Life in a Seminary

Life in a Seminary

[This is the text of a part of a Student Calendar Commentary, originally written by Andras Bolcsfoldi, Students’ Spiritual Adviser. It was translated by Laslo Medyesy, Global Ministries’ mission personnel serving the Reformed Church in Hungary.]

[This is the text of a part of a Student Calendar Commentary, originally written by Andras Bolcsfoldi, Students’ Spiritual Adviser. It was translated by Laslo Medyesy, Global Ministries’ mission personnel serving the Reformed Church in Hungary.]

Last year was a year of “community building,” not only in the church but in our school as well – even though every year is dedicated to that.  To experience “community” life here is at least as important as later, in our congregations, so we try to organize programs which allow students to know that fellowship and thus, later, we hope, can help it to flourish in their larger communities as we do it here in our smaller setting.  The ways to build community are spiritual (which we have ample opportunity to practice in that every day we have worship services and prayer meetings).  Also, many of us are active in various youth programs, most of which are Reformed in nature, (such as church congregations, the Reformed University Youth organization, and the Hungarian Evangelical Christian Student Association), and others regularly serve in their local churches or elsewhere when asked, doing youth work.

As a student body, we celebrate our national and denominational holidays with appropriate respect, i.e., October 6th (Day of the 1849 Martyrs), October 23rd (the 1956 Revolution), Reformation Day, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, March 15th (the 1848 Revolution against the Hapsburgs), etc.  Also, we have recurring celebrations each year, like the “Quiet Days” at the opening of each semester, the introduction of first year students, “the storks,” at the Annual Stork Evening, soccer games which fill whole evenings and in which every class participates – sometimes even against the Faculty, the usual December 6th Mikul<s (Santa Claus equivalent) evening, Advent art projects-making, the Advent agape meal for students and Faculty, our Film Club, and our Game Nights.  For our Literary evenings we invite different guests, among whom this year was the writer, Mada Szab, who was just having her 89th Birthday and we celebrated with her!  Also, we had an evening thanks to the assistance of the S<ndor ;goston Foundation, when Veronika Nagy showed us films on the condition of Transylvanian Reformed Church life.

We often have lecture series on topics with conversation related to the married life of clergy, etc.  We had a number of active clergy who came to share with us regarding the challenges of time-management and scheduling, and shared their joys as they answered our questions.  We had the area Bishop, Rt. Rev. Istv<n Szabó, in for a number of evenings and discussed with him the life and troubles of our District.

Especially colorful occasions are our “theology days.”  During our trips to congregations we have many positive experiences as we see ‘in situ’ the collective life of the church and the ways each minister “ministers.”  Meeting new congregations is always a joy, and these meetings have profound effects on a student’s view and understanding of ministry.  Faculty members often come along with us on these trips and provide the sermons.  Our students are very enthusiastic in their participation in these events, providing programs, helping, organizing, etc.  It is now a firm tradition that every year every student joins in a least one of these trips, and some do more.  The “theology” visits are especially helpful for the students because they leave behind the academic walls and enter into the field of practice which awaits them at the end of their (six years of) studies. 

Therefore, we are most grateful to every congregation that invites us for a “theology day” and we ask them to do so again because we are glad to go to them.

At the Starpoints Conference (the National Christian Youth gathering), there was a special exhibition called The Chessboard Walk which was run by our students.  We offered this same program in a Valley of the Arts event, and the same was used for a “church days” celebration in Germany as the official Hungarian reformed Church contribution.  It consists of material aimed at non-churched youth, those who don’t know the language of the faith.  Attempting such a new mission form is definitely useful for our students and their future work.

Great anticipation preceded the Chessboard Walk which was dreamed up and carried through by our Budapest Seminary students.  (The success of our previous “Our Father’s Prayer Garden” caused many to expect a quality similar to what our students had done so well last year).  The Walk was primarily an interactive opportunity in which participants could actually walk on real squares and engage in a variety of activities such as games, conversations, art work, etc.  This interaction was different in character from last year’s.  The “Prayer Garden” was effective from inside out, while this Chessboard Walk was effective from outside in.  For the previous exhibit, the Lord’s Prayer from within the Bible is known by heart by most people, even those who aren’t religious.  So there was no need to cross any “borders.”  So, it started from inside the Bible; from the Sermon on the Mount came the entire interactive program – full of creative ideas.  This Walk, however, worked in reverse; from the symbolism of a chess game’s black and white struggle, one could reach the Biblical message, namely, the theme motto from Romans 12:21 “Don’t be defeated by what is evil but be victorious with the good!”  We trust that this important message from the Bible reached many!

In addition, this was a fifth year that we’ve gone to visit historic locations of the Reformation in a trip called “On The Path of Reformation,” – a visiting of the Waldensians, Huegonots, and Franciscans in Italy, France and Germany respectively.  This excursion fulfilled its expectation because we gained a good understanding of both the places’ and events’ significance in the reformation, and experienced community with each other and all the other participants (especially with those of the Kecskemét congregation) as well.

In organizing our Summer Volunteer Work Program, an intentional goal is that our students will participate in common work and recreation and travel with those young people from other universities who will have a positive impact on them.  It is an open secret that the purpose of these collective work projects is to let seminary students meet others who might be their working partners of the future.

There are also many things which happen during the year in the personal lives of Seminary students because they, too, go through times of trial, temptation, pain, etc.  For many, these experiences serve as times of strengthening, re-orienting or re-establishing of one’s self, but for some these may be weakening, disorienting and discouraging times.  So that every student who leaves our Seminary will go with a wholly healthy mind and soul, everyone’s prayers and efforts are needed.  May we all carry in our prayers the work of our Seminary as it prepares our students for work in ministry and teaching.

And we all say “Amen!”

Coralyn and Laslo Medyesy serve with the Reformed Church of Hungary. Coralyn is a teacher of Social Work and Diakonia at the Nagy Koros School.  Laslo is a professor of theology in the Department of Theology at the Karoli Gaspar University Faculty of Theology and the Reformed University in Budapest.