The Reformed Church in Hungary, being a confessional church and obeying the mission call of Jesus Christ, considers mission the very nature of the church, and thus a priority. The church shall constantly present the gospel to society in words and deeds, so that the life-saving good news can be heard by those addressed:
"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
The church's mission is to lend a helping hand to those who have fallen, give a new perspective to those who have lost hope and show a new direction to those who have lost their way. Through active mission work, the Reformed Church in Hungary reaches out to every needy group in Hungarian society.
The Reformed Church in Hungary is present in various mission fields coordinated by the Mission Department of the Synod Office. Its main task is to strengthen the mission aspect in the life of Reformed congregations and to coordinate mission work on local and global levels. The Mission Office maintains a close relationship with the Reformed Mission Centre and Reformed Church Aid, and it cooperates with them on a daily basis.
The Office encourages mission initiatives in the following ways:
- supporting fields of social mission
- organising and supporting the mission programmes of congregations
- compiling lecture and publication materials
- sharing experiences
- sharing news.
One outstanding area is the Roma mission, targeting the Gypsy population in Hungary. This mission has assumed a more organised form in recent years. The coordination body of this mission is the Council of the Reformed Ministry among Roma, which was founded in 2009. In each of the four church districts, there is a coordinator responsible for Roma Ministry. In the field of world mission, the Mission Office cooperates with the Interserve international organisation, supporting the preparation of those volunteering for world mission.
Reformed Mission Centre
The Synod of The Reformed Church in Hungary founded the Reformed Mission Center (RMC) in January 2006. The aim of the Centre is to coordinate and expand the work of ministries in order to make their services available for all members of society throughout the entire country.
The mission centre coordinates the activities of all "social" missions of the church, which are the following:
There are more and more people in need who turn to the Reformed Homeless Mission for help. Three years ago there were about 400 homeless people who sought out the mission; now this number has risen to 1,500. While the mission is a part of the network of service providers in Budapest, its capacity has not changed. Despite the growing number of homeless people in the mission's care, the amount of state support has not increased. The mission is able to provide accommodation to 25 people in the summer and 42 in the winter, while its daytime shelter – where there are worship services every day – can accommodate up to 80 people a day. The Pure Spring Foundation – within the activities of the Homeless Mission of the Reformed Church in Hungary – maintains both a daytime and a nighttime shelter in Pestszentlőrinc. The foundation has ten full-time employees – two less than the previous year – and 25 volunteers to assist.
In Hungary there are 17,000 prison inmates living in incarceration. Those who undergo a change are able to lead a life based on faith not only among the prison walls but also after their release. Also, the inmates who have found God are characterized by good behaviour. For this reason, it is important that a national day of prayer for inmates was held for the first time. One hundred twenty prisoners from all over the country gathered in Baracska National Prison. The inmates also took part in charity work: they offered 3,000 food tins, over 6,000 items of clothing (coats, shirts, trousers) to the poor in Hungary and Transcarpathia (Ukraine), which were delivered to those in need by the staff of RMC. The eleven Reformed pastors working in Hungarian prisons are in contact with some 8,000 prison inmates.
Marriage and Family Counseling Ministry
The Marriage and Family Support Service is an institution of Christian caretakers that was founded in 1991. Its services include children, adult and family therapy as well as pre-abortive crisis management guidance. And while it may be a Christian organization, all are welcome regardless of religious views.
The Support Service organizes courses and trainings at the request of congregations and secular groups. The Service is represented in Starpoint Reformed Youth Festival and Week of Marriage for example.
There are periods in every life when external help is needed to get through hard situations. In turn, this helps you better understand yourself while becoming a more effective problem solver. This self-recognition gives you the tools to get through difficult times and find better answers during stressful situations.
The Support Service offers individual and ministerial counseling in the form of lifestyle management, spiritual guidance and individual therapy. Lifestyle management discusses individual's personal experiences through small-group conversations in order to help others consider solutions from a different perspective. The Service's spiritual guidance supports those going through life, religious or existence troubles, and its aim is to discover answers together in a Christian way. Individual therapy focuses on assimilation after traumas, for example: divorce, bereavement, emotional life problems and pre/post-abortive crisis management.
Another important service offered is couple and family consultation. Family therapy approaches these relationships as a system. The sub-systems of the family and the individual's family relations are the main focus of the therapy. It tries to set up communication and interaction with rewards that impact changes that have occurred within the relationship.
The first problem that the family therapy addresses is pre-abortive crisis management. A nurse will meet with expectant mothers to give them information regarding support they can receive from the state, society or the Church, which can help guide future parents through serious crisis situations.
Another family issue is children's psychological care and ministerial youth counseling. This addresses behavioural problems, studying and goal accomplishment issues and psychological problems. Children and youth between the ages of 3-18 are welcome.
Ministry to Alcoholics
The Alcohol Rehabilitation Ministry was founded by Reverend József Siklósi in 1981. It is a ministry that provides help for those suffering from alcoholism and their families.
After its founding, the very first meetings were held in different church conference rooms. Principally they tried to help them through the way of the Bible, and they got a lot of help from Christian doctors as well.
After the death of József Siklós, Zoltán Balog took over and led the service with his wife until 2006. They offered rehabilitation, prevention and post-rehabilitation services. During their service, the Blue Cross Association was established again and the became the Blue Cross Rehabilitation Center in Dömös. The close relationship and the coopearation of the two organizations is what made the Alcohol Rehabilitation program so well known.
Prevention works: The ministry works with summer camps, but mainly in high schools through seminars and classes. It helps the youth see through a Christian way of thinking that they don't need such things like alcohol. The life experience and testimony of those recovering from alcoholism is an important part of the prevention service.
Rehabilitation: The aim of the ministry is to help not only addicted people, but their whole family as well. Families are encouraged to participate in the programmes too, but instead of the alcohol addiction they can meet Gods love and freedom. In 2006, it began to offer support for nicotine addicts, people suffering from depression and other addictions. However, drug users can find support from different church institution.
Post-Rehabilitation: The programme continues to support recovering patients returning home after weeks of rehabilitation. In the country ,we have 40 places where addicts can find help. The group rehabilitation leader and reverend together help strengthen the souls of the „patients." The service is ecumenical, where more sect gives place for the groups, with service of their reverend.
Annualy they reach 3-5 people personally, through the programmes in Dömös, in groups, phone calls and emails. Usually volunteers help their work.
Thanks to this service, there were Alcoholic Rehabilitation programs started in Trannsylvania, northern Hungary and in Ada.
Since the beginning of the 1990s the Reformed, the Roman Catholic, the Lutheran and the Greek Orthodox hospital chaplaincy have been improving in Hungary; not only in the church service but also in the state care institution. It seems to be a slow process: from recognising the need to full cooperation.
Health Care Chaplaincy of the Hungarian Reformed Church
It is important to point out, that human beings should not only be treated on a physical or psychological level but also on a spiritual level. This is why it is necessary to emphasize the importance of the spiritual dimension of healthcare as well, which is the responsibility of the work of chaplaincy in the system.
Although there are centuries-old traditions of pastoral care among the sick – the spiritual care was prohibited or illegal for 40 years in Hungarian hospitals. After 1990, when the hospital doors opened up again in front of the church services, numbers gave a warm welcome. In that time parish leaders reorganized hospital worships all over the country. Later full and part time chaplains started their counselling and service. Their number has been increasing ever since.
Establishing pastoral care and counselling in the health care system is not an easy or rapid process. Pastoral psychological education (including gaining knowledge of the system and a critical attitude towards it), training programs for chaplains (for example they should be able to communicate their aims and the specific nature of their job toward the workers of the health care system and the wide society effectively) and supervision successfully helped the "construction."
Recently when the whole health care system has been changing in Hungary - there are 33 Reformed chaplains in 26 cities. We try to work in ecumenical teams.
The Hospital Chaplaincy belongs to the Reformed Mission Centre, which coordinates the church's different mission services in society.
The present structure of our services:
There is a full spectrum of involvement from complete isolation to total integration. Chaplaincy should be integrated in the healthcare system, but there is no golden rule for the degree of integration: this is dependent on the people involved and the context. In any case, there must be a guarantee of the particular confidentiality linked to chaplaincy.
There are 3 types of chaplaincy in the Reformed Church, depending on the financial supporter of the position.
- The status is run by the hospital – the professional pastoral care and counselling is supported and accepted by the institution and available for everybody.
- The regional church runs the status – pastoral care is offered mainly for the members of different Reformed congregations – but it is available for others too, if they need help.
- The status is run by the local church – the chaplain organises devotions and gives help on request.
Pastoral care in the health care system means:
- Spiritual care, counselling patients, family members and staff.
- To concentrate on the spiritual dimension of health-care, and make this dimension fully recognised
- Helping people to make a connection between their own life story and stories of sacredness or human wisdom in relation to meaning and hope.
- Participation in institutional work as an ethical and spiritual care provider.
- To enable the health-care system to become more person-centered
- Chaplaincy as specialists in the spiritual dimension, has the responsibility to take care of the whole person
- Cooperation with other churches, as well as civil organisations.
Our plans for the future:
- Improving professional pastoral care – we would like to demonstrate and emphasise its effect on care giving in hospitals and the congregations.
- Pastoral care for hospital staff as an essential part of the institution (for example: "burn-out" prevention)
- Strengthen the volunteers' work for visiting the sick – in hospitals and congregations
- Increasing theological students' interests for chaplaincy
Many travellers arrive at the airport filled with anxiety, in an upset state of mind, as they are forced to give up control over their lives. In an altitude of ten thousand metres, somewhere between the earth and the sky, they have no choice but to rely on their fellow human beings. Rev. Andrea Krasznai is available at the airport to have pastoral counseling with travellers and employees, and she also meets various foreign and Hungarian groups and delegations. She prays and blesses those who embark on a journey.
Ministry to the Hearing Impaired
Workers of the Reformed Deaf Mission reach out to hearing impaired Reformed people all around the country, cooperating with local congregations to integrate these disabled people into the life of the community. In Budapest and Debrecen, there are regular worship services for the hearing impaired. Pastoral services are carried out in schools for them in Budapest, Eger, Debrecen, Vác and Szeged, with special preparatory classes for confirmation, with a religion camp organized at the end of every school year. It is a great achievement that out of four schools for the hearing impaired over 500 students joined the activities of the Bridge of Love – Reformed Volunteering Days in the Carpathian Basin.
Learning by Playing
Within the programme "Learn by playing, play by learning," the project of RMC helped 300 hearing impaired and deaf children in the Transtibiscan and Cistibiscan regions. For the organization of skills and creativity development sessions, RMC earned over 23 million HUF. During the opening of the programme, there were eight brand new bicycles – purchased by the Reformed Church – to be tried out by hearing impaired youngsters from Debrecen. With the help of professionals, they could learn about traffic rules. Participants of the skills and creativity development events came from special schools of Debrecen, Szeged and Eger. The aim of these courses, competitions and contests was to develop visual, self-expression, problem solving, and conflict management skills of hearing impaired children, and consequently, make it easier for them to understand school material. Their dexterity is also developed, and their perception is sharpened. The children participating in the project are not taught in integrated schools, therefore, it is crucial for them to gain experience in extracurricular activities without discrimination; experience that comes naturally to their unimpaired peers.
Telephone and Skype Counselling
The aim of telephone counselling is to deal with crises immediately – anyone who needs support or guidance can call over the phone. The service, available every day between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., is more accessible to the older generations. It seems that there is a growing need for a free, night time service. Many people have no time to think about their worries during the day, but in the evening or at night they are overwhelmed by doubts and anxieties. They need someone to turn to, and this is why the idea of Internet counselling came about. This service is a resting place in the virtual world, where professionally experienced and committed volunteers await people's calls. Skype counselling is available from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. There are 13 trained volunteers in telephone counselling and 18 more conducting Skype counselling. The slogan of the service is: "love is attentive."
Mission to the Visually Impaired and Blind
Those who are visually impaired or blind are reluctant to go out, they are reserved and rarely seek the company of others. The mission for the blind wishes to change all that through its training called Basic Rehabilitation Group of the Blind, where they teach non-blind people the best ways to accompany a blind person. In 2011, "Wednesday night talks" was launched, during which visually impaired people are visited so that they can participate in worship and pastoral care. The mission for the blind holds weekly worship services in the Nursing Home of the National Institution for Blind People, and provides religious education in the Elementary School of the Blind. A great emphasis is put on involving our Reformed communities in the activities of the mission for the blind. A good opportunity for this was 15 October, the official White Cane Day, which was celebrated in Boldva, where the mission could demonstrate the services in which they are engaged.
Building a Bridge
The Leprosy Mission in Hungary started forty years ago on World Leprosy Day and still functions as the only Leprosy Mission in the Central Eastern European region.
Since the establishment of our mission, the circumstances in Hungary and all around the world have changed a lot and that is the reason why the Leprosy Mission in Hungary (LMH) had to take another shape as well – says Rev. Márta Riskó, director of LMH.
“Nowadays, just like the western countries, we also raise funds and create healthcare projects to help. Twenty years ago, this was beyond possibility.”
Rev. Márta Riskó explained: The number of LMH supporters and volunteers significantly increased in the last couple of years. It is gratifying to see more and more people in a country without a leprosy colony try and help out leprosy-affected people living in Africa, India or South East Asia. This describes the Hungarian’s open-minded and helpful characters really well.
In 1974, Károly Dobos made the decision to support the work of the Leprosy Mission from Hungary. Through donation, anyone can help the leprosy-affected people overcome their physical obstacles and make a living. The money is used to get the necessary medicines, vaccines, food, materials for surgery or even to organize education programs.
“The most important aim we want to achieve right now is building a new bridge to reach and inspire the younger generation as well. We organized a drawing competition for children and received 380 applications.”
LMH use the donations for two projects. One is operating in India – the country in which more than 80 percent of leprosy-affected people live – and supports a hospital in Delhi. The other project started two years ago in the southern region of China and supports rehabilitation in the region.
“Drugs are a symptom that life is not going very well”
The Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) began the Reformed Thrown Youth Rescue Mission (KIMM) 34 years ago, and has been active ever since. The first rehabilitation home opened at Ráckeresztúr in 1986 by the initiative of a young pastor, Rev. Eszter Victorné Erdős. From the beginning, Christian faith and commitment has been the foundation on which the Mission has operated.
Since 2015, there are five rehabilitation homes in service to youth:
- Kallódó Ifjúságot Mentő Misszió Drogterápiás Otthona (Ráckeresztúr),
- Fiatalkorúak Drogterápiás Otthona (Ráckeresztúr),
- Válaszút Misszió (Budapest),
- Újváros Drogambulancia (Dunaújváros)
- Tisztás Közösségi Hely (Budapest).
KIMM began as a mission focused on drug rehabilitation; however, the Mission has grown and expanded to accept young men with various substance and/or behavioral addictions, including alcohol and video game addictions. The main goal of the rehabilitation homes is to help people suffering from various addictions start a new life. The Mission is committed to healing, treating and representing the interests of the young men taking part in the program. The rehabilitation homes work with the young men, providing a place to stay for approximately one year during which the men must learn how to take responsibility. The men work to develop their skills, starting with house chores, including cooking, cleaning and maintaining.
The program consists of an initial probation phase and three primary phases, ending in a so-called discharge phase. Participants complete successive program phases by acquiring certain competencies and gradually assuming increasingly complex responsibilities. In the final phase, residents are put in charge of organizing daily gatherings, monitoring and controlling procedures, making pertinent decisions, and ensuring smooth communication between members of the community.
As part of the Mission, in 2015, KIMM opened Adna Café. The café was created to provide a universal referred and referenced prevention, offering community for lonely youth, giving technical help for people who have drug problems and creating a safe environment for abstaining addicts. The café is a symbol that there is a future and much hope for healing.
The name “Adna” means “Pleasure in God”
“With the help of youthful social places, we want to bring the pleasure of sobriety into fashion and guarantee tasty, healthy foods, drinks, personal discussions, communal events, sober parties and self-help programs. One important element of the prevention is that the programs of the café will be organized together with its visitors.” – Eszter Erdős, leader of KIMM
The Centre promotes the work of mission groups currently operating and provides them with assistance in their management and administrative work. The Centre also supports mission groups with professional guidance in their fields of operation.
The Diaconal Office aims to provide a wide range of support to congregations and diaconal institutions. It offers not only professional and methodological help, but assistance in assembling and managing grant applications as well. The Office also deals with adult training programmes. The Refugee Ministry of the RCH is located here.
The Youth Ministry of the RCH has different programmes and organisations to reach young people and motivate them to take part in the life of the church. The new-formed Youth Assembly, a forum of reformed young people, with the aim of proclaiming the everlasting God, focuses on current issues and topics of the new generation.
More about Youth Ministry
The Youth Ministry of the Reformed Church in Hungary has two main branches.
- The Ecumenical Youth Foundation collaborates with the youth organisations of the historical churches, and together they reach out to young people outside the church in the form of nationwide programmes. One of these is the "72 Hours Without Compromise" programme, which involves volunteer work, while the other is "Common Point," a mission that targets young people attending music festivals.
- Within the church, there is the nationwide, multigenerational Bridge of Love volunteer event offers a great opportunity to reach young people as well as the Starpoint youth summer festival, which is organised every other year and attracts thousands of people from both inside and outside the church.
At universities, colleges and secondary schools, various mission-related events take place. An important venue of youth life is the university church.
The Youth Office coordinates the life of youth both within the country borders and in the whole Carpathian Basin. It provides youth organisations with a platform to communicate. The Youth Office encourages the church to reach out to those young people who seek spiritual truths. It also organises professional trainings and meetings with the participation of applicants from all over the Carpathian Basin.
The Office aims to maintain ecumenical relationships. It is in charge of managing any shared youth mission projects. It also represents the church and its interests in the communication with the state regarding youth issues. The Office aims to synchronise the work of youth organisations, so that their message gets to the people they are targeting: youth both inside and outside the church.
Starpoint Reformed Youth Festival
The best place for young adults to meet, play, discuss, worship God and hear good music! A community of more than 3,700 participants!
Starpoint is a place where young Reformed Christians meet, and where participants learn what keeps the church in motion, what fills it with energy. Here, the youth of the Carpathian Basin can experience what it means to live in a community based on our faith in God. Starpoint is always a message-focused spiritual event. Although it may seem like a festival, it is not designed to crowd out other festivals.
Starpoint is a religious event organised by the church; one aspect of the RCH's youth work. It aims to show that despite all rumours there is life inside the church. There is a community that is inclusive and not exclusive, which accepts and does not reject, and which appreciates and inspires you.
As an open youth event, Starpoint aims to present the diversity of the Reformed Church. Preceding the festival, preparatory work is open for anyone who would like to offer help. It is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen one's faith in the course of cultural and community-building events where young people can choose from a large selection of educational and training programmes. It is an experience that will enrich every participant's life at home, in their workplaces or in the congregations they serve.
The two main pillars of Starpoint are the morning lectures followed by small conversation groups and the evening worship services. Besides these programmes, there are several other morning worship programmes, spiritual, cultural and sport activities. Training is offered in areas such as small group leadership and communication, so that later on, these young people can participate in the youth work of their own congregations.
For more visit the Starpoint English website
Hungarian Reformed Elder's Association
The goal of the Hungarian Reformed Elder's Association is to help elders of the Hungarian Reformed Church to arrive at their faith in the saviour, Jesus Christ, and enhance to meet the requirements of laws created by the Reformed Church in Hungary. The Elder's Association wants to achieve this goal as a social organization registered as a legal person based on the tenets of the Bible, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Second Helvetic Confession.
According to the law of the Reformed Church in Hungary, in cooperation with every declared Hungarian Reformed person but especially elders, the Elder's Association strives to achieve the following:
- Helping elders find their faith and strengthen it
- Preparing to do faith deepening services for the congregation
- Preparing to invite people into the congregation who are not yet, or no longer, members
- Promoting relations between the elders in different congregations, with special regard to relations with the pastors, as the president of presbytery
- Organizing conferences, trainings, further trainings and other spiritual occasions as well as assisting/supporting congregations or dioceses in organizing such events. In addition, creating and publishing educational resources, periodical publications and newsletters at cost
- Beyond the borders of Hungary, building and maintaining relations primarily with elders, elder associations and religious organizations of Hungarian congregations of the General Convent, the Hungarian Reformed World Federation and the Synod of the Hungarian Reformed Churches, as well as with each Reformed church, and elders of their congregations
- Participating in the work of Hungarian Reformed Church and expressing opinion if requested, as far as possible
- Promoting the Hungarian nation as members of the nation living in a place appointed by God
- Financial support/aid to other persons and organizations according to specific regulations
One of the goals of the Elder's Association is to awaken the faith of elders within congregations. This is done through international, national and diocesan conferences organized by a collaboration of Elder's Association members. Another aim is to aid in the elders' work through centrally organized trainings. Building relationships between elders of different congregations is yet another focus that is accomplished with the sharing of information between local organizations. And finally, the Elder's Association wants to serve as a missionary to congregations by sharing educational resources and other publications.
Hungarian Reformed Women's Association
After the political change in 1989-1990, four women pastors re-established the National Women’s Association that had been created in 1944.
Read more in the article: “The Lord, let me serve Him”