Image of the congregation at the time of joining and leaving

              According to those who left or were expelled, new members received little information regarding the history of the congregation.  Even though this and that has happened since their foundation. Among other thingsthe person who may be considered their founder[1], G. Holic[2], was expelled. “One of the reasons why few words were spoken regarding the beginnings is that the members in Vienna knew that something was not right[3] about Gottfried. The new members did not even know about it, but lessons had to be learned from the mistakes regarding the expulsion of Gottfried” says Albert, one of the expelled prominent members. Aranka, the other reference personality[4] thinks of the congregation that “we should not conceal the past, since Gottfried was indeed a member of the congregation and played a defining role for about two decades”.

              There is also very little said about how many of them there were, and are now, and by how much their number has grown or diminished. Their number has decrease in Hungary from the sixty-seventy ten years ago to thirty today. They had to give up important bases (cities). The entire community encompassing nearly a dozen countries counts about 130 persons[5] today, the number of those expelled is 160, in Hungary 77 persons.

              The ex-brothers, at the time of joining the congregation, saw this community as “deeply religious, they live and act as they speak, which is very rare” (Norbert[6]), where they experienced “a community of love, living pure lives” (Aranka), where they found friends, about whom one of their former friends happened to say “they love each other too much” (Antal). However, there are several who remember - for instance Lenke- that “it was difficult to join, because being together every day and the amount of time devoted to this was a great challenge”. Although, they treated me with love and helped me gladly, I had to force myself into the community, and I did not want to make a final decision if I would stay”.

              Five-fifteen years later - when they left, or (more often) they were expelled - the image of the congregation is much more refined and darker: “I started to notice that we still did not actually do things in the way we discussed them, that being together every day did not have sufficient content, that we ourselves did not experience what we described to others during missionary work, I mainly mean love and honesty” (Ági), „I felt that we were always rushing somewhere and we did not have time for important things. Cohabitation and adaptation were far from perfect. The real question was if this community was truly about love. And also if we were supposed to do what we were doing” (Lenke), „I saw the bad signs, but I was hoping that those things could be corrected. These included competing with each other, dishonesty, performance centric attitude, arrogance, gossips, and that we were excessively proclaiming our own lifestyle, not that of Christ” (Aranka). There were some who did not sense any particular change, they still felt at home, they would have gladly remained there as a married couple. And they revealed this to their demise, they were expelled.


[1]             The Christians do not consider him their founder, saying: “Our founder and leader is solely Jesus Christ. In the course of history Jesus has always called people to follow him. Since God constantly calls people it should not be considered extraordinary that a few Christians found each other in Vienna in the beginning of the eighties of the twentieth century. Josef Aufreiter, Gottfried Holic and Gottfried Preis were among them. None of them intended to establish an independent group. That would have been the work of human pride. In my opinion it would not be a problem if we stated that he was the founder, because he indeed was. We said this because we were accused that our community was not Christian, more like a sect founded by Gottfried” (Albert)

[2]             „Gottfried Holicol Holic had a stroke while he was wrestling. His recovery was slow, he had to learn how to speak again. In one or two years he lost the trust of the members. They believed that he had lied. Finally the image of obedience associated with his personality eroded. An Austrian brother said that Gottfried was no longer an example for them. This event was thought provoking for me. I felt more and more frequently that they were forcing something upon us, which they did not believe themselves” (Albert)

[3]             “For many years it was not allowed to question Gottfried’s position, his behavior and his expectations. He enjoyed some characteristic advantages, he could allow himself to behave in an unloving manner. Some members were explaining and defending this for years”, says Albert. A stroke was necessary for the position of G. Holic to be shaken, but the processing of the event - the responsibility of the members for Holic gaining the “most equal” position - was omitted, and their life practices were shaped according to Holic’s ideas for a long time.

[4]             Who otherwise, as a language teacher, prepared a profound and high quality analysis of the community from the aspects of theology, sociology and psychology, in a way that she makes sometimes very critical comments to the Apology of J. Aufreiter (2001), who was defending the congregation against G. Kluge (Kluge 1993) who was attacking the “Christians”.

[5]             According to Albert, in their heyday their number was 185. It is conspicuous, and it should be the subject of a separate research that in the growing German community (by today the most populous, having exceeded Hungary) there have been very few expulsions and departures, thus they send brothers even to the Paris mission.

[6]             Of course, I changed their names, even though many of them would have used their own.