21 Aug 2020

A Short History of the Anglican Church, Warsaw, Poland

David H. Williams has written A Short History of the Anglican Church, Warsaw, Poland. He was its Chaplain (1995-1997), and tells us more here. 

Anglican ministry in Poland on a permanent basis first commenced in 1706 with the construction of a church in GdaƄsk (Danzig), an important trading port attracting Scottish merchants amongst others. Anglican presence at Warsaw became realistic about 1821, following a visit in 1818 to Tsar Alexander I by the Revd. Lewis Way, a pillar of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews. That was the main thrust of the chaplaincy for many years, and occasionally Britsh residents in Warsaw felt they took second place, but the Society had considerable success. It was a time when 40,000 Jews lived in Warsaw alone. There were difficulties, as in 1826 when the Warsaw Mission was placed by the Russian Government under the oversight of the Evangelical Augsburg Consistory, when in 1855 the missionaries were for a number of years expelled, and a five year closure necessitated during the Great War.

A significant turning point was the opening of the Emmanuel Training House, and the dedication of a large chapel on an upper floor, by the Bishop of Fulham in 1927. It had a fine organ, made in Warsaw, and tablets of the Ten Commandments made by the church treasurer, Mr A. Enholz, Director of the Bible Society in Poland. Not only were several candidates prepared for the sacred ministry, but large numbers attended evening lectures. The complex was destroyed by enemy action in September 1939, and never rebuilt, whilst some of the Jewish congregation are known to have perished in the Treblinka concentration camp. In 1995 the late Cardinal Josef Glemp, Primate of Poland, gave the congregation the shared use of a baroque chapel in the centre of the city, and the church has never looked back.

The Revd David Brown, current Chaplain in Warsaw commends this book:

"Rev David Williams, who was Chaplain to the Church of England in Warsaw, Poland in the late 1990s has written a very well researched History of the Church of England in Poland David was responsible for obtaining the willingness of the Catholic Church in Poland for worship to take place in the beautiful Res Sacra Miser Chapel in the centre of Warsaw. It is a very interesting read."

A Short History of the Anglican Church, Warsaw, Poland, 34 pp., well-illustrated; £5 incl., postage. Obtainable from the author at: College of St Barnabas, Lingfield, Surrey, RH7 6NJ.