Zigmund, Tobiáš Josef (1905‒1999)

By Jiří Piškula

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Jirí Piškula

First Published: August 15, 2021

Tobiáš Josef Zigmund was director of the Czechoslovakian Bible Seminary and president of the Czechoslovakian Union Conference.1

Early Years and Education

Tobiáš J. Zigmund was born September 10, 1905, in a small village named Ilija in the Bánská Štiavnica district. He converted to the Adventist faith at the age of 19 and used the first opportunity to gain education at Misijní ústav v Loděnici (Mission Institute in Loděnice) in 1927‒1930, where he met Josef Šimon, son of the first Czech Adventist.

Bible Worker and Slovak Mission Field Secretary

After graduation Zigmund started working as a Bible worker in Slovakia in the towns of Košice, Žilina, and Bratislava. At that time, local churches in Slovakia were mostly of a German-Hungarian composition. In 1932 Zigmund became the secretary for the Slovak Mission Field; and from 1937, he took over the responsibilities for editing the Slovak version of the Adventist magazine Stráž Sionská (Zion Guard), published as Stráž pod Tatrami (Guard under Tatra).

Director of Bible School and Bible Seminary

After World War II, Tobiáš Zigmund became director of the newly established Adventist school named Škola biblických nauk (School of Bible Teachings), later Biblický seminář (Bible Seminary). The school under his direction was for two decades the shaping element for incoming ministers. Around this school a local church was established and school magazines and study literature were published.

Under Zigmund’s leadership, dialogues were held with separatist Adventist groups, including one called “The Third Part.” These dialogues resulted in the conversion of many members of the “Third Part” to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Persecution, School Closure, and New Teaching Location

In 1950 the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Czechoslovakia experienced the first significant intervention of state power. The Bible Seminary was closed, and students transferred to Comenius Protestant Theological Faculty. However, in reality only five students out of 62 were able to transfer. From this year onward, Zigmund taught at the Theological Faculty and cared for the Adventist students there.

State Church Ban and State Persecution

In 1951, when the administration of the church resigned under the pressure of the state, Zigmund was in the leading position, until the dissolution of the church in 1952. One of the measures that led to the termination of the church after its official ban was forced labor of ministers in districts where there were no Adventists. Zigmund ignored this order and returned to his native village in Slovakia.

Imprisonment for Religious Reasons

In the fall of 1954, Zigmund became a victim of state persecution against church members, who despite a ban regularly met at church services in their homes. He was arrested in July 1955 and sentenced to the highest penalty of all those who were condemned – to seven years of imprisonment.

Soon after these events, communist authorities decided that it was more favorable to permit the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in order to get control over it. When state authorities were not able to impose certain conditions on Adventist ministers, they started to approach particular ministers whom they thought they would be more compromising. They approached Tobiáš Zigmund in jail, and he promised under the agonizing conditions to the state authorities that the Seventh-day Adventist Church would forfeit its state-confiscated property and that he would endeavor to persuade church members to send their children to school on the Sabbath.

President of the Czechoslovakian Union Conference

In the fall of 1956, Zigmund received a presidential pardon and became the president designate of the Seventh-day Adventist Czechoslovakian Union Conference, confirmed in 1958 by the first union conference constituency meeting after the banning of the church. He served as union conference president until 1963, and was replaced by Oldřich Sládek.

Later Life

Tobiáš J. Zigmund then returned to Slovakia. He died on December 13, 1999.

Source

Piškula, Jiří. Dějiny Církve adventistů sedmého dne v Čechách, na Moravě a ve Slezsku. Prague: Advent-Orion, 2009.

Notes

  1. Due to decades of persecution, historical sources were very often not preserved in East European countries, and as a result, Adventist history in Czechoslovakia is dependent on collective memory and oral traditions, on which this article draws. Cf. also the following dissertation: Jiří Piškula, Dějiny Církve adventistů sedmého dne v Čechách, na Moravě a ve Slezsku (Prague: Advent-Orion, 2009).

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Piškula, Jirí. "Zigmund, Tobiáš Josef (1905‒1999)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 15, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8HC5.

Piškula, Jirí. "Zigmund, Tobiáš Josef (1905‒1999)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 15, 2021. Date of access May 20, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8HC5.

Piškula, Jirí (2021, August 15). Zigmund, Tobiáš Josef (1905‒1999). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 20, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8HC5.