After seven years of observing the International Roma Day on April 4 as a festive gathering and a day of joint prayer of Roma and non-Roma alike, RCH’s Roma Ministry invited congregation to a virtual pilgrimage of prayer and praise.
Since 2010, the RCH has been organizing meetings and conferences connected to the International Roma Prayer Day, where congregations dedicated to the Roma Mission gather and pray together for Roma people in Europe. Over 300 participants came together each year from all corners of the country, to enjoy reconciled fellowship, tackle prejudices, celebrate and praise Jesus Christ together.
Although a seven-year tradition was broken and this year participants were not able to meet in person in the church of the Reformed congregation of Káposztásmegyer, in the outskirts of Budapest, as usual, still over 200 participants observed the International Roma Prayer Day on the invitation of the National Roma Ministry of RCH.
Participants were connected via internet, reflections, music and prayers were broadcasted online. Brothers and sisters joined a two hours long pilgrimage of prayer, reflection and praise from all over the country, coming from local churches of large cities and small villages alike.
The event was meant this year to offer encouragement and give hope in the days of Pandemic that is threatening and affecting Roma families and communities even more than usual. Participants prayed for health, fellowship, peace, serenity in general, and for the protection, welfare and revival of Gypsy communities around the country, in particular.
Messages, reflections and prayers, just like personal testimonies were shared by Roma and non-Roma members and pastors of RCH, including Secretary General András Gér, Rev. Eszter Dani, head of the Mission Department of RCH, Zoltán Balog, minister of the German speaking reformed congregation, and members of the voluntary network of the National Roma Ministry of RCH.
International Roma Day, marked on 8 April, is devoted to Europe's largest ethnic minority, the Roma, a predominant part of whom suffer from discrimination and isolation. This day also focuses on Roma history, culture, language and aspirations, which remain largely unknown in Europe, even though they are key to mutual understanding and can contribute to closing the gap between communities. This day is of cultural and social significance worldwide, as it seeks to raise awareness of the role of the Roma in everyday life, in addition to placing greater emphasis on the traditions preserved by the Roma. It helped a lot to attract international attention that II. Pope John Paul II in 2000 asked his followers to respect the Roma, and in 2003 the Dalai Lama lit a candle on the feast.
Since the adoption of the Gypsy Mission Strategy of our Church by the National Reformed Gypsy Mission, every year since 2014, we have organized a prayer day on the Saturday closest to the International Roma Day, which we broadcast online on April 4, 2020 due to a coronavirus emergency.
Join the prayer for love and acceptance
In celebration of the International Roma Prayer Day on April 8, 2017, the RCH was pleased to share a prayer, written in partnership with the PCUSA. The prayer aims to encourage all people to work for acceptance and love in the world like Jesus did.
In 2010, the Presbyterian Women in the USA initiated a program called “10 Days of Prayer and Thanksgiving for the Roma”. By joining in this initiative, the material written by the Presbyterian Women was used as an important resource for the Hungarian organizers in preparing the liturgy of the Prayer Day Meeting.
Our God, We come before you, divided. We are a nation that is in need of love every day. We are a nation that explores the hard path of reconciliation. We all study what it means to live, work, and play together. Our children are born openminded, and they are taught by us to accept, to reject, and to hate. We feel this responsibility! If we accept Your grace, accept the gift of redemption, then you shall awaken in us the will and the courage to be able to forgive and apologize, to be reconciled with You and with ourselves, with each other and with all creation as well. We pray for the Roma and all the people of Europe today. Lord put your blessing hand on all the children of our world. May Your Reconciling hand break down the walls that divide us. Let the will of breaking apart come to an end. In the name of Jesus, we ask you to hear the words of our pleading! Amen