Hungary: Baptists take over sponsorship of 44 schools
B e r l i n / B u d a p e s t – Since September, Baptists in Hungary have been operating 44 schools throughout the country – from kindergarten to high school. This comes as a result of a change in the laws which now also allow churches to sponsor schools, as János Papp (Budapest), told the European Press Service, at the Council of the European Baptist Federation (EBF), September 26-29, in Elstal near Berlin. At the time, 16,100 children were supervised by over 2,000 employees. The Baptists subjected their takeover of sponsorship to certain conditions: at least two-thirds of the representatives in the city government had to agree, as well as the same percentage of school employees and the same percentage of parents. It is hoped that the sponsorship will facilitate spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, for example, through religion classes and the equipping of the school library with Christian literature. Teaching costs will continue to be paid by the state, according to Papp. It is also hoped that they will involve the Baptist churches in school operations. According to Papp’s estimate, about 10 percent of all students will come under sponsorship of churches due to the change in the laws. The Hungarian Baptist Union is made up of 368 churches with about 12,000 members.
At the meeting, the Irish Baptist Networks was received as an affiliated network of the EBF. Four Baptist churches officially belong to the organisation, while 20 more have loose connections. The Network was primarily founded in order to be able to maintain stronger international contacts. At the meeting it was said that the official Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland, which includes 116 churches in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, does not seek such contacts. Nonetheless, Tony Peck (Bristol/Prague), EBF General Secretary, expressed the hope that at some time in the future the Association might consider becoming part of the EBF. The two delegates from the Network, David McMillan and Steven Adams (both of Belfast), also expressed the hope that working with the EBF would help to strengthen relationships, to learn from one another, and to grow in trust for each other. As a welcome gift, Peck gave them a set of ceramic communion dishes made in the Czech Republic.