In less than a month, the Starpoint Youth Festival will begin, this time without international participants due to the Pandemic. Main theme will be freedom. A report from the press conference.
The largest Reformed festival in the Carpathian Basin awaits young people with more than a hundred programs in Debrecen at the end of July. This is the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic that Reformed youth can meet in large numbers. But this is not the only reason why the theme of this year's Starpoint is freedom, as it was announced at the press conference in Budapest last Wednesday.
“Every house has at least one door. On the Reformed Church the door open to young people is the Starpoint, which tells us: the Church is waiting for you. But the Starpoint is also important for those inside the church, because those who attend the meeting can experience how many of us there are and it is good to be together. In a local church there may be only four or five young people, but at the Starpoint here there are thousands worshiping and celebrating God together. The awareness that we share the same faith is a powerful experience. Our goal is that there is no young person in Hungary who has not heard that it is Christ who grants us true inner freedom. We will witness this for young people, in the language of young people, but there will be more: the youth shall experience that Christianity at large, and the Reformed community concretely, is not an abstract dogma, but a way of life in which it is possible to live together happily, liberated and serenely", said Bishop Zoltán Balog, pastoral president of the Synod of RCH.
The Church leader stressed that the youth meeting will not celebrate foolish liberty or licentiousness, but true freedom from within, which will have an impact on the world. He added that a third of the participants will come from outside the country, Hungarians from abroad are welcome this year too. However, for the time being, all participants must register and have a certificate of immunity - for those under 18, it is sufficient if the adult accompanying them has the document. “Starpoint is a church event. When we reach the requested level of vaccination, the government will also introduce new rules, and we will remove this clause.” The Bishop encouraged young people over 12 to get vaccinated, so they can to protect themselves and their environment.
Videoreport of reformatus.hu (in Hungarian)
The organisers are also taking care to ensure stricter hygiene conditions than ever before, with an increase in the number of restrooms, hand sanitising stations and as many of the programs as possible being held outdoors. Almost half a thousand volunteers will help to ensure that everything is run safely. “They have turned up in greater numbers and at a faster pace than ever before,” revealed Edina Prikryl, coordinator of the Starpoint Festival. “The pastoral care team is particularly determined to help young people discover how to live their inner freedom in the face of external constraints,” she added. The message of freedom was not inspired by the pandemic, however, as it had been agreed upon much earlier in the discussions of the organising team and in the theme song composed by the Starpoint Band, which became the official song of the meeting, she explained. And she attributes the fact that the theme of the meeting was formed before the big lock-down to God's inspiration. “The past year and a half has deepened the need for the meetings even more, especially among young people, who must have found it extremely difficult to go so long without personal connection with their peers.”
The venue of the tenth Starpoint will again be the University of Debrecen between 27 and 31 July. Among the speakers will be Emőke Tapolyai, a clinical psychologist, who will talk about fear and loneliness, and Szabolcs Szikszai, a blogger, who will talk about freedom. The organisers are also preparing lectures on psychology, sensory games and sports programs. There will also be panel discussions on other issues of interest to the age group: finding a partner, choosing a career or climate change. Participants can also choose from a range of sports activities, learn about the different mission fields of RCH and, for the first time this year, decide whether to reflect on the keynote presentations as part of a small group discussion or through an individual prayer walk. The evening entertainment will be provided by the leading figures of the Hungarian popular music scene, including Kowalsky meg a Vega, Irie Maffia, Aurevoir and Béla Pintér.
The alcohol-free parties are also a great experience for the bands performing, added the event coordinator. At the press conference, songwriter and singer Béla Pintér gave a taste of the songs to be performed at the festival. The performer said that he would like to show who he believes in not only on stage, but also in his whole life. “I would like to share some thoughts between songs at the Starpoint and I would like to be there long before the concert starts, talking to the young people. The example whom I follow is Jesus, who would still blend in and share fellowship with the young people today.” As for what he would share with them about the freedom he has experienced, the singer said, “Anyone who has ever been in captivity can really enjoy liberation and freedom. I was a prisoner, but Christ set me free. So freedom is not obvious or automatic. I can feel where I came from and what I have become because Jesus said: the door is open, you leave your cells.” Freedom can be valued for this reason, he added. “In the last year or so we have seen that one's plans and dreams can be shattered in a second, and sometimes you just struggle to survive. The most important lesson for me in this was that God is God in all circumstances. As a friend of mine who works in agriculture mentioned: nature remained just the same, while everything stood still. The trees were in blossom, it was time for the fruit to come in. God is like that: his love is not put on hold; his mercy is not tied to an immunity certificate. We can come to him regardless of the circumstances, he remains the same, and the inner freedom he gives us makes us balanced.”
Translated by Réka Komáromi, proofread by Claire Weihe. For more information about the Starpoint Reformed Youth Festival visit the English website of the event.