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Poland


Map of Poland

Poland

World Convention is currently building a global reference for the  countries and territories where we know there are Christian – Churches of Christ – Disciples of Christ Congregations. Of the 193 United Nations States, the Stone-Campbell Movement exists in 174. This listing includes other nations and territories, numbering 195 countries where there is at least one representation of our churches.

Rather than waiting for comprehensive, complete information we are putting up the details we have available. If you can correct or add to this information, please contact the World Convention Office with details at gary@worldconvention.org.

Background

The Republic of Poland is bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine and Belarus to the east; and the Baltic Sea and and Lithuania to the north. Poland became a client state of the Soviet Union in 1944 and was renamed the People’s Republic of Poland in 1952. In 1989, Poland’s communist government was overthrown and Poland adopted a new constitution establishing itself as a democratic republic.

Religion

The religious landscape of the Republic of Poland is dominated by the Roman Catholic Church, which today makes about 95% of the population. Despite this religious hegemony, historically many who had been persecuted found toleration in Poland, dating back to Hussites in the fifteenth century and Anabaptists, Lutherans and other Protestants in the sixteenth century. This toleration was enjoyed until the counter-reformation at the close of the sixteenth century and beginning of the seventeenth century when all Protestant churches were closed down. Today the Eastern Orthodox Church and all other Protestant churches can claim less than five percent of the population.

Stone-Campbell Presence

In Poland an indigenous church movement developed led by Waclaw Zebrowski. In 1913, Disciples from the United States visited him and his church in Warsaw, convinced many to be immersed, and formed a connection with the Stone-Campbell Movement. By 1930, those churches numbered 70 with a total of 6000 members.

In 1912 in Brooklyn, New York, Konstantin Jaroszewicz (1891-1984) was baptized. After attending Johnson Bible College in Knoxville, Tennessee, he returned to Poland in 1921 and began to plant churches, along with evangelists Jerzy Sacewitz (1903-1986) and Jan Bukowicz (1890-1950). By 1926 there were approximately 30 registered congregations. Two years later the Mission Head Office was transformed into the Union of Churches of Christ of Evangelical Confession. The first convention of Churches of Christ took place a year later, in 1929, in Kobryn, with representatives of 28 congregations present. The Union had several aims: preaching, benevolence, education, literature, missions, and unity in the body of Christ. Nineteen twenty-six saw the introduction of the first periodical, Christianskij Sojuz followed by Slowo Pojednania (The Word of Reconciliation) in 1938. A number of books and tracts were also edited. Music also played an important role in the life of the Polish congregations so conducting courses were offered alongside Bible courses. Most events in the life of the Church were accompanied by music from the brass bands and choirs which traveled near and far. By the tenth Polish National Convention in August of 1939 plans were being laid for a Bible college. At that event no one could foresee that only days later war would break out and Poland would become divided between Germany and the Soviet Union.

During the war years the Soviet Union occupied the regions (Polesie and Wolyn) of Poland where many of the churches were located. Restrictions began to be placed on the churches in 1940 and there were some deportations to forced labor camps. The war period was a time of trial and testing for the Polish churches but also a time of drawing closer to God. Following World War II the borders of Poland were changed significantly with some territories being annexed to Belarus and Ukraine. Today the Polish congregations maintain contact with former Polish congregations now in Belarus.

Following the Second World War work in Poland resumed with new vigor. A building was purchased and an office was established in Warsaw. Unity, a new magazine appeared and new committees were formed and the conventions resumed. In 1950 many leaders of the Churches of Christ and other groups were arrested and charged with treachery and espionage. Many were imprisoned and chapels were closed.

To strengthen the witness of the free churches in Poland many of the small groups joined together as the United Evangelical Church. The Union of Churches of Christ merged with that effort in 1953. While the desired unity was never achieved much good was produced through the cooperative effort including the publication of Christian literature, preparation of workers for ministry, and the organization of youth courses, Bible training and so forth. The youth of the churches played a significant role in the work of the Church. Youth camps began in the 1940s. A real boost to the youth work came in 1971 with the purchase of a farm in Ostroda with the dream of converting it to a Christian service camp. Since that time the Ostroda camp has been the gathering place for the Polish churches. The UEC existed until 1987. The following year the Churches of Christ became registered under the name Church of the Congregations of Christ.

The work among the Polish churches has been aided significantly by the American churches. Notable among these efforts have been the Polish Christian Ministries founded by Paul and Adela Bajko in 1954. PCM has produced periodicals, songbooks and other Christian literature for the Polish churches as well as conducted radio broadcasts, supported ministers, built buildings and provided financial support for many efforts. Wayne Murphy became Executive Director in 1994; David A. Hatfield assumed the responsibilities of Executive Director on March 1, 2013.

In addition to PCM, Global Radio Ministries, under the direction of George Bajenski, based in Toronto, Canada, is also involved in Poland. The radio ministry, once transmitted over Trans World Radio, has since been transferred to the national radio stations. GRM also supports new congregations and the camp in Ostroda.

Celebrating their 90th anniversary in 2011,  the National Conference passed a resolution returning  to the historical name of  “The Church of Christ in Poland” .  These churches are actively involved in a wide range of work, including the Retirement Home Betania, Christian Bible Institute, Child’s World Mission, Ostroda Camp, Word and Life Publishing House, and Foreign Mission and Charity Ministry. There are  33 congregations and 12 mission stations in Poland.

The American a cappella Churches of Christ have been active in Poland, including the Polish Relief program of 1981-82 which oversaw the distribution of more than two million dollars worth of relief supplies. Several individuals and groups have conducted campaigns. They sponsor the Sopot School of Preaching in Gdynia. Churches of Christ Around the World 2003 lists seven a cappella congregations in Poland with a membership of 331.

The International Churches of Christ planted the Warsaw church in 2013.

 

Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
April 2003

 

Revised June 30, 2014 by Gary Holloway

For further historical reference:

A History of Churches of Christ in Poland, Paul Bajko, 2001
Above information distilled from this book).
Available from:
Polish Christian Ministries

1212 Schucks Road

Bel Air, Maryland 21015-5008

 

Contact Information

A. National Office

Sekretariat KZCh
ul. Pulawska 114
02-620 Warszawa Poland
Email: sekretariatkzch@pastor.pl

B. Congregational Information

A list of all the churches and mission stations in the Church of the Congregations of Christ can be found in Paul Bakjo’s book (see above).

For information concerning a cappella Churches of Christ in Poland, contact:
Mike Dawidow
ul. Swiatowida 6a
81-543 Gdynia, Poland

C. Educational Institutions

Christian Bible Institute in Warsaw
Michal Weremiejewicz
ul. Pulawska 114
O2-620 Warszawa, Poland
Email: chib@webmedia.pl

Sopot School of Preaching
Mike Dawidow
Ul. Swiatowida 6a
81-543 Gdynia, Poland

D. Social Service Ministries

(For information in English concerning these ministries contact Polish Christian Ministries, see below)

The Retirement Home of Betania Child’s World Mission

Camp Christian Ostroda Camp

Foreign Mission and Charity Ministry

E. Magazines And Periodicals

Slowo I Zycie (Word and Life)
Bronislaw and Nina Hury, Editors
ul. Pulawska 114/7
02-620 Warszawa, Poland

F. International Ministries

Supporting work in Poland:

Polish Christian Ministries

David Hatfield
Executive Director
Polish Christian Ministries
1212 Schucks Road
Bel Air, MD 21015-5008
810-923-0226 (cell phone)
www.pcmusa.org

Global Missionary Radio Ministries
Head Office (in Canada)
4141 Dixie Rd., Box 41201
Mississauga, Ontario
L4W 4X9 Canada
Phone: 905-564-3578
Fax: 905-564-6732
Email: gmm@idirect.com

(In the United States)
P.O. Box 104
Geneva, OH 44041

G. Conventions/Lectureships/Assemblies/Forums/Conferences

The Collegium of Pastors (meets every two years)

Synod Conference of the Congregations of the Churches of Christ (held every four years)

H. Points of Interest

The first Church of Christ building, established in 1921, located in the village of Starowies. Konstanty Jarosewisc’s home is located across the road.