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The Alliance Times
Herald, NE
2 Aug 1957

Dr. Lajos Ordass
 Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Hungary
Born 01 Feb 1901 in Torzsa, Batschka
[Torschau / Torza / Torzsa]
Published at DVHH.org 25 Feb 2021 by Jody McKim Pharr


"The bishop replied that his duty was to God and
 the only propaganda he could teach was the Gospel of Christ."

The Lutheran World Federation's Third Assembly will be held In Minneapolis Minn from August 15 to 25.  Mr and Mrs John Langmacher are planning to attend from St John’s United Lutheran Church.

     In subsequent plenary sessions five prominent world Lutheran theologians from the U.S., India East Germany Japan and Sweden will discuss various aspects of the Assembly theme as it applies to the church’s 20th century mission.

     Outstanding speakers on the assembly program include Dr. Rajah B Manikam, bishop of Tranquebar, India; Dr Otto Dibelius, bishop of the Church of Berlin-Branden-burg and president of the Evangelical Church in Germany; and Dr Lajos Ordass, bishop of the Lutheran Church in Hungary.

Expect Big Crowds

     Public events which are expected to attract upwards of 50,000 persons include a Festival of Hymns on Sunday, August 18; a general Festival of Music on Wednesday, August 21; a youth program with a parade through the center of the city and a special evening rally featuring Bishop Lilje as guest speaker on Saturday, August 24; and a concluding Festival Service on the grounds of the state capital in St Paul on Sunday, August 25.

     Hosts to the assembly will be the eight church bodies participating in the National Lutheran Council — United Lutheran Church in America; Evangelical Lutheran Church; American; Lutheran Church; Augustana Lutheran Church; Lutheran Free Church; United Evangelical Lutheran Church; Suomi Synod and American Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Hungarian First Speaker

     A decade ago the name of Lutheran Bishop Lajos Ordass of Hungary was almost unknown outside eastern Europe. Today it stands as a symbol of indomitable faith and personal courage for the entire Christian world.

     Reinstated last fall as head of the Hungarian Lutheran Church; he was the natural choice to preach the opening sermon at the assembly.

     Bishop Ordass has known privation. Born February 1, 1901, in Torzsa in the Batschka district (now Yugoslavia), he grew up the son of a father who taught in a Lutheran country school and planned to educate his boy for the church. Ordass had already entered the University of Budapest when World War I ended. Then the Trianon treaty drew new boundaries. His parents were in one country, he in another.

Cut Off From Family

     Cut off from any further support from home, the young student earned his livelihood the best he could, pursuing his studies in theology and Philosophy in Sopron, western Hungary, when the theological faculty was moved there.  A scholarship enabled him to go to Germany to continue his studies, almost worthless and the gangling a boy with the shock of wavy blonde hair worked in the coal mines to maintain himself.

     One way and another he kept going until he was ordained In 1924 at the age of 23. After serving as assistant pastor two years he managed a term of study at Lund in 1927 and one term at Uppsala in 1928. In Sweden he established lasting fellowship with eminent personalities In the church outside Hungary.

Named Bishop

     Elected bishop in 1945 of the largest Lutheran diocese and finally made primate of all Lutheranism in Hungary Bishop Ordass represented his church at the first assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in Sweden in 1947 and was elected vice-president.

     More than 60 per cent of Hungarian Lutheran church buildings were destroyed in World War II.  Many people lived in conditions of extreme poverty, with church activities accordingly circumscribed.  While the Lutherans in Hungary are not negligible, numbering half a million, they represent only five per cent of a population in which four centuries ago, before the counter-revolution they represented two-thirds. Lutheranism in Hungary had grown used to an often bitter struggle for survival.

Risked Danger

     It was inevitable that this man of Christian conscience should conflict With the Communists as he had with the Nazis.  In 1948 the Reds announced their intention to take over the extensive system of church schools.  Bishop Ordass was in Geneva on church business.  He said he would not make plans to oppose the Reds, but neither would he give consent. Again people begged him not to go back to almost certain imprisonment, perhaps death.  

     He returned to Budapest. A Hungarian government official harangued him. He said it was the bishops' duty to "lead the people to trust their government."  The bishop replied that his duty was to God and the only propaganda he could teach was the Gospel of Christ.

     On the night of August 24, 1948 Ordass was arrested and held 24 hours for questioning. He was given the option of resigning as bishop. He refused.  Again on September 7 he Was given 24 hours in which to resign. Again he refused and was herded off to prison.

     On the night of August 24, 1948, Ordass was arrested and held 24 hours for questioning. He was given the option of resigning as bishop. He refused.  Again on September 7 he was given 24 hours in which to resign. Again he refused and was herded off to prison.

Put in Prison

     In court Ordass maintained his innocence. The court sentenced Bishop Ordass to two years in prison and deprived him of his civil rights for five years, fining him 3,000 forint, about $225.  Released after 20 months, he went into forced retirement. Only a month before, in April, 1950 he had been deposed by the church.

     Bishop Ordass preached his first sermon In eight years on Reformation Day last October.

     His theme for the opening session of the Assembly will be “Christ Frees and' Unites”.

Last Updated: 25 Feb 2021

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