The Rev. Dr. Fred Metzger
Reverend Dr. Frederick Metzger was a pastor and missionary who has been honoured for his work in protecting Jews in Nazi-era Hungary and assisting Hungarian refugees in emigrating to Canada. An avid collector of artifacts and artwork, Rev. Metzger scoured the museums of the world looking for pieces that connect to the biblical story and then brought them home to Vancouver.
Fred Metzger was born in Budapest in 1920, to German and Hungarian parents. In 1941 he was ordained by the Reformed Church of Hungary. As a young Reformed Church minister on the Good Shepherd Commission, Metzger was especially active, opening his home and working underground, posing as a chaplain of a chemical company, helping Jews and Christians to escape Nazi persecution during the Second World War. Metzger saved several Jewish lives from the horrors of the Holocaust, amongst them the Chief Rabbi Joseph Berg and his sister. The Israeli government honored him with the Terra Sancta Award and the 25 th Anniversary Silver Medal of the Holy Land. Later, in 2006 Metzger was also presented by the Israeli ambassador to Canada with the “Righteous Among the Nations” medal and title, honouring non- Jewish people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
In 1949 Fred married Margaret Friesen, a Canadian missionary to Hungary, but a few months later, she was ordered out of Hungary as an alien by the Communist Government. Under the World Council of Churches they worked in Hungarian refugee camps in West Germany until 1950.
Reverend Metzger came to Canada in 1950 as a minister of the Reformed Church in Hungary and was soon appointed to start Calvin Hungarian Presbyterian Church in Edmonton. In 1953 he was sent to Vancouver to begin another Hungarian congregation and in 1956, was sent by the church to Vienna during the Hungarian Uprising to bring more than 4,000 Protestant refugees and six Presbyterian ministers to Canada. From 1958-1962 Fred was a faculty member of the Vancouver Bible Institute. In 1967, Reverend Metzger was appointed as minister of St. Columba Presbyterian Church Vancouver, where he remained until his retirement in 1993 as active minister. Metzger was also the institutional chaplain at the Central City Mission in Vancouver, the largest men’s shelter in Canada from 1958-1964; founded the Westminster Foundation for clinical training of clergy in 1967 and helped establish the Vancouver Crisis and Suicide Prevention Centre.
In 1997 he received his Doctor of Divinity degree (honoris causa) from the Presbyterian College at McGill University, Montreal. Reverend Metzger originally received the thought of a biblical museum at Expo 1967 in Montreal, and went ahead with the idea. It had been endorsed by the Vancouver and District Council of Churches, the B.C. Centennial Committee, and the Patron was Roman Catholic Archbishop James Carney. That same year, while on a study tour of Israel, Metzger began collecting replicas of artwork and artifacts that connected to the biblical story. Over the years, Metzger gathered replicas from over 18 world museums and picked up other items from his yearly trips to the Middle East.
In 1980, Reverend Metzger founded and became the Executive Director of the Biblical Museum of Canada – Quest Exhibits, having collected over 1,200 replicas of items from Sumerian, Egyptian, Biblical and Classical times, together with art objects and documentations from the Middle Ages to Modern History.
Over the years, before coming to Columbia Bible College, selected items have been exhibited at the Expo ’86 100 Huntley Street Pavilion, Missions Fest, Vancouver Public Library, and Regent College.
Fred’s wife, Margaret, died in 1998 and Fred married Florence Edge over a year later. Florence was heavily involved as the secretary and cataloguer of the collection and was instrumental in paving the way for its transfer to the college.
Reverend Metzger died on March 9th , 2011, knowing that his “teaching museum” would be moving to Columbia Bible College.
Fun fact: children visiting Rev. Metzger’s house enjoyed dressing up his statues with hats!