The Hungarian EU Presidency – From Reformed Perspective

The Reformed Church in Hungary had resolved to make considerable contributions to the work of Hungary’s rotating EU presidency – which has just ended – with an emphatic presence and the organisation of events related to the themes of the presidency. The following is a summary of this presence.

Asking and Offering – The RCH and the Six-Month Hungarian Presidency

“The Reformed Church in Hungary is among those who eagerly await what the country’s EU presidency, lasting six months from 1 January, shall bring for Hungarians,” said bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei. In the view of the Synod’s presiding bishop, although the Gospel does not bring about Europe, it can still provide some help, and it is this help that Reformed people need to offer. He quoted the 2011 motto of the RCH – Ambassadors of Christ –, emphasising that the motifs of asking and offering are significant: “we do not wish to dictate anything.” The words of the church leader underline the fact that the RCH, with its own special perspective, wishes to contribute to the work and success of the Hungarian EU presidency. The first solemn occasion of such a contribution was the opening worship of the Ecumenical Week of Prayer in the Budapest-Fasor Reformed Church in mid-January, which was at the same time the opening worship of the Hungarian EU presidency.

You can read more on these topics in the following articles:
Christ is the only authority
Greeting Address at the Opening Worship of the Ecumenical Week of Prayer
Prayer for Europe

Brochure, Website, Journal

The Reformed Church deemed it important to support the visibility of the Hungarian EU presidency as well as the related church contribution with the help of several publications. The RCH – as a significant member of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary (ECCH) – participated in the drafting of a publication that provided the members of the ECCH with an opportunity to introduce themselves and their areas of work. The brochure, entitled In Community for Europe, was also published in English. The extent of the Reformed contribution is apparent from the fact that a separate website – devoted to the events related to the EU presidency – was set up, with not only news and reports, but also studies on various topics. Furthermore, the quarterly journal of the HRC, Confessio, had a thematic issue on the present-day European Union.

You can read more on these topics in the following article:
You can read the booklet by clicking here.

Dialogues, Meetings – Presenting Special Values

A significant proportion of the Reformed activities during the six-month Hungarian EU presidency took the form of international discussions, consultations and meetings on various levels. These started already in 2010, as Rüdiger Noll – Director of the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), which plays an important role in the relationship of churches and the EU – visited Budapest in October, and upon his invitation a group of experts travelled to Brussels in December. In the middle of January, as part of the customary meetings between churches and EU presidencies, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met the representatives of both Hungarian and other European churches.

In February, on the invitation of the RCH, two European organisations, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) and Eurodiaconia held their annual partner meeting in Budapest with the representatives of partner churches and member organisations. There were further significant events in the second half of the Hungarian EU presidency. In May, Gusztáv Bölcskei visited Brussels on the occasion that the highest-ranking leaders of the EU, namely Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament and Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council met twenty-five European church leaders, among them the Synod’s President for Religious Matters. The Synod’s Lay President also visited the political centre of the EU: Pál Huszár, as a member of an Ecumenical delegation, was invited by Rüdiger Noll.

The final days of the rotating EU presidency were eventful as well, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held another consultation with Hungarian and other European church leaders. Also, the annual dialogue-seminar of the European Commission and church organisations located in Brussels (the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community) took place at this time. The theme of this year’s consultation was the role of churches in Roma inclusion.

You can read more on these topics in the following articles:
“Bringing Europe Closer to its People” – Churches Meet with the Hungarian EU Presidency
Churches contribute to European Roma strategies
Central European Ecumenical Discussion in Budapest
Europe as a Frame of Reference

The Roma, Volunteering, Cultural Diversity

Naturally, the above-described events, publications and meetings were not merely for their own sake, but they had their specific themes and areas of interest. The most important of these included Roma integration, cultural diversity and volunteering. Over the last few months, the RCH has finalised the foundation of a so-called “special college” (a combination of a dormitory and a centre of education) for the Roma in Debrecen. The Reformed Church wished to contribute to the development of the framework of the European Roma Strategy, and the previously mentioned partner meeting of CCME and Eurodiaconia served this purpose, where the participants had the opportunity to give recommendations in connection with the strategy. In June, the Reformed aspects of approaching the Roma were highlighted: a Roma mission consultation was held in the centre of the Synod. The main aim of this event was to provide a basis for the thinking and attitude of the Reformed community and its pastors towards the Roma.

This year the theme of volunteering is of special importance, as 2011 is the European Year of Volunteering. The most outstanding related event in the life of the Reformed community was the Bridge of Love programme in May, in which about ten thousand volunteers participated.

A May conference, organised among others by the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary, revolved around the theme of cultural diversity. The event was entitled “The Role of Churches in Social Reconciliation in East-Central Europe,” and it was held with the participation of bishops, pastors, professors of theology, historians as well as representatives of the so-called historical churches of Hungary, and Romanian, Serbian, Slovakian and Austrian churches.

You can read more on these topics in the following articles:
Can Post-Trianon Reconciliation Come About? Ecumenical conference on reconciliation in the spirit of cultural diversity
No Life is Barren – a Reformed Roma Mission conference