International Ecumenical Solidarity for the Ukraine

2015. március 04., szerda

It was in March 2014 that Bishop Sándor Zán Fábián first addressed publicly the threat reality and proximity of the Ukrainian war. More than a year has passed. The ecumenical solidarity with the Reformed Church in Sub-Carpathia has become stronger with the crisis.

In March of 2014 at the General Convent in Beregdaróc, Bishop Sándor Zán Fábián addressed the meeting on the threat reality and proximity of the Ukrainian war. This was mainly in reference to the effect it will have on the Hungarian minority living in the Ukrainian part that borders Hungary. The ecumenical solidarity with the Reformed Church in Trascarpathia (RCT) has become stronger with the crisis.

 

More and more men are fleeing the Ukraine, as thousands of men belonging to the Hungarian minority were drafted, in this crisis that is causing mobilisation of the army. The humanitarian catastrophe caused by the war threatens not only the territories affected by the armed conflict, but also the entire Ukraine. The Reformed Church in Hungary is continuously providing support, be it physical or spiritual, by reaching out to other churches and also through its charity organisation, the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid (HRCA).

The HRCA has done a lot to help in the crisis, following its Action Plan released in September 2014 that was prepared after discussions held on 15th August 2014, by Sub-Carpathian church leaders and representatives of the local government who informed the leaders of HRCA about the actual political and social situation. In addition, the leaders of HRCA informed the local leaders about the possible assistance capacities. Throughout the autumn and winter, the HRCA has been able to send help to the church as well as fundraise in the Hungarian Reformed Church. Some of the contributions include 34,000 Euro that was raised by Transylvanian Reformed Church District of the Reformed Church in Romania.

The Hungarian Reformed Church, in its reaching out was able to get solidarity from members of WCRC in form of statements. In addition to the individual letters of solidarity from partner churches, also WCRC assured the local church of its solidarity and support, addressing Bishop Sándor Zán Fábián of RCT. During the Ukrainian Ceasefire Agreement, CEC and WCC on behalf of ecumenical partners showed solidarity through published press statements in which they spoke of the need for peace through dialogue, as well as called for prayer for peace to prevail in the region and the world at large.

In addition to statements, a WCRC Europe delegation visited Ukraine, on 9th-11th January 2015, on an official solidarity visit to the Reformed Church. The delegation was hosted by Bishop Sándor Zán Fábián and Lay President Béla Nagy, the latter of whom is also director of the church’s diaconal centre. The delegation included, Rev. Jan-Gerd Heetderks, President of WCRC Europe; Rev. Balázs Ódor, a Vice President of WCRC Europe; Rev. Susan Brown, Convener of the Europe Committee of the Church of Scotland; Phil Tanis, executive secretary for communications of the WCRC;  Rev. Seon Koo Kim, a missionary to Hungary from the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea; Rev. Miroslav Pfann, a Czech Reformed minister who will soon be serving churches in Ukraine; and Diána Erdélyi, Ecumenical Secretary for the Reformed Church in Hungary.

During the Second Conference of Protestant Synod Members from around Europe organised by the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) on 30th January to 1st February in Budapest, Hungary, the members showed solidarity again to RCT. The first day of the conference began with an opening service by the Reformed Church in Hungary, during which, Sándor Zán Fábián said some prayers, and it was also an opportunity for those attending to give an offering that would go towards supporting Ministers’ families and widows’ of ministers of the reformed community in Sub-Carpathia. Participants also sent messages of solidarity to reformed congregations in Ukraine.

“I wish that the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ will come into your heart and overcome all fear and hatred so that you can strengthen all the struggle for peace and life and resist against the trials to involve you into this senseless and cruel conflict.”

 “You are not alone, dear sisters and brothers!”

 “We thank God for you, that you are a light for people in your country. And pray for you!“

“God be with you in your struggle for justice and God surround you with his love! Amen”

“You are in our prayers – God be with you and give you strength, just for today…”

“May God bless you and help keep you faithful”

“Blessings and peace among all the people regardless race, nationality, denomination. Peace for Ukraine, with God everything is possible Amen!”

“We pray for peace in all regions of Europe and the world, but in this meeting especially for your region, church and people! Peace be with you!”

In March, other ecumenical support was shown in Belfast, Ireland. During the European Area Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the situation in Ukraine was on the agenda when a report on the WCRC solidarity visit to Beregszász (Berehove) and Dercen was given. “Part of our role is to encourage and support one another,” explained Martina Wasserloos of Germany’s Reformed Alliance and a Vice President of WCRC Europe. “Listening to the report we noted that though it is a vulnerable community facing immense difficulties and uncertainties, the Church has a vision and practice of a serving faith community” she added. At their meeting, the Area Council members even voted on a special donation for the RCT. 

A World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation led by the general secretary visited Ukraine from 17 to 20 March 2015. The delegation was comprised of high-level representatives from the global fellowship of churches represented in the WCC. From the beginning of the current crisis in Ukraine, the WCC has been concerned for the lives and livelihoods of all people affected. The WCC delegation also met the representative of RCT. Rev János Héder Vice Bishop of RCT informed the ecumenical representatives about the situation and challenges which the RCT has to face in midst of Ukrainian war. "Ecumenical efforts led by the World Council of Churches (WCC) continue to encourage peace in Ukraine, where a fragile cease-fire is daily tested by violence in the eastern part of the country" - reads in the recent up-date on WCC's website.

With close monitoring of the events in Sub-Carpathia, the General Convent has also hold its meeting in the city nearest to the Hungarian border, as a sign of brotherly and sisterly support towards the Reformed Church in Sub Carpathia. The meeting was twofold, to cover the agenda and also to express solidarity with the reformed community in Transcarpathia and the people of Ukraine. Bishop Sándor Zán Fábián and Lay President Béla Nagy informed members of the Convent about the recent political developments, the consequences of the mobilization and the deteriorating economic situation. They also expressed their gratitude for the manifold support coming from individual congregations and Church Districts of the member churches of HRC and the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid.

Solidarity continues. In the autumn, Partnerhilfe, the German Aid Organisation that supports Eastern European pastors, will be holding its annual meeting in Beregszász (Berehove), Sub-Carpathia. Rev. Enno Haaks, General Secretary of Gustav Adolf Werk, will be alos present. 

Though the situation in Ukraine has not changed since more than a year now, the support and solidarity received from brothers and sisters from other churches has helped the church to continue its work as a church in service to the community. 

 

Njeri Wagana Hughes

Photos: Vargosz, reformatus.hu, presbyterianireland.org 

 

 

 

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