30 September 2021 | On September 25, a city square in Krakow, Poland, was named after Michał Belina-Czechowski, seen by many as the first foreign missionary of the Adventist Church.
Czechowski, who was originally from Poland, joined the Adventist Church while living in the United States in 1857. A few years later he requested permission to be sent by the denomination to be a missionary in Europe but church leadership at the time refused to send him. Controversially, Czechowski then traveled to Europe while sponsored by a different denomination. When he got to Europe, he proceeded to preach the Seventh-day Adventist message, albeit without the missionary credentials from the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. Czechowski preached Seventh-day Adventist doctrine in a number of European countries, winning many converts before his death in 1876.
According to Michal Rakowski and the Seventh-day Adventists in Krakow website, official guests were present at the September 25 naming ceremony for the square, including Members of Parliament, the Marshal of the Province, the Mayor, and City Councilors.
The event was more broadly designed to recognize Adventist work in Krakow. The denomination was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its presence in the Polish city.
“During the ceremony on Saturday, Adventists in Krakow were also awarded the official Badge of Honour – the Małopolska Cross – by the Marshal of the Małopolska province,” reported the Seventh-day Adventists in Krakow group.
“We are glad that for over 100 years the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been cultivating Protestant religious and social customs in Krakow. Krakow is an open city, friendly to all residents, and our strength is diversity and openness,” said Mayor of Krakow Jacek Majchrowski during the ceremony, according to Seventh-day Adventists in Krakow. “We are doing our best to ensure that people with different worldviews, representing various minorities, including religious minorities, feel well here,” he concluded.
“Poland had many outstanding citizens who were not afraid of changes. They were great patriots. For example, Nicolaus Copernicus, who, apart from his amazing skills, also showed admirable courage. Michał Belina-Czechowski displayed similar courage. He acted uncompromisingly both as a patriot, the first European missionary of the then-new religious community, as well as a pioneer of abstinence movements,” said Pastor Ryszard Jankowski, president of the Polish Union Conference.
Adventist Mission explains that “Czechowski dreamed of working as a missionary in what is today Poland but was barred from the region because of nationalist activities that he had engaged in prior to immigrating to the United States.”
“Due to his actions for the benefit of the country, he was forbidden to enter Poland, which was his greatest dream. The centenary of the Krakow congregation this year became a beautiful pretext for the symbolic return of Belina-Czechowski to Krakow,” said Pastor Marek Rakowski, secretary of the Polish Union Conference, who had filed the application to have the square named after Czechowski.
Photo: Left to right— Adventist leaders Marek Rakowski and Ryszard Jankowski, Krakow Mayor Jacek Majchrowski and Małgorzata Jantos, leader of Krakow City Hall’s culture and heritage department.