THE SHORT HISTORY OF THE FIRST HUNGARIAN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The first church records show that in 1926 Rev. Ferenc Kovacs commuted from Hamilton to Toronto on Sundays to hold services for the Hungarian people gathered in private homes. In 1928, Bela Bucsin, a student at Knox College, was appointed to hold services. The elders held meetings to establish the Hungarian Presbyterian Congregation. In 1929 they had the first seal of the church and from that time the foundation of the congregation is commemorated.
The early years of the depression were hard times for the Hungarian people and the work of the church was carried on with great difficulty and much heartache. Then, in 1932, Karoly Steinmetz, a student at Knox College, was appointed to reorganize the work. Sunday services were held in the hall of the Scott Mission. A thriving Sunday School was begun, as well as a Women's Auxiliary and a Youth Group. Upon graduation, Mr. Steinmetz was ordained to be minister of the congregation and the work continued to develop.
Special fundraising events were held and in 1936 a site was purchased at 206 McCaul Street. On February 5, 1939, the new church building was officially opened and dedicated. In 1950, the Presbytery declared the congregation to be self-sustaining.
At the conclusion of World War II, many people emigrated from Hungary, some finding their way to Toronto. In the turmoil of those times, the congregation was served with faith and devotion by Rev. Dr. Lajos Nagy (1952-1955), Rev. Dr. Kalman Toth (1955-1959), Bela Karoly, a Lutheran minister (1959-1960), and Rev. Laszlo Bathory (1960-1963).
After the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, about 200,000 escaped from Hungary, many of them coming to Toronto and finding a spiritual home in the congregation. It had become evident that the congregation needed a larger church building. During the ministry of Rev. Odon Seress (1964-1991), fundraising began again and a search was made for new premises. This culminated in the purchase of the present beautiful church on Vaughan Road in 1967, which was officially dedicated on October 27.
After the retirement of Rev. Seress, Rev. Ferenc Szucs, a minister from Hungary, served the congregation for two-and-a-half years and then returned to Hungary.
In 1994, Rev. Zoltan Vass came to the congregation from Hollywood, California. He serves the congregation with great energy and devotion. There is an efficient Women's Club, a Men's Club, a Sunday School and Confirmation Class, a Church Choir with high standards and a Bible Study Group. Ecumenical services are held annually with other Hungarian churches in Toronto, as well as other congregations within the Presbytery.