A Brief History
of the Unitarian Church of Gagy, Transylvania
By Rev. Zoltan Gal
The history of our church dates back to the time of the Reformation, in the 16th century. The original location of the church was on the place called “Templomdomb”, which means the hill of the church. In those times the congregation could not afford a minister of their own, so they attended the church of Szentabraham, 3 miles away.
In 1666 the congregation called its first minister, George Hevizi, and built a new church on the present location. The church was finished a year later. In 1701 and 1708 two bells were placed in the church tower, made from coins withdrawn from circulation by Prince Ferenc Rákoczy II. Both bells ended their service as cannons: first during the Hungarian Revolution for freedom in 1848-1849, and the second during World War I. In 1872 Ferenc Szent-Királlyi, a local nobleman offered a new bell to the church. In 1932 the Women’s Association did fundraising and collected money for replacing the second bell. These bells call everyone to church on each Sunday.
The church has been renovated several times since the 19th century. In 1881 a new tower was built with rocks and brick in the place of the old one made of wood. More work needed to be done on the church almost every year thereafter, so the General Meeting of the church agreed to start fundraising for a new church in 1890. The building was finished in 1901, with Rev. John Gálfalvi and Peter Hurubás, the lay-president, playing leading roles.
In that same year the congregation bought an organ from the German Saxon Lutheran Church of Segesvár (Sighisoara), and it needs renovation now as well. We do not have an organist, so the singing during the services is led by the minister.
During the two World Wars, the archives of the church were devastated. In 1916 the Romanian troops came to the village and destroyed the old registers. During World War II Russians broke into the parsonage and destroyed almost everything. What was left of the old archives now resides in the National Archives of the state, and is held in Csikszereda (Miercurea Ciuc). A friend has made a copy of the registers from the National Archives, so we have a second copy of the originals. Romanian laws don’t make it possible to get the original registers back, but at least now we have the opportunity for them to be studied.
Nowadays we number about 370 Unitarian members, of which 120 are children. The members of the church make a living primarily from farming, and some of them work in factories in the nearby towns. A big part of the community is of Roma, or Gypsy, ethnicity, but the majority is still Hungarian.
We are a native Hungarian speaking ethnicity that was a part of Hungary from the very beginning to 1920, when, based on the Treaty of Trianon, the region became part of Romania. In 1940 we were taken back by Hungary, and four years later we became Romanian citizens again at the end of World War II. Border lines have been drawn differently from time to time, but we have lived on the same land, in the same village, for hundreds of years, being the subject of controversy of two countries.
These are just few dates from the history of our church. But I invite you to come to visit us, to know us better, and so we may build up a partnership based on love and friendship!