Voices from a Roma Conference

Video message from the CCME conference "Justice for Roma and Sinti: a challenge for churches"

The Churches’ Commission for Migration in Europe (CCME) organized a three days conference in cooperation with the Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH). The event took place in the National Office of RCH on 9-11 March 2020. Representatives from ten countries attended the consultation focusing on the different ways of ministering among Roma. Participants came from protestant and orthodox churches and beside sharing best practices they also got inspiration from the Roma mission activities of our church.

Video message from the CCME conference "Justice for Roma and Sinti: a challenge for churches" produced by Attila Dezső, the communication manager of the National Roma Ministry of RCH.

Dr. Torsten Moritz, CCME General Secretary

The whole aspect of racism and discrimination is important, as it is very much behind and with the Roma as the biggest ethnic minority in Europe, which has been discriminated against. There's a number of churches who felt strongly about the whole issue.

Rev. Eszter Dani, Head of the Mission Department of RCH

We were able to reflect together in a very honest way. I was for example surprised about the feedbacks after my presentation about the theological foundations of our Roma Mission strategy, saying that it gave them hope.

Burkhard Paetzold, European Liaison of PC USA

To have Roma included in the audience and the discussion is a great way of not only talking about the Roma but talking with them.

Rev. Balázs Ódor, Ecumenical Officer of RCH

I deem it very important that we heard from Roma people directly what churches’ responsibility could be today. Whether addressing prejudices, community building or integration.

Father Athenagoras, Priest of the Greek Orthodox Church

I have been working in the gypsy neighbourhood in Thessaloniki, the biggest ghetto of Norther Greece for 16 years now. The activities are very interesting and they are very happy now. We can go to the center of the city and the people love to see the Roma youngsters.

Rev. Elemér Barta, Roma Ministry Coordinator of the Reformed Church in Trasncarpathia/Ukraine

We established the “Chance for Life” foundation which supports Gipsy children and organizes summer camps for them. It is encouraging to see that also in Hungary people stand on the side of Roma and support them. Without our unity and mutual support, our situation would be even worse.

Rev. Miki Kamberovic, Pentecostal pastor of a Roma church in the central of Serbia

I am a pastor of a Roma church in the central part of Serbia, where I started to plant congregations in 2003. a social NGO, called ‘Oasa’; a Roma centred oasis. The greatest joy in the ministry is when I see that people are happy, because of who they are and not because of what they can do or achieve. And this is only possible because they fell in love with God.

Dénes Gyirgyó, Roma community leader, volunteer of RCH Roma Ministry

It was great to see and experience that people from different countries and denominations attended the conference. Still, we could talk together and have honest conversations, as Christ’s followers, about issues, which matter in our everyday life and ministry. It was useful to learn from our brothers and sisters form abroad about good practices, which God laid on their hearts, and they were able to implement in their own context by his power. This encourages us, and this awareness grew during the conference, that we should solve these problems together, mutually supporting each other.

Rev. Péter Makkai, Minister of the Reformed Church in Transsylvania/Romania, Director of the Diaconal Foundation

Since nearly 8 years, together with my colleagues, we have been organizing programs supporting underprivileged children. Our ministry has connected us directly with the Roma as most of the disadvantaged children come from the Roma communities. The positive examples and good practices, which have been presented and the contributions during the conference encouraged us and me personally.

Melody Wachsmuth, Presbyterian Theologian, Mission Co-worker and Journalist

I have been living in Croatia since 2011 and I am in leadership of a Roma majority church. I also do a lot of research and writing regarding situations of the Roma churches and the relationship between Roma and Non-Roma. Some of the work, especially the work in Greece was very inspirational and very encouraging to see how empowering and creativity in work with young people can make a difference in other people's perceptions of the Roma.