In Hungary, Roma communities have been an inseparable part of society for centuries. In the life of churches, service among the Roma has always primarily meant spreading the Gospel. Over the last century, this activity has gradually been complemented with other forms of help to facilitate their integration into society, such as educational and social assistance.
The attitude of our churches towards Roma people is the same as towards any other group of people: they need to hear the message of the Gospel and experience the love of God in order to change and discover new meanings in their lives, and find their true self-identity through a relationship with God. We strive to bear witness to the love of God not only in the form of words, but also with the help of the various tools of our diaconical services, so that those in need can break out of the prison of the indigence and uncertainty that plagues them.
The church services among the Roma are special because they are centred around the community. Instead of the individualist, human rights protection-type of approach that has been prevalent for decades, we consider solidarity and the mutual respect of various communities as the opportunity for development. That is why we deem it important to enable Hungarian and Roma communities to get to know each other, through the recognition and systematisation of the work in the field of service among the Roma, and primarily within our own communities. We are committed to involve those members of the Roma communities who would like to co-operate with us in our services. In our view, education is of pivotal importance to facilitate the integration and advancement of the Roma. We believe that the strengthening of the Roma community’s diverse cultural life needs to be facilitated, and a greater awareness about Roma culture has to be achieved.
With their centuries-old experience, Hungarian churches can contribute effectively to finding solutions to the problems of the Roma on a European level. We hope that during the Hungarian EU Presidency, the European Union’s decision-makers will be made aware of the fact that this issue can only be resolved if prejudices and rigid stereotypes are left behind. Furthermore, it is only through this approach that steps can be taken to achieve a European-regulated education and social system that enhances social integration.