God is the Same Around the World

A youth delegation from the HRC, including members from Romania, Ukraine, and Hungary, recently participated in the Canada Youth International Visitor Program of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The group of eight youth spend one week touring Canada and learning about its history, followed by one week at the Canada Youth 2016 gathering. 

As part of the Canada Youth International Visitor Program of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, together with 6 young participants from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, a Hungarian delegation consisting of eight young Hungarian Reformed Church members from Romania, Ukraine, and Hungary had the chance to visit the Province of Alberta before the Canada Youth 2016 Conference. The aim was to learn more about the service of the Canadian partner church as well as the history of the country in order to gain a wider picture of Canada. Rev Dianne Ollerenshaw, Director of Regional Ministries for the Synod of Alberta Northwest, and Matthew Foxall, Mission Trip and Youth in Mission Coordinator, were the main organizers of the program.


They helped the young delegates to understand a multitude of things about Canadian history and life, including learning about the heavy legacy of the Residential Schools in Canada and about the PCC’s dedication to the healing and reconciliation with the indigenous community today that was tied into the program with a visit to Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park. Another learning opportunity was when the group visited farms in Alberta, which showed how the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, in cooperation with the PCC and its congregations, provides assistance in crisis situations and gives a Christian response to global hunger.

During the program, the delegates had the chance to visit many PCC congregations and meet church members, who many times also accompanied the internationals’ program for a day and helped to answer many of the young delegates’ questions.

On the Sunday of July 3, the Hungarian members of the program attended worship at the Calvin Hungarian Presbyterian Church. Rev. Bertalan Bocskorás, of the Hungarian-speaking Congregation of PCC, welcomed the Hungarian Reformed youth delegates and presented the life of the congregation. On this special Sunday, Rev Tamás Németh, a member of the visiting group, gave the sermon while the rest of the group participated in the liturgy and served by singing and teaching songs, as well as conveying the greetings of the Hungarian Reformed Churches. The community lunch that followed the worship gave the HRC group a chance to meet congregation members as well as some guests from the Hungarian congregation in Toronto. During this week, Hungarians living in Calgary showed great hospitality, since most of the HRC delegates were hosted by congregation members.


Following the week in Alberta, the group then traveled to Brock University in Ontario, where the Canada Youth 2016 conference was held. Participants at CY2016 were split into three tracks based on age, which functioned on independent schedules running at the same time with the whole community coming together at times throughout the day for worship, meals, and recreation activities. Each day consisted of a mixture of small group time, music, prayer, workshops, lots of laughter, and all kinds of conversations.

Some of the participants were on the Discipleship Track, a program for those aged 18-25 that encouraged discovery conversations about vocation, discipleship, spiritual practices and community connections. The rest of the group participated in the Youth Ministry Training Track, a program for those aged 18+ designed for youth leaders to replenish the spirit, rejuvenate energy, and refine youth ministry programs. 

The schedule was tweaked a bit on Friday when everyone in attendance at CY2016 turned their focus on refugees and the current global migration crisis. Noémi Ábrám, of the HRC, says that on Friday, “We did not just have a presentation on the topic, but rather people were invited to take part in a simulation which tried to expose us to how real refugees would be treated and which process they would go through – we had the chance to walk in their shoes for a few hours. Although it was hard to simulate the real situation, as only those who live it can actually feel the hardship of it, a lot of young people were touched by it according to the conversations we had afterwards.”

The PCC’s legacy of helping refugees goes back many years. From 2006-2009 Ms. Mary Görömbey served as a PCC mission personnel in Hungary primarily working with the Refugee Ministry of the RCH, means – much of their work helped in the establishment of the Refugee Ministry. During her time in Hungary, Ms. Görömbey spent time every week helping in the Refugee Mission’s Integration Program by providing pastoral care, organizing small groups, and helping to organize events and conferences around the issues of migration and refugees.


Noémi Ábrám continues talking about her time at CY2016, saying that, “It was a unique week for spiritual refreshment. Although God’s words were preached on a different continent and in a different language, it still filled us and touched our hearts deeply. It is an incredible feeling to experience that if we are talking about God’s work, we do it in a common language. I think I can speak for the whole group that one of the deepest experiences from our week at the camp was our group discussions at the end of the day where we could share our personal ups and downs. This was the place where we could see each other’s faith and struggles and from which our own personal faith could grow. In this international group, there were six young adults from Taiwan with whom we laughed, cried, prayed, and praised God in songs. This was not the only place where our personal faith has grown, but I truly believe that, in the midst of the great crowd, God met us personally because there was time to be still, time to live our faith as a community, and to praise God with one hearth and soul. How amazing it is to experience that our God is the same everywhere we go!”

The groups time in Canada was a wonderful opportunity to see faith in action in an international context, and all those who experienced it came back to Budapest energized about the church in the wider world. The deep partnership between the PCC and the HRC is one that helps to feed the soul and nourish the body of Christ.

The members of the HRC delegation came from Ukraine, Romania, and Hungary. Represending Ukraine were Eszter Baranyi, notary of the local organization of KRISZ (Reformed Youth Organisation of Transcarpatia), Viktória Doktor, coordinator of the European Voluntary Service in Transcarpathia, and Ferenc Pallay, web editor of the Refored Youth Blog in Transcarpathia. On behalf of the Reformed Church in Romania, Lídia Demeter, Student of the Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj-Napoca, and Szilárd Tussay, general director of YMCA in Transylvania were present. Representing the RCH were Rev Tamás Németh, associate pastor of the Pozsonyi Street Reformed Congregation in Budapest, Noémi Ábrám, member of the University Chaplancy in Debrecen, and Diána Erdély, ecumenical secretary.

Article by Kearstin Bailey, based on reports from Noémi Ábrám and Diána Erdélyi

Photos by Noémi Ábrám and Ferenc Pallay