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A Brief History


by by
Rev. Donald Elliott Bernard Pike



During 1980, the Central & North London District Council of the URC decided that Trinity should share ministry with the Holloway Church. Early in 1981, Revd Istvan Kardos was called from his chaplaincy of a Hungarian Boarding School in Kastl, Bavaria, Germany to be minister of both churches.  At the interview with the Trinity Elders in February, Istvan, quizzed by Bernard Pike about his faith as a ‘Calvinist’, said that to him Calvinism meant the supreme leadership of Christ in every aspect of life.  He mentioned that he had been expelled from College in Budapest in 1951.

Ildiko and Istvan Kardos left Hungary soon after the 1956 uprising and its suppression by the Soviets.  Istvan had commenced theological studies, but been thwarted in his ministerial vocation through the state authorities requiring him to train for the competition in equestrian dressage at the Rome Olympic Games.  Prompted by an acquaintance in the same apartment block in Budapest, they decided overnight to make for the border with Yugoslavia. With only the clothes they had on and no belongings, they took the evening train to the south, but got off before their destination when they spotted security guards embarking.  Staying overnight at the hotel in the town, the resident pianist quietly approached them and offered the help of an acquaintance to take them by horse and wagon to a farm on the border. Ildiko was expecting a child (Judith).  Arriving at the farm, lights were doused for fear of border guards. Snow was thick, but under cover of darkness they horse-sledged and then trudged alone across fields guided only by a star.  Istvan counted their steps to reckon their distance of travel.  Just as Ildiko could go no further, they saw a light and – much later - discovered they were in Yugoslavia.  The next day, police picked them up on the road and eventually they came to a refugees’ gathering point where they had to sleep on a table.  From there they were taken to a refugee centre in Serbia. Some months later, traced through the Red Cross, a letter arrived from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland offering Istvan a scholarship to complete theological studies at Assembly’s College, Belfast. They arrived there in 1957 with their eldest child Judith born in Vienna. 

In 1960 Istvan Kardos was ordained at Great Victoria Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast, where Sarah was born.  He was seconded to work with Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service (later re-named Christian Aid) under Janet Lacey. He became the pastor of the Hungarian Church in Barons Court. Stephen and John born in Carshalton. In 1961 he was called to serve in Minterburn, Northern Ireland. There he met Revd Arthur Macarthur, then General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of England.  As a result, in 1964 he accepted ministry in Aylesbury on a Council estate  From a worshipping congregation of  6 or 7, the church grew to 120 strong. 

Then in 1971 he took up an appointment as Protestant Chaplain to the Hungarian Bording School, and in 1976 became pastor to the ‘Hugenot’ Church in Schwabach.  The children (except Sarah) went to school in Debrecen, Hungary.

After the Induction at which Revd David Viles gave the charges, Istvan wrote in the Newsletter:

 “God has a purpose with us and we have to work hand-in-hand in order that we may learn and do His will. We shall meet difficulties at times and Christianity is indeed an exciting adventure. Our Lord Himself entered the very centre of our crises and conflicts and to the world He appeared as a rather tragicomic loser. We know, though, that He defeated the forces of evil and destruction and, therefore, we do not have to worry about the final outcome. Jesus tells us clearly what we can expect: "In the world you will have trouble; but do not lose heart, I have overcome the world."  We have been called to proclaim and demonstrate His victory and all its implications. Isn't this an exciting challenge?

Yours sincerely,  ISTVAN KARDOS                   

From a church ‘looking after poor people’, the aim now was to have everyone share in the responsibilities. The Elders minutes of 16th March 1981 record that  ‘A Bible and a kettle (!) had been purchased with some of the money donated by Mrs Hamilton in memory of her husband’.  On 1st June, it was agreed that Hector Turner ‘would carry it into church on Sunday mornings and place it on the lectern’.  Hector was to retire as an Elder in 1984, writing, ‘It has been a joy and privilege to have been allowed to serve the Church for the last 55 years without a break…’  He had been Session Clerk/Church Secretary from 1934 to 1976. He was presented with an electric typewriter.










90th birthday celebrations for Hector Turner and Nancy Brown

 In October 1981, Fred Williams asked the Elders Meeting about the procedure for Communion services.  ‘Bernard Pike explained that during the singing of the last verse of the hymn prior to the Communion the Elders go to the platform… The Minister opens… and when he announces the bread, the those serving the bread immediately stand and he gives them the bread; they take it to the congregation and the other two servers follow.  When that is completed, all four go back to the platform and sit down…  The Minister serves the Elders, the Elder on the Minister’s left serves the Minister and then sits down’.

 Christian Aid Week that year raised £1,760.  72% of the congregation voted in favour of the URC joining in the ill-starred nation-wide Covenant for Christian Unity. At the end of 1981, a group of nine young people from Taize stayed in the church building as part of a pan-European Pilgrimage of Reconciliation.

 Early in 1982, Istvan Kardos expressed concern about the lack of continuity in the worship patterns at Camden and Holloway and suggested a change in the time of services to allow him to be present at both churches on a Sunday morning. In May, he took up a Chaplaincy post at the University College Hospital.

 Jean Cunningham had worked for many years as proof-reader to S.C.M. publishing, and was fluent in New Testament Greek.  When she retired in 1982 she developed a taste for world travel, and then became Trinity’s Church Secretary and also Secretary to the Pastoral Committee of the Central & North London District Council.

 Through Boris and Clare Anderson, formerly missionaries in Taiwan, the work of the Camden Chinese Community was introduced to the church, and eventually the Chinese Nursery was set up under the leadership of Shu Pao Lin. In 1982, the Nursery received a grant of £40,000 and sought to establish the work on a more permanent basis.

 In 1983, the Elders Meeting consisted of Hector Turner, Richard Beepat, Nancy Brown, Annie Clifford, Jean Cunningham, Molly Johnson, Molly Karamath Lesley Millar, Bernard Pike, David Ramsay, Sarah Reeks, John Stewart, and Fred Williams.

 Until 1979 Hamish Fraser had served as Church Secretary and had continued to do much to maintain the church buildings while Lila Fraser had organised many of the social events of the congregation.  In 1983 they moved to near Woodbridge in Suffolk, and Ildiko Kardos found herself involved in the care of the property and in co-ordinating social events. And it was that year that the minister suffered a heart attack.










Congregational Sunday in the Frasers’ garden; Jean Cunningham standing in the centre

 In 1984, John Bremner – a candidate for ministry – was appointed as Lay Assistant to the minister for about a year.  John is now minister at South Croydon.

 Inez Peters with others organised Caribbean evenings; her dancing had to be seen to be believed! In 1985, Mr and Mrs Obuabang and Mr and Mrs Osei were enquiring about church membership. In 1986, Simon and Elizabeth Ahiafor also joined, and the links with West Africa were reinforced.

Marian Beha, who was ordained Elder in 1985, and Dot Fraser combined to produce some outstanding pieces of drama in which the Sunday children could fully join.  In 1990, they contributed to a  Synod Children’s Work conference. From time to time the ‘Junior Church’ led the services. In 1987, Zab Osei, Kenneth McKelvey and Noel Fraser were ordained as Elders.  David and Christine Ramsay transferred to Crouch End Union Church.

In 1988, a long-lasting link was forged with the church in Groenenbach, Bavaria, and the pastor Reinhard Huber became a good friend.  He brought his communicants’ class to stay. In 1989, a group from Trinity visited Bavaria. With the generous help of these German friends, our excellent little pipe organ was repaired.

 Another link was made with Brian and Christine Austin who ran an evangelical enterprise called Mustard Seed. They sought to reach out to drug addicts from a shop selling books and plants next door to the church on Kentish Town Road.  They became in effect for a while the unofficial caretakers of the church buildings.  

Just before Christmas 1992 Revd Istvan Kardos died. During the ensuing vacancy, a District consultation concluded that a full-time minister should be arranged for Camden Town for a number of years, and the link with Holloway was severed.  The Elders also met to work out some vision for the future, and the ideas for a Camden Prayer Cycle and for a more welcoming and brighter entrance-way were born.  The Revd. Donald Elliott was interim moderator.


Fred Williams and Bernard Pike and friends open a bus trip