From Budapest to Novi Sad

2018. május 30., szerda

Five years after Budapest, the 2018 CEC General Assembly is being held in Novi Sad, Serbia, where participants will explore the concepts of justice, witness, and hospitality from a European Christian perspective. The RCH is actively participating in the Assembly.

Under the motto “You shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8.), the General Assembly discussions will offer an opportunity for exploring the future of Europe and the churches’ role, promoting vision of a society that encompasses the duty of solidarity, justice and respect for one another and for the world around, as well as fruitful ecumenical relations supporting such a society. The Novi Sad Assembly sessions on Future of Europe will be a space for providing witness on the way to achieve these aims. Many representatives of churches, ecumenical and partner organizations from across Europe will be attending the Assembly, including a delegation from the Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH), the ecumenical officer Balázs Ódor, Rev. Dr. Tamás Kodácsy, member of the CEC Thematic Reference Group on Economic and Ecologic Justice and as youth delegate Diána Erdélyi, ecumenical secretary of RCH. The delegation is larger than that. Also representing the RCH are two stewards and two youth advisors.

The General Assembly is the highest governing body of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) that makes important decisions and devises the future directions for CEC’s work. The body is composed of delegates appointed by CEC Member Churches as well as representatives of Organizations in Partnership. This year, the General Assembly is being hosted by CEC Member Churches in Serbia, including the Serbian Orthodox Church and churches in the Vojvodina region, including the Reformed Christian Church in Serbia, a member of the Hungarian Reformed Church.

The Reformed Christian Church in Serbia was originally part of the greater Hungarian Reformed Church. After the First World War, Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory, and the Hungarian Reformed communities beyond the new boarders of Hungary were forced to reorganize. The Hungarian Reformed communities in this new region ended up living as dual minorities, being Hungarian and Reformed. Today, the Church keeps the same confessions as the Reformed Church in Hungary, the Second Helvetic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism. The Reformed Christian Church in Serbia has 19 pastors serving 17 000 members in 50 congregations. Among the priorities of the Church are the dedication to the children and young people. Despite the financial challenges, the ministers and members of the Church takes its mission for the children and young people very seriously. Currently, the Reformed Christian Church in Serbia is an active member of the Conference of European Protestant Churches (CPCE), the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), and the World Council of Churches.

 

One of the main issues will be the discussion about the future of Europe. The CEC Governing Board in 2016 approved an open letter addressed to its members and partners on the current situation in the continent. Developments in Europe toward more unity and cooperation, so much appreciated some decades ago, are now increasingly put into doubt. Churches in many parts of the continent have been contributing to the European project at different stages by raising their voice, highlighting the role of churches in society, emphasizing the role of churches and ethics and values, reaching beyond economic well-being. This letter launched a broad process of consultation between CEC and its membership leading to the current CEC General Assembly. Many CEC Member Churches, Organizations in Partnership and National Councils of Churches have participated in this process through a variety of means. Some have written responses, others have invited CEC leadership to ecumenical conferences, while still others have held group discussions and consultations. The RCH has participated in regional meetings and has actively reacted to the open letter with a response that was coordinated by the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary (ECCH).  

“The open letter calls us for dialogue about the crucial issue of the future of our continent. We wholeheartedly welcome the openness of the letter and the joint effort to search for new ways in the spirit of the Charta Oecumenica, just like the tone and sobriety of the letter as it reveals the fragmented positions in Europe. Besides the common cause, the document also recognizes the legitimacy of national interests, the disappointment of many citizens and the doubts regarding the issue of common values. It is highly important that we approach these questions in a straightforward and honest manner. Speaking publicly about the future from a Christian perspective always involves risks, and has to include the critical assessment of the present situation, based on the Scripture. This includes the fact that in a “global and international approach” Europe doesn’t play a leadership role anymore, other continents and regions having an increasing power and ability to influence development shaping our future. At the same time, it is utterly important that even ‘in minority’ we sat an example and raise our voice regarding our common future.” Quote from the official response of the ECCH.

 

The RCH is in even more anticipation as the previous General Assembly in 2013 was held in Budapest, Hungary. The RCH, as a member church of the ECCH, was gladly hosting the Constituting Assembly, and it was heavily involved in the planning and execution of the assembly's logistical details. Six full-time RCH staff members were offered to the assembly as co-opted staff, and additionally, Rev. Zoltán Tarr, former General Secretary volunteered as an advisor to the Revision Working Group. The RCH also coordinated a large group of Hungarian volunteers that provided local information throughout the week and worked in conjunction with the assembly stewards.

An RCH communication team produced a short video for the assembly that put an emphasis on youth involvement in CEC and the meaning of the assembly's theme, "And now, what are you waiting for?"

 

 

RCH looks forward very much to contribute to the critical, but constructive discussions in this critical time, with the hope that is expressed in the words of CEC’s President, Christopher Hill. “Novi Sad means the “new” city. May our General Assembly in Novi Sad, held in a city which not so very long ago suffered bombing in war, allow us to witness a vision for Europe which is closer to that of the New Jerusalem; where the gates are open but also where each nation has its identity and place in justice and peace and where war is no more.” Quote from the President’s report.

 Priscilla Yang 

 

Read more: Interview with Béla Halász, Bishop of the Reformed Christian Church in Serbia

Read more: Official response of the ECCH to the Open Letter about the Future of Europe

Read more about the CEC Assembly

Livestreaming at the Assembly

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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.