters every day. I am grateful to God because He made this healing process possible.”

Adventist and KERAK leaders met almost weekly over the past year and came to an understanding that the most important form of unity is spiritual unity, Ócsai said.

General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson underscored the importance of spiritual unity when he prayed for the Hungarian church at the end of Kamal’s report.

“May the reconciliation in Hungary be seen all over the world,” he said.

Bio: Norel Iacob is editor of
Signs of the Times, Romania.