The German peasant settlers who immigrated to Hungary in the 18th century were often did so without documentation or papers with them for various reasons. One of the causes for their emigration from their homeland was the ongoing persecution of the Lutherans by their Roman Catholic landlords and princes. The customs officials at the borders of Hungary were on the lookout for any Protestants trying to enter Hungary and the estate owners did not express delight in seeing Lutheran settlers arrive either and for that reason they often hid whatever documentation they had along with their Bibles and hymnbooks. But one such document was discovered with the renovation of the tower of the Evangelical Lutheran church in Mekényes.
The original settlers who arrived here had left the estates of the Magyari-Kossa family in Gyönk. Some of them had been among the first fifteen families who had settled there after fleeing from Cikó to avoid conversion to Roman Catholicism. Their Calvinist landlord refused to allow the Lutherans to build a church and curtailed their church activities and for that reason they left once again.
The document found in the tower states:
“The villagers who built this tower to the glory of God arrived here in 1735 having left their former settlement to preserve their religious freedom and practice their Lutheran faith. At that time this area was densely forested and scrub land, so that the first settlers spent most of their time clearing the land to create fields. Most of them died in the attempt and only one of them is still living as I write this. Their first neighbours were Croatians who were scattered throughout the district and rather hostile towards us. They often came and simply led away the livestock of the German population right from their stalls knowing that the County officials would not press charges against them. In the midst of all of these difficulties the inhabitants held to their beliefs and traditions. As soon as it was possible these good people built a Bethaus to serve as a school and a place of worship and a parsonage, both built out of wood on their present sites and sought to live out their lives in faithfulness to their Lord. In spite of the problems they faced and the poverty then endured they made do with what they had and were content to serve God as best as they could.
But shortly after this the great persecution against the Lutherans arose in the land; many churches were taken away as was our own Bethaus, the pastors were expelled or imprisoned and countless teachers, our own included, also found themselves as fugitives. This miserable time lasted here until the death of the Empress Maria Theresia. In 1780 her son Joseph II ascended the throne. As a righteous king he restored the legal status of the Protestants in opposition to the Catholic clergy and gave permission to the Protestants to build their churches, schools and call pastors and teachers.
As soon as the news reached us we asked the Roman Catholic teacher who had been imposed upon us to leave in the kindest way possible. We then petitioned to have our Bethaus returned to us and asked for permission to practice our Lutheran faith openly and both of these requests were granted at the beginning of July 1783.
Soon after a beautiful and spacious church was erected by a thankful and joyful people and then God sent a new test to his faithful people. On June 13, 1793 lightning struck this tower of our church and did extensive damage. In that same year, later in November a mammoth fire broke out and destroyed the church, the new parsonage and sixty homes and their outbuildings in the village.
After the restoration of the church the faithful requested that their pastor prepare this document so that their descendants might be strengthened in their belief in the grace of God in Jesus Christ through the faith of the congregation in Mekényes. So that whenever this document comes into the hands of one of our descendants, we ask that it be read to the congregation so that our example might be an encouragement to them to live a Christian life in full trust and confidence in God.”
The document ends with this prayer:
“O God, You who has so wondrously led us and preserved us, be the God of our descendants and keep them in Your pure evangelical teaching and faith. Amen.”