A Hungarian minister has taken up a new post in Shetland where the church is undergoing a radical transformation to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Rev Tamas Bodis will be working mainly with congregations on the west side of the islands but will also be involved in the larger life of the presbytery.
The 39-year-old, who has moved with his wife, Rev Emoke Rozgonyi, and their “peerie” children, Julia, Villoro and Botond, said he was looking forward to helping with the reform process.
Rev Tamas Bodis and his wife Rev Emoke Rozgonyi
Rev Dr Frances Henderson, Presbytery of Shetland transition minister, said the arrival of the family is a source of “great excitement and they have so much to contribute”.
Mr Bodis said: “After 11 years of service with the Reformed Christian Church in Slovenia, we had to step back to see where God will lead us.
“So we prayed for a place where we can work and study in a team for a year.
“When God showed us this place, we were impressed by how brave people are in Shetland as they are willing to face up to problems and are working to have a future.
“I hope we can learn from them and help them on this difficult journey.”
Dr Henderson said the couple, who were introduced at a special service in St Paul's Church, Walls on Friday, were experienced in ministering to small and scattered rural churches.
“We are delighted to welcome them and their three children, and hope that this will be the beginning of a friendship which will extend far beyond their year in Shetland,” she said.
“The Church is part-way through their process of radical change, as we seek to make one parish out of 13 and to make a new presbytery with Aberdeen.
“As we reshape and remake our traditions for our own time and place, Tamas and Emoke will bring a valuable perspective as well as two extra pairs of hands.
“And we hope that, at the end of their time here, they might also take some of our ideas back to Hungary and Slovenia.”
Rev Dr Frances Henderson, who was originally brought up in South Lanarkshire, on a hill farm just outside the village of Crawford, is no stranger to a life carved out in the countryside.
The Reformed Church in Slovenia is closely linked to the Reformed Church in Hungary.
Rev Ian Alexander, secretary of the World Mission Council, said it is a “delight” to welcome to the family to Shetland.
“The Church of Scotland has had a long and historic connection with the Reformed Church in Hungary,” he added.
“This is a visible embodiment of a long connection – students first started coming from Hungary to study and work with the Church in Scotland in 1865 and the link continues until today.”
Rev Ian Alexander, secretary of the World Mission Council
Mr Alexander said the couple have the support and blessing of their Bishop in the Reformed Church in Hungary.
“They will have an opportunity to share their experiences from leading a missional congregation in Slovenia and look to learn from the exciting new developments in Shetland,” he added.
“It will be a wonderful opportunity for them to get to know the people of Shetland and minister amongst them, as well as sharing their skills and insights with the congregations and communities.
“It will also prepare them for whatever will be the next stages of their ministries.”
Source: Church of Scotland's website