It was in one of Hungary’s oldest Reformed churches, in Miskolc-Avas, that Dániel Pásztor was inaugurated as the twentieth bishop of the Cistibiscan Reformed Church District. The celebratory Sunday worship was an opportunity to express gratitude for the past and highlight the task for the future: preach the Word under all circumstances.
Last Sunday afternoon, Dániel Pásztor was inaugurated as bishop of the Cistibiscan Reformed Church District in the Reformed church of Miskolc-Avas. Rev. Pásztor is replacing his predecessor, József Csomós, for a six-year term. The new church leader has been a pastor for three decades in Sajóvelezd and Dubicsány, both located in Borsod County.
Equipping those who have been called
In his inauguration address, Dániel Pásztor said: he can only hope for God’s grace and love, for He allows him to be His servant, and uses him as bishop to help build His kingdom. Rev. Pásztor pointed out that God never calls those who are already equipped; He equips the ones called to serve.
These days the truth of God’s Word and the divine order are frequently questioned in a variety of ways. It is our duty to speak the eternal truths of the Word loud and clear, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us stay quiet when the time is right for silence, but let us speak up with courage and love when God moves us to do so, he added.
The new Cistibiscan bishop expressed his view that the most important mission of the church is to spread the Gospel, and through that, to save people’s lives. “The church has never had and nor should it ever have any other duty than to make disciples of others through spreading the Gospel. This mission is a mighty privilege and responsibility.”
Rev. Pásztor believes that as bishop he can only be a guardian and a governor if he himself is guided by the Lord, if he asks for guidance from above on a daily basis in order to make the right decisions. He concluded his inauguration speech with the motto of the Cistibiscan Reformed Church District, from the Book of Revelation: “Fear God and give him glory” (Rev 14:7).
Preaching the Word under all circumstances
It is not always necessary to speak up, but when we read the imperative “Speak!”, it means, teach us the Word of God; this is what pastors have been tasked with – pointed out Zoltán Balog, Ministerial President of the Synod of the Reformed Church in Hungary, in his sermon, quoting from the Acts: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you” (Acts 18:9-10).
Rev. Balog explained that today there is an intellectual struggle underway, and the duty of spiritual leaders is to seek out those whom God has called to serve Him. In metropolises and small villages alike, we must see and appreciate even the smallest of communities.
The Ministerial President reminded that, according to the Second Helvetic Confession: “The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God”, and went on to encourage Dániel Pásztor with the following words: “There are times of tailwind and times of headwind. You should just keep on speaking and preaching, because this intellectual struggle has to be fought out.”
Acting as friends for a common cause
“We are neither the beginning, nor the end of the church,” said Zoltán Balog, greeting the newly inaugurated church leader after the sermon.
On behalf of his fellow bishops, the Ministerial President reminded Rev. Pásztor of the solid spiritual foundation that the new bishop brought from home. “Similarly, we pass on faith, hope and love in our two significant communities, in the Presidium of the Synod, and in the General Convent, the governing body of Reformed church leaders from the Carpathian Basin.”
The church is not ours
József Csomós, former bishop of the Cistibiscan Reformed Church District drew an analogy between the loneliness of deep sea divers and that of bishops. In his greetings, he expressed his gratitude for the work Dániel Pásztor had been doing as his former deputy. He reminded those present that God definitely has plans for the new church leader. “The community of the church district trust you, and I am pleased that you have become my successor.”
On behalf of partner churches, there were greetings from Tamás Fabiny, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Hungary, Greek-Catholic Bishop Atanáz Orosz, Priest Ferenc Juhász, Pastoral Vicar of the Archdiocese of Eger, and Zsolt Markovics, Chief Rabbi of Miskolc, all recalling personal memories and offering words of wisdom for the new bishop’s future service.
Greetings from the Prime Minister
“May the new head of the church district be able to further the heritage of his great Reformator predecessors, princes, teachers, preachers of Sárospatak and everyday believers, in this part of the Hungarian world, which is rich both in historical struggles and culture,” said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in his greeting letter, read by Zoltán Fürjes, Deputy Minister of State for Relations with the Church and Ethnic Communities.
The PM, making note of the Day of National Unity, praised the role of the Hungarian Reformed community in “strategically serving the unification of the nation beyond borders.”
Support in daily life
“Jesus Christ asked his flock to follow his example, spread the Good News, preach God’s message even if they come up against obstacles. This imperative is still valid in 2021. The methods and obstacles may have changed, but the teachings of the Bible must still be followed,” said Boglárka Bánné Gál, who considers a bishop’s service to be “the embodiment of Christ’s speech.” The Chair of the General Assembly of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County expressed her gratitude for the fact that we live in a country where we do not need to hide our faith or our religious affiliation and we can experience divine providence, which is our greatest support in life.
In his speech, Pál Veres, Mayor of Miskolc praised the role of the Reformed Church, which contributes to the expansion of diversity and values of the city with its programmes, charity initiatives and educational institutions. He added that the municipality deems it of special significance to maintain good relations with the Reformed community. The mayor expressed his conviction that Dániel Pásztor is a charismatic, devoted leader who promotes small communities, and his leadership may contribute to further development.
The linden of Velezd
Mihály Kató, Chief Elder of Dániel Pásztor’s Reformed congregation in Sajóvelezd, Borsod County, recalled thirty years of service. “You have lead us onto God’s road week after week. Your relationship with the congregation is based on brotherly love and respect. In front of our church there is a large linden tree that is in bloom as we speak. My wish for you is this: may you be like that tree; your deep roots are represented by our small congregation, and on the branches growing from your straight trunk, your work as bishop shall be the flowers.”
Translated by Erzsébet Bölcskei