Protestants in Poland stand to gain from frequent clashes between the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Communist regime. Wladyslaw Gomulka’s government indicates it is tired of such “hysteria” as was being brought on this month, for example, by reports of a Madonna-like vision over the steeple of St. Augustine’s Church in Warsaw. If there is to be religion in Poland (now some 95 per cent Roman Catholic), Red officials apparently prefer that it take on the form of quieter Protestantism.
Protestant pastors report more freedom to minister, according to the Rev. Earl S. Poysti, who made a 26-day, 3,000-mile preaching tour through Poland last spring.
Poysti, now working for the Gospel Furtherance Society in West Germany, was born in Siberia of Scandinavian parents, came to America in 1935 and subsequently took U. S. citizenship and a degree from New York University.
“Believers seem to take the spiritual life much more seriously than we do in the prosperous West,” says Poysti, who spoke in 25 churches across Poland before congregations of up to 200.
Unlike other Red satellite regimes, the Polish government allows churches to conduct Sunday Schools. “A goodly percentage of the Christians I found were young people,” Poysti observes.
He had gone to Poland under an invitation from the United Evangelical Church of Poland, which with about 100 churches represents the country’s largest Protestant body.
Poysti added that Polish Protestant pastors must be careful not to touch on political issues. “One never hears any criticism of the government in the pulpits,” he said. “Each church is registered with the government which keeps close watch over its activities and growth.”
Most Protestant congregations seem to worship in buildings which are other ...1
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