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Synodal Archives of the Reformed Church of Hungary

From the 17th century onward the Protestant estates assembled for the Hungarian and Transylvanian Diets often held separate meetings and called them “convents”. However, the Act XXXI of 1715 forbade the church meetings held without royal permission and the Protestants were prohibited from submitting their religious grievances as well. From that time onwards the church leaders usually met on the occasion of grape harvests on Tokaj-Hegyalja or college exams. Although they did not have a common executive body, the Reformed and the Evangelical Churches appointed government recognized agents at the Hungarian Court Chancellery in Vienna and at the Council of Governor-General in Pozsony (Bratislava), later in Buda. When the Protestants had opportunity to hold meetings again, at the 1791 Synod of Buda they decided to establish a common consistory and a general superintendent’s office but these were not assented by the monarch. The 1821/1822 General Convent (in Pest and Debrecen) was convened by a royal decree to arrange a few disputed issues. The 1867 Compromise led to changes. At the Synod of Debrecen in November 1881 the Hungarian Protestants formed a unified national church, which included Transylvania as well. The main principles of the church constitution were laid out and the General Convent was established as the supreme governing body of the Reformed Church. The 1904 synod passed a resolution to build the seat of the General Convent. The building, which was designed by architects Alfréd Hajós and János Villányi, was completed by 1909 in Budapest, adjacent to the City Park, at 21 Abonyi Street. The 1964 Synod of Debrecen renamed the General Convent as Synodal Office.

The establishing of the Convent Archives was decided by the 1821/1822 General Convent. They wanted to place the archives at the Pest congregation with the aim of collecting the material of the earlier convents and the documents of the agents. In the beginning the archival material was preserved by Danubian Bishop Pál Török. In 1858 he took over the records of the agents from Dániel Porkoláb, earlier agent but in the end these documents were taken in by the Archives of the Danubian Church District instead of the Convent Archives, in spite of the resolutions. After the death of Bishop Pál Török, in 1884 the Convent entrusted his successor, Károly Szász with the management of the archives. When in 1909 the central premises of the Convent were completed, the records from the Danubian Reformed Church District were transferred there, with the exception of the material of the agents, because that was disputed. In order to settle the issue a joint committee was established consisting members of the Convent and the Church District but its work dragged on, then owing to the war the case was forgotten. During the Second World War an air-raid shelter was prepared on the premises of the Convent; even so the records kept there were disarranged and some of them destroyed. Since the archive outgrew its room on the premises, in 1951 it moved from Apponyi Street to 8 Kálvin Square, into the nationalized building of the prohibited Soli Deo Gloria Reformed Student Organization, which strangely enough was hired by the Church. Thus the archives were separated from the Convent Archives under the name of "Archives of the Hungarian General Reformed Convent". Tamás Esze, archive clerk was appointed as head of the archives but from the beginning he worked together with Lajos Ivanyos, who was archivist at the Convent between 1954 and 1971, and later became head of the archives. During this period the archives significantly increased. Ivanyos took over the records regarding the Convent from the Archives of the Danubian Church District. He collected the surviving documents of the Reformed alliances and associations (Filadelfia Deaconess Association, Young Men’s Christian Association, Soli Deo Gloria Reformed Student Organization, Hungarian Calvin Association, etc.) and the inner and foreign mission institutions (Hungarian Evangelical Foreign Mission, Save the Alcoholic Mission, etc.). Also, on the instruction of church authorities he took over the inheritance of several Reformed public figures (Prime Minister István Tisza, Foreign Minister István Burián, etc.) from the Ráday Archives. In 1964, when the General Convent was ceased, the archives were re-named as “Central Archives of the Reformed Church of Hungary”. In 1970 another resolution of the presidency of the Synod changed the name of the archives into “Synodal Archives of the Reformed Church of Hungary”. In 1987 Erzsébet Horváth was appointed as head of the archives. At this time the microfilming of the most used synodal and convent records and the computer-processing of the archival aids started. In 1998/1999 the storerooms, the equipment of the offices and the research rooms were renovated and in 2004 the archives were increased by a new storeroom.

 

 

Further information:

Address: 1091 Budapest, Kálvin tér 8.

Phone: (1)217-6478, (1)476-0818, (1) 476-0819

E-mail: leveltar@mrezslev.t-online.hu