Circular in Times of War: Stay Where You Are

Bishop Sándor Zán-Fábián, head of the Reformed Church in Transcarpathia, admonished pastors and elders to stay, even if they face massive emigration of the young generations. Taking care of the elderly left behind and internally displaced persons seeking refuge in West Ukraine is the most urgent social responsibility of the Hungarian reformed community in Ukraine. Read the circular sent to the nearly Hundred congregations.

Circular in Times of War

The situation in Ukraine has put everyone in a special mental and physical state. Spiritually, our prayers are more sincere and fervent, when we ask God for protection, peace, comfort and endurance. In physical terms, stomach and blood pressure problems, shortness of breath, caused by fear and uncertainty make the passing minutes and hours painfully slow and difficult. I cannot see into the future; I can't guess what tomorrow or the day after tomorrow will bring. It is my hope, obviously, that the armed conflict will end soon. But what I surely know is that God has a plan for everything. In him there is no change, He has the power to preserve and maintain, as we read in the first Question and Answer of the confession of our Church, the Heidelberg Catechism:

What is your only comfort in life and in death? That I am not my own, but belong— body and soul, in life and in death— to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

Even hardship, tribulation, self-doubt and the collapse of social systems can serve salvation. It all points to the fact that we do not have an enduring city her on Earth. God has prepared the kingdom of heaven for those who believe in him. We live in times when the so-called safe places are mostly gone. In the end, what remains is the church, the community, which is constituted in prayerful, true friendship and amicable relationship.

I ask everyone with love and respect, Pastors, Elders and Chief Elders, to stay in your place, remain where you are. There is a need for the Gospel, for gathering praying communities, and for the ministry we owe to those left behind. Let us care for one another, remain humane, helpful and patient.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8,28)

Bergszász/Berehove, 25th February 2022.

War is Contrary to the Will of God - Prayer for Peace

“The first victim of the war eight years ago was a Hungarian-Reformed soldier. Our congregations are far away from the war in Donbas – but our young people still have to go there as soldiers. In West Ukraine we are also affected by it. We are witnessing an exodus of the younger population from the Hungarian-speaking congregations. We have lost many members who have moved to the West because they don’t want to be part of the war. Our congregations in this poor region in Europe are bleeding dry. It is our prayer to our Lord and Almighty God that the East Slavic peoples accept one another as one family and live in peace together. That is vitally important for us and other peoples living in diaspora. As a Hungarian minority we are threatened in this dangerous situation. It is driving out of the country all those able to go. Pray for the many different nationalities in Ukraine. Pray especially for the Slavic population that they may live together in peace.”

Words of Bishop Zán-Fábián at Prayer for Peace in St Nicholas (Nikolaikirche) in Leipzig on 7 February 2021, Gustav Adolf Werk, Rev. Enno Haaks , published on the website of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe.

The Reformed Church in Trancarpathia is the oldest Protestant Church in Ukraine. It was founded in 1921, when the Sub-Carpathian region became a part of the Czech-Slovak Republic. During the Soviet era, the Church lost its legal status and many church-owned properties were seized and privatized. The structure of the Church did not exist, atheist propaganda was promoted and many pastors were deported. Eventually, the fall of the Soviet Union brought relief, and with the help of Church sponsors, schools and churches were re-opened.

The Reformed Church in Sub-Carpathia currently has around 70 000 members, most ethnic Hungarians, in nearly 100 parishes. It is organized into three Presbyteries.

It is a constituting member of the Hungarian Reformed Church, which was established in May 2009 and consists of Hungarian-speaking reformed communities in the Carpathian Basin. It is also a member church of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the World Council of Churches, the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe and the Conference of European Churches.

The Official name of the church in Ukrainian would be „Transcarpathian”, as this region lies beyond the Carpathian Mountains, seen from Kijev. In Hungarian, the commonly used term nevertheless reads “Sub-Carpathian”. They use the two terms interchangeably.