Reformation Travels Rejuvenate Partnerships

2017. szeptember 19., kedd

The RCH was pleased to host a high-level delegation from the UCC from September 16-19 as they explored Europe to expand their understanding of their Reformed heritage. The RCH has partnered with the UCC on many projects in the last years, including mission co-worker placements and mission projects.

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a leadership delegation from the United Church of Christ (UCC) USA visited Hungary from September 16-19. The delegation to Europe aimed to expand their understanding of their Reformed heritage, recognizing the several stages of Reformation that took place centuries ago. They also focused on what the Reformation means for them and their global church partners today – such as the RCH. The world is in a state of flux, a time of social change and stress. Through all this, UCC leaders examined together issues of common concern, and of unique contexts, and explored ways to respond together and appropriately as Church.  The group will visit five European countries on their trip: the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Hungary, Italy, and Germany – and Hungary was their middle stop. Each country on their journey provided thought-provoking interactions and a more full understanding of the Reformation from a global perspective.

Church leaders in attendance for the trip included Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President, UCC; Rev. Dr. James Moos, Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries, UCC, and Co-Executive, Global Ministries (UCC and Disciples), with his wife, Sharon K Moos; Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries, UCC; Mr. Frank Bolden, Chair, UCC Board of Directors; Mr. Brian Bodager, President and CEO, Pension Boards, UCC, with his wife, Deborah Bodager; Rev. Dr. Monica Dawkins-Smith, Conference Minister, Penn Central Conference, UCC; Rev. Michael Blair, Executive Minister, Church in Action, United Church of Canada; Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, UCC; Ms. Linda Long, staff, Justice and Witness Ministries and Wider Church Ministries, UCC; and Peter Makari, Executive, Middle East and Europe.

On their first day in Budapest, UCC leaders visited Kalunba Social Services Nonprofit Ltd., the RCH’s implementing partner in its Unit for Refugee Integration. There, they met with the RCH Diaconal Office’s current Head of the Unit for Refugee Integration, Ms. Dóra Kanizsai-Nagy to discuss her work with the church for refugees in the city and were impressed by the RCH’s dedication to welcoming the stranger. Following the meeting at Kalunba, the delegation visited the Reformed Church at Calvin Square – the first Reformed church in Pest and currently Budapest’s biggest Reformed church – and the Reformation Jubilee Exhibit of the National Museum.

Sunday morning saw the delegation gathered with other foreigners at St. Columba’s Scottish Mission, a congregation of both the Church of Scotland and the Reformed Church in Hungary, whose links go back to the early days of the Reformation. Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the UCC, gave the sermon and discussed our “little toils of love.” He told those gathered that, “How you orient yourself towards the stranger is really a question of how you want to live your life,” and reassured them that small acts of love can make an immense difference.

Following the service, the UCC delegation sat down for a dialogue with Rev. Aaron Stevens, Minister, and Rev. Njeri Wagana Hughes, Associate Minister, who care for the vibrant international congregation. The group talked about the history of the congregation and what it’s like to minister to and welcome such a diverse group of congregants. A flavorful Bangla lunch followed at a local restaurant known for hiring and supporting refugees in the city – a tangible way of supporting businesses that have good practices.

On their last day in the city, UCC leadership began with an informal breakfast and chat with Kearstin Bailey, a Global Mission Intern through the UCC and DOC-supported Global Ministries who has been serving with the RCH since October 2015. She talked to the group about her work in Hungary and had the opportunity to delve into deep topics about her mission experience. After this, the delegation met with department leaders Rev Tamás Kodácsy and Rev Eszter Dani from the RCH synod office representing Eco, Mission, and Roma work. These discussions gave the UCC leaders an in-depth look at the vital work being done in Hungary and throughout the Carpathian Basin by the RCH and its diaspora communities. The group then traveled from the Synod to Budapest’s 8th district to visit a Roma Mission project that serves as an integrated church plant and an after-school center for Roma youth.

Before they left, leadership from the UCC also met with RCH Presiding Bishop Dr. István Szabó. He told the group that, in Hungary, “We are still learning. To be reformed in Hungary means to try to live out those ideas of things that we couldn't do hundreds of years ago.” As Bishop Szabó sees it, the biggest task for the RCH right now is to, “Find the gospel, let the gospel speak, be good Christians, and live according to the holy rule of God,” but, “it’s not always so easy!” he reminded the delegation. At the end of the conversation, the General Minister and President of the UCC, Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, told the Bishop that, “We leave here with Hungary in our veins and in our hearts.”

During their time in Hungary, the high-level delegation from UCC had a unique experience to learn about the Reformation in this context. Much of the discussion during their time here revolved around what the Reformation means for the church today, and how that impacts church partnerships around the world. They had the privilege to meet and speak with many influential people in Hungary – people working on national and community levels to affect change in their communities. Each meeting and visit provided thought-provoking interactions and a more full understanding of the Reformation from a global perspective.

 

Article by Kearstin Bailey

Photos by Vargosz/reformatus.hu

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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 

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