Youth are the Future of the Church

The 95th anniversary of the YMCA Transylvania (IKE) was recently celebrated at the assembly hall of the Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj- Napoca. During the ceremony, participants could remember the hard times of the period between the two World Wars, the road-searching of the youth, and the new opportunities which were given by the Regime Change. In addition to this, former IKE presidents of the past twenty-five years also gave inspirational speeches. 

Eighty-five years ago, in February of 1921, the YMCA Transylvania (IKE) was launched at the Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj- Napoca; that is why the organizers of the celebration choose this venue as a place of the commemoration.  

Béla Kató, Bishop of the Transylvanian Reformed Church District, greeted the gathered celebrators and claimed that “Károly Kós’s [a Hungarian architect, writer, and illustrator] pamphlet, “Kiáltó szó” [Shouting Voice in Hungarian], after the tragedy of Trianon, was addressed to every social class in Transylvania, including the youth.” He emphasized that not just then, but nowadays as well, it is important to find a common voice with the youth because their service and presence means the future of the Church.

Based on the model of the Hungarian Christian Youth Association, the IKE was established in those hard times when several Hungarian-populated areas were torn apart from their mother country. IKE exerted its missionary efforts between the two World Wars among the youth, spreading God’s words between them. “If we examine the different historical periods, spreading God’s words was never an easy task. However, it is important and needed because it gave hope and showed a path through the worst times for the Transylvanian Hungarian youth,” said Szilárd Tussay, youth officer of the Transylvanian Reformed Church District, in his opening speech.


With this, Tussay not only thought about the dark years of the communist era when the IKE was also banned, he also thought about the courage of those who noticed the spark of hope after 1990 and then lit it up. For those in the end of the 20th century and after, amid of the major challenges of the 21st century where the technology is constantly developing and young people have less and less free time, they are still working based on the same ideas and seek to educate the youth in the IKE. “It isn’t necessary to be afraid of change because IKE is going through permanent changes too. This won’t be stop in the future, for the thing which strengthens and sustains the youth association is that the young people make changes according to the needs of the times, while keeping their eyes set on the target in front of them, which is none other than the living out of the reformed faith in community,” points out Szilárd Tussay.

After songs by LoveWood, a Christian youth band, Zoltán Ballai, the Secretary for Finances in the Reformed Church District in Transylvania, gave a devotion, which was followed by a speech from Dezső Buzogány, a professor at a seminary in Romania who was also the first president of the re-launched IKE in 1990. “It was a great trial of strength at the restart, when the YMCA, ‘broke’ into the country, and with its foreign supports, this Association tried to build the IKE into such organization which didn’t have an ecclesiastical foundation. It managed to resist this temptation, and keeping this policy,” says Dezső Buzogány. He also thinks the association has a social mission as well – to gather young people in the Reformed Church. 


Tibor Nagy, IKE presidential successor of Péter Makkai, highlighted in his speech that it was always a big challenge for him to replace skilled colleagues if they left. He expressed his regret because there is not a well-organized youth service in the Királyhágómellék Reformed Church District such as the IKE. Attila Batizán, who is also a former president of the IKE, spoke about how young people can be inflexible in their thinking, therefore the youth associations should keep up to date. After the short speech of the current president, Károly Bartos, a memorial tablet created for the 95th anniversary of the IKE was unveiled at the assembly hall of the seminary. 

The ceremony held at the seminary marked the beginning of a series of celebrations, the highlight of which will be an August youth festival in Sovata called Change Direction! The closing event will be a music festival during Advent time, entitled I’m waiting for the Lord, in the beginning of December.

Source: Reformátusok Lapja, Botond Somogyi

Translated by Lilla László