A “Constituting” Synod and Thanksgiving Celebration

A “Constituting” Synod and Thanksgiving Celebration

Yesterday, a rather momentous event took place in Debrecen, hosted by the Reformed Church in Hungary.

Yesterday, a rather momentous event took place in Debrecen, hosted by the Reformed Church in Hungary.

At 10a.m. a special Synod meeting was held to gain approval from the 110 voting bodies on a few issues of constitutional content, and then representative Bishops signed a formal Uniting Document.  At 4:00 an audio-visual public announcement in the Town Square let us know it was official that all of the Hungarian Districts of the Church, plus those of Ukraine, Serbia, Rumania, and the Slovakian Christian Reformed Church (1/2 of our Reformed Churches there), were now uniting across their borders!

This was a resumption of Christian fellowship interrupted in 1920 by the Trianon Peace Treaty, which sliced off two-thirds of Hungary’s land and one-third of its population and gave them away to surrounding nations.  In many instances, for years, no travel or meetings and only limited communication across those lines was allowed, even between family members and long-time friends.

This special “Constituting” Synod was attended by 2000-3000 invited delegates and guests from an impressive number of countries.  Among them were caring persons from the United Church of Christ, the Calvin Synod Conference (Hungarian) of the UCC, and the (Independent) Hungarian Reformed Church of America.  In fact, the HRCA also signed the unifying document by their special request.

A huge Communion Worship Service was held outdoors at 4:30, led by participant Bishops and a few Lay representatives.  The temperature had been punishing all day, so in addition to the 3000-4000 worshippers outdoors, another 2000-3000 of us sought shelter in the adjoining cool Large Church, where without direct leadership we all rose and sat and sang and prayed via a screened presentation of what was happening outdoors.  Nearest outside were the processed black-suited worshippers.  Inside, just as worshipful, were the colorful members of congregations, with children, sunburns, water bottles, picnic hampers, – Reformed Boy and Girl Scouts, theology student guides in green t-shirts, respectful grandma’s and wondering older men –  sitting wherever they could find space and worshipping mightily.

It seemed as if most of the town had come out for the day (Debrecen has been known as “the Rome of Hungarian Reformed-ness”).  Some groups just sat up and down the nearby streets and watched; some participated in the 2:00 hymn-singing Reformed procession (with flags) around the town.  Many others visited the many Reformed-related exhibits and performances which were available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

This all took place yesterday, May 22nd.  We’ve since heard from church members in Debrecen and Budapest who hope this will be the beginning of the geographic and political re-unification of old (pre-1920) Hungary.  Others fear that this could be an entrenchment (“separatism”, “nationalism”) in the Reformed Church of Hungary that will close it off from ecumenicity and cross-cultural Christian relations.  Certainly, this day was preceded by years of prayer and work via the Hungarian Reformed Churches Uniting and the World Hungarian Reformed Fellowship of the past several decades and facilitated now by the European Union’s encouragement of cross-border cooperation.  And perhaps this action provides a much-needed shoring up of identity for the 21% of citizens who are Hungarian Reformed, which is so desperately needed by all in this recovering post-Soviet nation.

Head Bishop, Gustáv Bölcskey, preached yesterday on a line from the Jacob story (Gen. 37:12-17) in which his father sends young Joseph out “in search of his shepherding brothers”.

Rt. Rev. Bölcskey insists that that is what we have been doing by means of the “Constituting” Synod.  We have been looking for and have found our brothers.

Participated in and reported on by Coralyn and Laslo Medyesy (UCC Delegates for the Day)

Coralyn and Laslo Medyesy
Budapest, Hungary

Laslo and Coralyn Medyesy are missionaries with the Reformed Church in Hungary, based in Budapest, Hungary.  Laslo serves as professor of theology in the Department of Theology of the Gaspar Karoli Reformed University in Budapest. Coralyn T. Medyesy serves as a teacher of Social Work and Diakonia at the Nagy Koros School.