A Glance Back at 2016

2016. december 27., kedd

We look back a year of fulfilling partnerships and vital church initiatives. Over the last year, the RCH has been involved in global efforts to spread Christ’s love to the world in tangible ways.

Through its partnerships with churches in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas, 2016 has been a year of cooperation and community for the RCH. In the midst of all of this, the church has also remembered the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Revolution as well as begun preparations for the upcoming Reformation Jubilee in 2017. This past year has been one of deep connections between the RCH and the wider world, and it already seems that 2017 will follow suit.

American University has a Long History with Hungary

Each year since 1997, a group of students from Calvin College, a Reformed Christian university in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, has come to Hungary for a semester abroad at Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary. The students immerse themselves in Hungarian life and studies, while being transformed through vital service-learning placements. The RCH recently spoke with two faculty members at Calvin College to learn more about the history of this remarkable partnership. 

Dutch Descendent Visits Budapest in Honor of Heroic Ancestor Who Freed Galley Slaves

A descendent of the Dutch Admiral Michiel de Ruyter visited Budapest to pay homage to the man who freed Hungarian galley slaves on the 340thanniversary of the historic day. The story of the brave Hungarian pastors who were sold into slavery and the Dutch Naval heroes who rescued them continue to reverberate to this day in the lives of their descendants. “The common thread in his story is working together,” says Frits de Ruyter de Wildt about his ancestor. 

Volunteers from all Walks of Life Help the Roma in Józsefváros

Rev István Lakó, the Assistant Pastor and Roma Mission Leader of the Reformed Congregation at Salétrom Street, in the eighth District of Budapest, talked with the RCH about the unique ministry happening at YOU+ME. He discusses how this ministry is different from other Roma outreach projects and the tangible ways in which it has impacted the community in central Budapest. 

Delegation From PCUSA Visits RCH to Learn About Work with Refugees

International partners from the Presbyterian Church (USA) visited the RCH in the Spring to deepen ecumenical ties between the American and Hungarian churches while tracing the path of refugees through Hungary, Greece and Germany. The delegation, led by the PCUSA Moderator, also consisted of representatives from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), as well as local pastors and leaders from the wider PCUSA denomination, who came to engage in active support of the work being done in Hungary by the RCH for migrants and asylum seekers.

Getting Familiar with Roma Life in Hungary

As of September 2016, it is now mandatory for all students to learn about Roma studies at the Debrecen Reformed Theological University. The university has set up a separate department for bringing students closer to Roma history, culture, and traditions. The department is led by Romologist Mrs. Judit Kármán Szabó Phd., who is convinced that the department could turn the negative view of Roma in society into a better one. 

European Churches Continue the Discussion on Migration

The RCH invited international ecumenical partners to a follow-up consultation to the January Evangelical Church in the Rhineland (EKiR) meeting, regarding the refugee crisis as a challenge to the European partner churches. This consultation, jointly organized with EKiR, was held in Budapest, Hungary from June 2-3 with discussions that sought to engage in critical theological reflection on Churches’ statements on migration and then examine the policy proposals that have been put forth by churches and ecumenical organizations as a result of these official statements. The consultation then focused on the immediate situation regarding migrants and refugees in countries heavily affected by the current crisis.

Ongoing Partnership with HEKS Acts as a Model for Future Initiatives

The historic partnership between Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS) and the Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) continues as members of both organizations gathered in Budapest June 23-24 to discuss their ongoing partnership work in the region. The meeting focused on the wildly successful three-year Country Program (CP) in Hungary and the future priorities for continuing it for the next four years. HEKS’s contribution to the RCH’s outreach projects in local congregations is quite significant – these funds act as an enabler and catalyst for on-the-ground work in communities and its activities directly realize goals that are defined in RCH’s overarching work.

HRC Youth See Faith in Action in Canada

A youth delegation of eight people from the Hungarian Reformed Church, including members from Romania, Ukraine, and Hungary, participated in the Canada Youth International Visitor Program of the Presbyterian Church in Canada in July. The youth spent one week touring Canada and learning about its history, followed by one week at the Canada Youth 2016 gathering. The groups’ time in Canada was a wonderful opportunity to see faith in action in an international context, and all those who experienced it came back to Budapest energized about the church in the wider world. 

Celebrating the Faith of our Roma Brothers and Sisters

In August, the RCH published an English translation of a popular interview series done highlighting the work of Roma youth, mission workers, pastors, and artists within the RCH. The publishing of this work was supported by the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland (EKiR). The publication aimed to present the faith, desires, and struggles of our Roma brothers and sisters, thus contributing to the development of smaller and larger communities of mixed ethnicity where the Lord is praised, and ultimately to the creation of God’s kingdom here on earth. 

Highlighting Special Ties with the Church of Scotland

The Church of Scotland (CofS) and the Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) have links going back to the early days of the Reformation. In celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the Scottish Mission in Budapest, the CofS and the RCH came together for a Jubilee celebration in September. The Jubilee included a visiting delegation of Scots, a multi-media exhibition at the Mission, and a historical website highlighting the unique partnership between the two churches throughout the years. 

Supporting South Korean Brothers and Sisters

RCH Presiding Bishop Dr. István Szabó recently traveled South Korea to meet with partner churches and discuss the strong ecumenical ties that exist. During his trip, Bishop Szabó attended the synod meetings for the PCK and PROK partner churches and also gave a lecture on ecumenical relationships. During his time in South Korea, Bishop Szabó was aided on the ground by two RCH Korean mission partners - Chae Hwa Jeong from the PCK and Rev. Kim Seon Koo from the PROK.

Synod Remembers the 1956 Revolution

2016 marks the 60th anniversary of Hungary’s 1956 Revolution. In memoriam of these events, the RCH Synod held a special session meeting, a Synod of Remembrance, which was attended by prominent leaders in the community. During the Synod meeting, the RCH approved a special memorandum to commemorate the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956.

Embracing All and Preparing for the Jubilee

The RCH Synod met for the sixth meeting of the 14th cycle on the 16-17th November. They discussed the importance of welcoming people with disabilities into the church, appointing new members to the HRCA Board of Trustees, the upcoming Reformation Jubilee, as well as the Starpoint Youth Festival.

They’re Not From Mars

A statement regarding the acceptance of our disabled brothers and sisters in the church was adopted at the recent November Synod meeting. The statement was prepared by experts from the Transtibiscan region and it was suggested that institutions and congregations should implement it in their missions.

Engaging in a Dialogue with East and West

RCH Ecumenical Officer, and Co-moderator of WCRC Europe’s Task Force on Migration and Refugee, Balázs Ódor, attended a conference in Lebanon in November with the Fellowship of the Middle East Evangelical Churches.  It was FMEEC’s third International Conference on Evangelicals and Christian Presence in the East, seeking to bring churches from the East and the West together. Questions of a Cross-regional approach of reformed Churches to Migration were part of the discussions as well as the necessity of an open dialogue between the East and West.


Kearstin Bailey

Cover Photo: Passage of Time by Black Crow Arts

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Reformed Church in Hungary

Address: H-1146 Budapest, Abonyi utca 21.   

PO Box: 1140 Budapest 70, Pf. 5

Phone/Fax: + 36 1 460 0708 

Email: oikumene@reformatus.hu

Our church through American eyes


We encourage you to read our  former GM intern Kearstin Bailey's blog about her time, spent in Hungary.