Annual Report 2011


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Reformed Church in Hungary

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Annual Report of the Reformed Church in Hungar y o r a e Y g n i r e e Vo lu nt 2011 f


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Reformed Church in Hungary, 2011 1 Welcome Message of the Presidium of the Synod – Gusztáv Bölcskei – Pál Huszár 5 The Synod’s Activities in 2011 8 Main Activities in 2011 10 Our Ecumenical Community 12 Church-State Relations – The RCH and the New Church Law 17 Relations Within and Outside the Carpathian Basin 21 Partner Church Relations – Partner Churches – Synods of Our Partner Churches – Diaspora 28 The Hungarian EU Presidency – From a Reformed Perspective 32 2011 – Year of Volunteering 33 Mission Activities of the Reformed Church in Hungary 42 Main Activities of the Church Aid – Diaconal Year in Hungary (DYH) Programme Office – Hungarian Reformed Church Aid (HRCA) 44 Health Care Activities 45 Church of Youth – Csillagpont (Starpoint) Youth Festival 2011 50 Education – Public Education – Higher Education 55 Life of the Reformed Church in Hungary in Numbers


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Welcome Message of the Presidium of the Synod “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God!” (2Cor 5:20) Ambassadors for Christ contemporary times, mankind, Hungarian society, the European community and a world facing global challenges. In the church revision that we launched in 2011, we intended to find whether the process that originates from God and aims to reach people – revealed by the Biblical phrase “Ambassadors for Christ” – is working properly. Are the above-mentioned roles still clear, or is there some fault in communication? Because if any of these roles are misinterpreted, the whole process gets misguided. If the church does not serve the redeeming grace of God, manifested in Christ, to all men and to the whole creation, then His delegation is lost. If the church defines and represents ultimatums in its world-view, and its mission is no longer the quiet but determined presence that calls for reconciliation with God, then it misses the original meaning of the mission. Finally, if the church fails to understand the age in which it lives – those addressed –, it does not see the man behind social phenomena or take every opportunity to convey the message of the Gospel, and in turn, what matters most is lost. The service of the church has many pitfalls, and its existence is not at all inevitable. It is truly wonderful when all these actors experience and understand that it is the almighty God, who has reconciled with this lost world in the crucified and resurrected Christ, that acts through and with the church. In 2011 our Reformed community was preoccupied with the issue of church identity, as well as the challenge of a better understanding of society. We deemed it important to, first and foremost, focus 1 The Synod of the Reformed Church in Hungary operates in six-year periods, on the basis of a jointly formulated work plan. The year 2011 marks the midpoint of the current period, providing our community with a good opportunity for reflection. The motto of the Reformed Church in Hungary for 2011 is “Ambassadors for Christ.” This Biblical reference highlights the roles in the work the church is involved in: there is someone who delegates, the delegate itself, as well as those being addressed. The one who delegates is naturally God: He creates, completes and oversees the whole process. The delegate, the ambassador, is the church itself, and those addressed are the target demographic:


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Reformed Church in Hungary, 2011 Welcome Message of the Presidium of the Synod on ourselves, i.e. the questions of the self-definition of the church, and to promptly answer them in order to achieve success in our mission. Another equally significant task was to review the situation of our service in society, which is directly linked to those we address as ambassadors. This self-revision, however, was not a mere theoretical clarification for the Reformed Church in Hungary; it was also manifested in the themes of our church programmes. Our aim was to have the issue of the entire community’s identity, as well as the idea of finding our way, appear in the micro-communities of congregations. This year, the Synod of the Reformed Church in Hungary found a new way to discuss the challenges our church has to face: it devoted a thematic, workshop-like session to finding practical answers to the questions these challenges raise. The sociological research studies that provided the background for this thematic session highlighted major social and economic challenges, which made it clear to all participants that our church needs strategic thinking in the areas of mission, church service, church governance and financing. What we can draw inspiration from, is the fact that in 2011 our church was again able to act as an ambassador of Christ in various strategically important areas, not only in Hungary but also around the world. Several ongoing Reformed initiatives were strengthened in 2011, and a number of new opportunities also arose. One of these was Csillagpont (Starpoint), the official youth festival of our church. The success of the event is evident from the steady rise in the number of participants as well as the increasingly professional festival organization. Through the years, it has become one of the pillars of our ambassadorship of Christ, with its contribution to the unity of our Reformed community not only in the Carpathian Basin, but all over the world, with the strengthening of our mission activities and the development of truly modern forms of youth education. The year 2011 also provided our church with opportunities to appear in new areas. One such area was the Hungarian EU presidency in the first half of the year, during which we – as an actor in the dialogue of churches and church institutions – were able to present our views and offers regarding the contribution to the operation of the European Union at numerous international discussions and partner meetings. Another uplifting moment on an international level was the church partnership agreement, concluded during the autumn session of the Synod, with a distant Reformed community, the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (DRC). The enormous geographical distance will be countered by a close partnership resembling a unity, as the two churches mutually recognize each other’s church membership, and enjoy a pulpit and table fellowship. A central issue of the work plan of the Hungarian EU presidency was the Roma strategy. With gratitude in my heart, let me mention a related event, which is also an example of our ambassadorship in Hungarian society, namely the launching of the Wáli István Roma Special College. This institution is a great example of Ecumenical cooperation, and a member of the Christian Roma Special College Network, aiming at educating the future Roma intelligentsia in general subject matters, social sciences and the realm of spirituality as well. This unique and carefully designed system could contribute to the slow but real improvement of the situation of the Roma community in Hungary. I am convinced that our efforts in 2011, our self-revision and search for direction all stem from the sense of responsibility from a powerful living community. I believe it is good when a church is in constant motion. That it is not surrounded by well-guarded borders, but seeks to fulfill its faithbased mission among people. This is so because the final destination of our ambassadorship is man himself. Our church, as an ambassador of Christ, can provide a credible example to the whole of society, and show that in order to find reconciliation, to deal with the existing individual, social and economic tensions and challenges, to attain a livable future we need to “cross borders” and to create “border-crossing” communities. Communities that follow the will of the God who has crossed every known and unknown border, so that we could be His children. I wish and ask the Lord to enable us – both as individuals and as a community – to become ambassadors who can cross borders, and to lead all of us towards His own goals. Gusztáv Bölcskei Presiding Bishop of the RCH Synod


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“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) year, local governments felt – and not without good reason – that their schools were in danger. To save them and guarantee their high standard, several local governments expressed a wish to give up their schools to our church. Regarding the issue of taking over schools, we found ourselves in a double bind. On the one hand, we would have been happy to see an increase in the number of Reformed elementary and secondary schools as well as the ensuing growth of our mission potential. On the other hand, we were anxious about whether we would still have the financial means to properly maintain both our existing institutions and the ones to being taken over. The schools run by our church provide a variety of mission opportunities. I myself greatly enjoy participating in school events in fully packed churches – the opening and closing of a school year, graduation ceremonies and other occasions – and addressing those present. It would be a mistake, if not a sin, to overlook these gifts of mission opportunity: we would fail to follow Christ’s mission command – which is relevant in the life of each one of us – if we gave up the chance to address our brothers and sisters who are still “on the outside.” We hope that our schools will be able to provide pupils with eternal values on the basis of the Scripture, which will enable them to become Reformed Christian adults who are able to resist the gilded but fake worthlessness of today’s globalization, and are willing to be fully committed to their homeland, Hungary. We expect our Reformed schools to equip the youth in their care with a Reformed Christian mentality, with a commitment to our Hungarian nation, and of course with sound subject matter knowledge. We can also expect that our institutions – apart from educating them in various subjects – make students aware of their 2/3 My heart filled with true gratitude towards the Lord, I can gladly say that once more in the year 2011 we could feel the preserving grace and supporting presence of our Heavenly Father in all of our endeavours. We humbly asked Him yet again to guide our thoughts while we were planning our tasks and fulfilling our actions. I am thankful that we could constantly experience the fact that the Lord of the Church always keeps an eye on our work; He appreciates and supports what we do. In our daily church governance duties we had to pay special attention to the situation of our churchrun schools. Just like Martin Luther, we believe – looking back to the example of our forefathers – that schools are the allotments of the church. It follows that we would happily undertake the running of as many new schools as possible. Last


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Reformed Church in Hungary, 2011 Welcome Message of the Presidium of the Synod responsibilities. As we can read on the wall of one of our renowned Reformed secondary schools: “Talent is not a merit, but it obliges.” The reason why I have mentioned our mission duties is that we must never forget that the mission command of our Lord – “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, ...” – is addressed to us who consider ourselves to be His 21st-century disciples. Our mission activities in big cities and small towns, in diaspora and at universities are equally important, because they could mean that with the help of God and the meek language of love, we can direct more and more of our fellow human beings toward the Lord of our Church, Jesus Christ. Naturally, we have different roles in this process. We who are lay church members – regardless of our office held – can be most successful in showing a personal example of how to lead a Christian life, a life that could seem desirable in the eyes of others as well. Moving forward on the road that began on 22 May 2009, when the Constitution of the united Hungarian Reformed Church was signed in the Great Church of Debrecen, in May 2011 a meeting of Reformed lay presidents in the Carpathian Basin was held in Pápa. Although the list of participants was not complete, not only the current four lay presidents from Hungary attended the meeting, but also the Reformed lay presidents of Transylvania (Romania), Vojvodina (Serbia) and Transcarpathia (Ukraine). During the meeting, we could exchange experiences within our own church, and also gain a larger perspective. We experienced a moving inter-denominational gesture in the crypt of the Tihany Benedictine Abbey, where the Prior who was kind enough to be our guide surprised all of us by saying: “Dear Brothers, this is a historic moment, as the Reformed lay presidents of the Carpathian Basin are standing around the tomb of our founding king. We must sing the first stanza of Psalm 90.” And we did so, following the Prior in singing our Reformed hymn, the solemnity of the moment making us all very emotional. As an invited speaker at the Theology Department of Pázmány Péter Catholic University, I had the opportunity to talk about the activities of John Calvin as a church reformer. A few months later a church history professor of the same institution analyzed Calvin from a Roman Catholic point of view at the Calvin Conference organized by the Reformed Theology Academy of Pápa in an excellent talk, which any Reformed pastor could learn a great deal from. In 2011, our church – more specifically, our Synod – experienced a renewed need for the revelation of past events (“Facing the past”). The process has begun: a group of historians has been selected, who have undertaken to carry out scientific research and collect information from archives; the topic has become a part of church members’ awareness. I believe – and this is strictly my personal view – that we can only expect a partial solution at best. Certain names might surface: the names of those who were blackmailed, threatened or cajoled into cooperating with the Communist regime, or of those who voluntarily did so against their best judgment. Many of them have since passed away, so any moral condemnation may only be addressed to their descendants. However, the names of those responsible for coercing the above people, will no doubt remain in oblivion. As time progresses, the chances of achieving real results gradually diminishes. It is also obvious that since the fall of Communism, there have been certain political forces who have done everything they could to obscure the horrors of Communist dictatorship in public consciousness. We must accept that this hideous issue will never be fully resolved. There are many in our Reformed community as well as in the whole of the Hungarian nation who feel that these unfortunate but also shameful stories should come to light. This is a valid desire, even if we are aware that due to historical reasons we can only expect a partial solution, as some of these issues cannot be uncovered because they are legally inaccessible. This brief review of the year 2011 can be nothing more than a subjective “picking and choosing” from a variety of Reformed events, which is inevitably influenced by the perspective of the reviewer, no matter how objective he tries to be. Pál Huszár Lay President of the Synod


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The Synod’s Activities in 2011 May Session Taking Stock, Undergoing Self-Revision During the May session of the Synod, there were important personnel issues on the agenda: János Jákob was elected as the new Protestant Military Bishop, and Péter Balla as Rector of Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary. In terms of legislation, the church laws regarding election and the legal status of pastors were discussed. In case of the former issue – in preparation for the election of elders in the second half of the year – the Synod adopted the resolution that ordained persons who are engaged in pastoral work may not be elected as elders of a local church. The latter church law was formulated throughout the rest of the year’s Synod sessions. The most important decision of the 7th Session of the 13th Synod stemmed from the opening speech of Presiding Bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei: he called the Synod’s attention to the fact that in 2011 the Synod had arrived at its midpoint, and he suggested that the Synod devote an autumn session to taking stock and undergoing self-revision regarding its activities and tasks. Attila Szűcs, a Transdanubian member of the Synod made a proposal to hold an extraordinary session in the autumn, where the main facts, duties and ideas concerning the present and the future of the Reformed Church could be reviewed. The proposal was adopted as a Synod resolution, summoning the extraordinary thematic session of the Synod on 28-29 September. 4/5 Members of the Synod voting


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Reformed Church in Hungary, 2011 The Synod’s Activities in 2011 Thematic Synod Session Balatonszárszó Not Only Problems, but also Alternatives The extraordinary, or rather, thematic Synod session took place in the ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ Conference Centre in Balatonszárszó. The preparations for this session were different from those of the “general” ones: the Synod made the drafting of the agenda open to all. The Presidium of the Synod then arranged the suggestions received into five topics, which provided the starting points of the discussion. First, the situation of church and Hungarian society was presented by sociologists and then discussed by the members of the Synod. The description of this starting point was supplemented by the issues of mission strategy, the role of lay officials in the church, and the theme of pastoral work. Questions of church organisation were also raised during the session, with the mention of possibly transforming church governance. Finally, the agenda also featured the future of church financing, as well as the self-sustaining potential of congregations. Kobus Gerber, Gusztáv Bölcskei and Pál Huszár signing the church partnership agreement November Session Setting up the Church Revision Committee and Church Partnership Agreement An important task for the “regular” November session of the Synod was to summarize the suggestions and outcomes of the Balatonszárszó session, and take them one step further. The Synod decided that its Theology Committee should develop theological guidelines that could enhance the renewal. The Synod also adopted a resolution about setting up the Church Revision Committee. During the autumn session, the Presidium of the Synod signed a church partnership agreement with the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (DRC). According to the agreement between the RCH and the DRC, the two churches mutually recognize each other’s church membership, and enjoy a pulpit and table fellowship. It also contains the mutual recognition of ordination and the possibility to invite the other church’s pastors. Furthermore, the cooperation involves pastoral care among Hungarians in South Africa, as well as among refugees and minorities, common service in Malawi, and also joint mission initiatives. Further joint tasks include the support of congregations to become mission oriented communities, cooperation in terms of theology training and research, the pursuit of justice, and the enhancement of social reconciliation and the “healing of memories.” A recurring theme of the two-day event was a German example brought up in the presidential opening speech. The reason for this is that the Church of Rhine – a partner church of the RCH – has tried to react to similar challenges in an effective way. Our German brothers and sisters, after years of preliminary work, adopted a new church strategy in 2009, on the basis of which they developed a set of guidelines for congregations. The aim of the reforms was to place more emphasis on people than on structures within the church.


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Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Reformation Together In November, the Synod also adopted a resolution to initiate a joint Synod session with the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Hungary to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of Reformation, coming up in 2017. 6/7 Bishops József Csomós, József Steinbach, János Jákob and István Szabó at the Synod Synod Council Cautious Institutional Takeovers At its first 2011 meeting in February, the Synod Council paid special attention to the increasing number of institutions being taken over by the church. The ultimate financial decision-making body of the RCH adopted a resolution in which it asked the congregations and presbyteries to refrain from taking over educational and social institutions. The resolution warned that all such takeovers should be previously consulted with superior church bodies, and it should be pointed out that those who take over an institution are both morally and financially responsible for its operation. Increasing Budget The December meeting was devoted to the adoption of the 2012 budget of the RCH. According to the final church budget, the RCH has 14.16 billion HUF for 2012, which is a 1.3 billion HUF, i.e. 10.5%, increase compared to the budget of the previous year. This difference is almost exclusively due to the increased state support, which has been granted to the RCH in exchange for the state duties performed by the church.


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Main Activities in 2011 Debrecen Meeting of Doctors’ College Doctors’ College (DC), the scientific body of the Reformed Church, held its 2011 annual meeting in Debrecen, with approximately 250 participants not only from Hungary, but also from other areas of the Carpathian Basin. The speakers included Tamás Lukácsi, constitutional lawyer; Miklós Réthelyi, Minister of National Resources; Professor Zsolt Kozma and László Koncsor, writer and literary historian. During the meeting, the members voted on the winner of the title “Golden Ring Doctor of Theology,” which was awarded to Gábor Vladár, Rector of Pápa Reformed Theological Academy. Fourteen new doctors were accepted as DC members, and a vote was taken on the Book of the Year, won by Zoltán Kustár for his book entitled The Text of the Hebrew Old Testament. A new award – DC-Book 2011 – was also introduced, with Kálvin Publishing House selected as the winner. The meeting included a presentation of Dr. Klára Semsey Dr. Lenkeyné’s book entitled Interpreting the Book of Revelation, the statue of Áron Hegymegi Kiss, former Transtibiscan Bishop, was unveiled in the yard of the Debrecen-Széchenyi kert congregation. The First Common Ordination Exam In its previous cycle, the Synod of the Reformed Church in Hungary had expressed a wish to have a unified qualification process for pastors and a common ordination exam that reaches beyond individual higher education institutions and seminaries. The first unified qualification exams took place on 20-21 September in the Synod Building of the RCH. There were altogether thirty-nine applicants, mostly from Pápa Reformed Theological Academy and Károli Gáspár University in Budapest. Ultimately, 33 of them actually took the exam – due to withdrawals and unsuccessful written exams. For the time being, the unified exam only encompasses Hungary, but the aim is to have it extend to the entire Carpathian Basin, to the complete area of the Hungarian Reformed Church. “White Crows” The working group “White Crows” – consisting of historians, researchers, and archivists – launched a research study entitled “Memories of the 20th – Century Persecution of the Church” with the Danubian Reformed Church District, the National Lutheran Museum and the Catholic weekly Új Ember. White Crows is engaged in several research studies, and its primary aim is to collect public data from various locations where persecution occurred in the last century.


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Bishops Péter Gáncs and Gusztáv Bölcskei, with Győző Szenci, Director of the national Gene Bank Council of Hungary “Fruit Trees in the Parish” “It is our moral duty to conserve our natural heritage, to safeguard and spread the treasures of nature,” states the agreement entitled, “Fruit Trees in the Parish,” signed on 5 September by Gusztáv Bölcskei, Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Church in Hungary; Péter Gáncs, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Hungary; and Sándor Fülöp, Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations, who had initiated the cooperation. Further signatories included József Ángyán, Minister of State for the Ministry of Rural Development; Director Győző Szenci, representing the national Gene Bank Council of Hungary; Mayor Tamás Lantos, representing the Fruit-growing Network of the Carpathian Basin; and Gábor Ónodi, associate professor at Szent István University. The conservation and spreading of fruit trees and bushes that have developed in the Carpathian Basin is a vital part of our heritage. It is for this reason that the “Fruit Trees in the Parish” agreement has been brought forth: to conserve the well-adapted fruit species that have been grown for ages in the Carpathian Basin. The signatories undertake to receive local fruit tree saplings from the species collections of the gene bank and plant them in parishes. The churches, apart from planting the trees, are responsible for encouraging congregation members to join the initiative and get involved in finding further locations where the saplings can be planted. The institutions that participate in the programme pledge to take care of plants put in their care. 8/9 Radio Europe on Air in Debrecen Radio Europe has been officially launched in Debrecen. The Reformed radio station has been operating for six years, run by the Cistibiscan and Transtibiscan Reformed Church Districts. The radio is available for a growing audience.


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Our Ecumenical Community In 2011, Lutheran, Catholic and Reformed Bishops met several times to discuss various issues The first meeting – with the participation of the members of the Standing Committee of the Hungarian Episcopal Conference, as well as the Reformed and Lutheran bishops – took place on 5 February, where those present evaluated the church-related activities of the new government, and discussed the details of their ongoing and envisioned joint actions. The bishops of the three large Christian denominations recalled with gratitude the communal experiences of the recent Ecumenical Week of Prayer, reinforcing their commitment to continue their common work. The meeting gave the church leaders an opportunity to share their views on religious education in schools. They discussed certain issues of church media as well, and they agreed that a consultation would be desirable with lay leaders of the media, regarding the question of religious programmes on national television. The participants listened to a report on the decision to make 2017 the Year of Reformation, and the preliminary work concerning the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Reformation. In their 11 October meeting, the church leaders talked about the common tasks of church service, as well as current social issues. The church law adopted in July, and its impact on the life and service of churches, was also among the topics discussed. While reviewing the data of the 1% Individual Income Tax Donations, the church leaders were surprised by the fact that, despite the rising number of donors, the overall sum of donations had significantly dropped. In their view, this raised a question about the need for transforming the system of church financing, and therefore feel prompt negotiations should be initiated with state officials. The bishops expressed their pleasure that the 2006 inter-church agreement on religious education seems to be working, and there are fewer and fewer church-run institutions encountering problems with the religious education of students from different denominations. Regarding the national census, the church leaders had ambivalent experiences, mostly regarding the answers on denominational affiliation. In their view, the lack of clarity could undermine the reliability of the results. The churches initiated a meeting with the Hungarian Central Statistical Office to interpret the questionnaires.


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Elections Held at the Council of Christians and Jews in Hungary At the Council’s March assembly, János Székely, Auxiliary Bishop of Esztergom-Budapest was elected as chairman, while Gusztáv Bölcskei, Presiding Bishop of the Synod became one of the vice-chairmen. The Council of Christians and Jews in Hungary was founded in 1990. It consists of representatives of the Jewish community and Christian denominations, officially delegated to the council by their churches. The main aim of the Council is to enhance mutual understanding, and to overcome centuries-long prejudices. It strives to build cooperation between Christians and Jews, contributing to the shaping of both denominational and lay public opinion. The Council is open to any denomination that wishes to become involved in its work. A recent challenge has been to maintain a dialogue with Islam. Since its foundation, the organisation has been a member of the Germany-based International Council of Christians and Jews, which has its office in Heppenheim, in the house where Martin Buber, Jewish philosopher was born. New President and General Secretary at the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary At the elections during the annual general meeting of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary (ECCH), held on 8 December 2011, Lutheran pastor Dr. Vilmos Fischl was elected as General Secretary, replacing Zoltán Bóna, and Reformed Bishop József Steinbach became the new President, replacing Imre Szebik. The Terms of Reference was amended to have officials elected for six years instead of three. At the meeting, the Hungarian Pentecostal Church became a full member, while the Hungarian Evangelical Alliance and the Association of Christian Railway Employees became cooperative members. 10/11 József Steinbach, President of ECCH Vilmos Fischl, General Secretary of ECCH


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Church-State Relations Foundation of Christian Roma Special College Network A Christian Roma Special College Network has been founded with the aim of supporting the higher education of Roma. The initiative was welcomed by the government. The document of cooperation was signed on 17 March by Reformed Bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei; Greek Catholic Bishop Fülöp Kocsis; Lutheran Bishop Tamás Fabinyi; Tamás Forrai, Provincial of the Jesuit Order; and Zoltán Balog, Minister of State for Social Inclusion of the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice. The network was launched in September, and is present in four locations in Hungary. It wishes to raise awareness regarding social and national issues, support Roma students in their education and personal development, increase the sense of responsibility towards the community and strengthen the Christian Roma intelligentsia. The Reformed, Greek Catholic and Lutheran Churches as well as the Jesuit Order launched such special colleges in four cities: Debrecen, Miskolc, Nyíregyháza and Budapest. Decision on Wage Compensation at Church Institutions Performing Public Duties On 16 February, leaders of the Hungarian historical churches entered into negotiations with the leaders of the Office of the Minister of State for Church, Civil Society and Nationality Affairs (Ministry of Public Administration and Justice) about wage compensation for employees of church-run institutions that perform public duties. The lengthy negotiations were finally completed in August 2011, and the agreement on wage compensation was signed on 9 November. As a consequence, churches and church maintainers advanced the wage compensation for their employees, 71.2% of which the government settled on 11 November 2011. The full payment of the wage compensation could follow when the 2011 financial statements of the state budget are approved.


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“Soldier-School” Programme at the Reformed Schools of Debrecen “Freedom comes at a price,” emphasized both Reformed Bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei and Minister of Defence Csaba Hende at the opening ceremony of the series of events called “Soldiers, Heroes – Tradition and Renewal” in the Great Church of Debrecen. The programme was organized to commemorate the spring campaign of the 1848-49 Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence. In the Oratory of the Reformed College, Gusztáv Bölcskei and Brigadier General Gábor Böröndi, General of the 5th ‘Bocskai István’ Infantry Brigade signed a cooperation agreement on military education at Reformed Schools. Minister Hende Csaba also attended the event. The agreement states that military education will be a special area of cooperation, and students of the Reformed Schools of Debrecen will be offered an extracurricular activity where they can learn military basics. The aim of the “Soldier-School” programme is to acquaint our youth with the modern, voluntary Hungarian Army, its duties, challenges and role in Hungary. Reformed Contribution to Reducing Hungarian State Debt In light of the bad state of the Hungarian economy and the situation of the central state budget, as well as to support the government’s initiative to reduce state debt, the Presidium of the Reformed Church in Hungary – having consulted with the leaders of church districts – adopted a resolution on 27 April not to request state support for the renovation and preservation of its estates and churches. In its 2011 budget, the government – as opposed to previous years – allocated a huge amount, 1.2 billion HUF, for the use of the “reconstruction of the treasures of church cultural heritage and other investments.” With this extensive support, the renovation or preservation of several highly valuable church estates – ones that feature prominently in our church heritage – would become possible. The Reformed Church in Hungary has decided to give up its share of the support, amounting to roughly 200 million HUF (based on its denominational percentage), and postpone its renovation activities. Consequently, neither the RCH itself, nor its congregations and institutions will apply to receive financial support from these allocated funds. The RCH suggested that the government invest these unused funds to reduce state debt. The Presidium of the RCH received a letter in July from Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, saying that the government was in no position to accept the fact that the Reformed church has given up the right to receive the state support of nearly 200 million HUF. 12/13



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