Reformed Church in Central Europe: Mission of Reconciliation

On 22 May 2009, the Hungarian Reformed Church celebrating its constitution opened the doors to the 21st century for our communities. Christ is the future, together we follow him! This faith clearly designates Christ as the Lord of the Christian community, but admitting his superiority and trusting in his grace, leaving the exact description of the community to the future.

Together – says the faith, i.e. not alone. Those who follow Him do not live in hostility, against each other or passively, beside each other, but together, “as one body”. Preserving the strength and resilience of our witness on 22 May the Hungarian Reformed Church has the opportunity in connection with the Hungarian presidency to profess faith in a Christian future again, declaring more precisely and profoundly how it understands and reaches the spiritual community that still lives in Christ.

From 1 January 2011 one of the strategic objectives of Hungary in its position holding the presidency of the European Union is to place the issue of European minorities back on the agenda of political and public interest in Europe. Further developing the objectives expressed in the series of programmes held in 2008, The European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, the Hungarian presidency intends to accomplish the preservation of the traditional, cultural diversity of European regions in the EU as well as future support of minority traditions. Traditional cultural diversity is the type of co-existence between communities of different languages and cultures which came about prior to the migration trends of the 20th/21st centuries, and therefore all the participating groups consider themselves indigenous (autochthonous) at the scene of the co-existence. The main aspect in connection with cultural diversity – in contrast to the new multiculturalism derived from migration processes in recent times – is not the integration of immigrants but preserving the values of cultural diversity which have often co-existed for centuries (or did at one time) and preserving the identity communities that constitute the multiculturalism. In addition to supporting Eastern European cultural diversity, another objective is for Hungary to promote a new, proactive form of communication towards the region and the EU expressing dignity and the will to reconcile, and based on a credible and moral foundation to set the vision for relations between nationalities in Central Europe. In this communication our church and the Reformed Church in Hungary can be a strategic partner of the Hungarian government.

When seeking the key to the communication we have to show and process Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans in a way that expresses the common negative spiritual legacy so that it has an impact at European level and at transatlantic level, and indeed universally. For Christians (churches) in the region the most credible method is expressing and dispelling the fear that manifests itself both in the lives of individual people and in the thinking of entire national communities. By nature, fear is based on apriori, negative premonitions and stereotypes, but at the same time refers to genuine historical facts. According to this logic of war, expressing one’s own identity automatically isolates groups of other nationalities, religions and languages, thus pushing public thinking towards emotions. These trends can be perceived in all the states in the region.

The nationalities here have lived together and mixed for centuries alongside kindred values and religions. Their cultures and languages pervade each other to the extent that while distinguishable, they are almost inseparable from each other. And yet what is a productive force at everyday (micro) level can be a destructive emotion at political (mezzo and macro) level: despite the nations in the region being similar in character and tolerant in everyday life, they generally face off against each other as nationalities and in establishing states. Despite undergoing the same historical experiences, despite all having been victim to and responsible for historical injustices, with a few exceptions these attributes do not promote a community of fate, the discovery and promotion of a joint identity and the development of a federal and solidarity system, but a feeling of danger and isolation.

Fear makes us enemies, but if the grace of Jesus Christ overcomes our fear, we can recognise that we are brothers. From this perspective it is clear how strong the faith from 22 May 2009 is: Christ is the future, together we follow him! This witness means the same in all languages; Romanian, Serbian, Slovakian and Hungarian. If Christ leads the way then there can be no territorial, linguistic or cultural dividing lines, no implicit or explicit historical traumas or any fear between the people of Christ. Relying on international ecumenical forums our church can place even greater emphasis on current attempts at reconciliation.

Ádám Pásztory