The Common Synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church (HRC) recently took place in Debrecen, Hungary on 24 June, 2017 and was a day full of celebration and fellowship for all in attendance.
The HRC is an expression of a special church communion in the form of a Common Synod that is composed of the Hungarian-speaking reformed churches in the Carpathian Basin. 2017 marks the 450-year anniversary of the 1567 Constitutional Synod that created the Hungarian Reformed Community in the Carpathian Basin. In celebration of this, the RCH held a celebratory synod meeting, remembering the creation of the HRC as well as approving a new translation of the Second Helvetic Confession, signed first by the Swiss reformed cantons in 1566. This new translation will use more modern vernacular and appeal to a wider base of believers, spreading the influence of the important Confession throughout the region. During its session the Common Synod accepted a festive statement on recommitting itself to the values of the Second Helvetic Confession.
The strengthening of Reformation in Debrecen dates back to the 1550s and ’60s, with such leading figures as Márton Sánta Kálmáncsehi and Péter Juhász Melius. The 1567 synod of Debrecen played a crucial role in the stabilization of the Reformed Church. The representatives of the dioceses rejected the teachings of Antitrinitarianism in two confessions written in Latin and Hungarian, endorsed the Second Helvetic Confession, and laid down the basic rules, principles and regulations of the new church.
The HRC Common Synod began with a Celebratory Session on the morning of 24 June, 2017. The gathering focused on the Second Helvetic Confession and approving its new Hungarian translation, and exciting step to making the confession more readily accessible to the average Hungarian. The session also remembered the 450th anniversary of the acceptance of this confession. In addition, the Synod approved the official Association of the Hungarian Speaking Reformed Communities in Canada and the Hungarian Speaking Reformed Congregation in Luxemburg to the HRC.
Martin Engels, Moderator of the Reformed Alliance in Germany (RAG), was also in attendance for the Synod meeting and extended sincere greetings from the RAG and its member churches. “The Church of Jesus Christ is a community whose members are in deep connection beyond their own respective local and regional boundaries and characteristics,” said Engles in his address. “In my opinion, it is very exciting to look at the topic of your Synod,” he continued, “450 years of Hungarian Reformed community, an event that is inseparably connected with the translation of the Second Helvetic Confession. Exciting, because the circumstances of its birth and also its impact are remarkably Ecumenical. Martin Engles noted that it was amazing that in the end this confesion had significantly less impact in Germany than in Switzerland or in Hungary.
Engles closed his address with timely words about the current European context, saying that, “We celebrate reformation Jubilee in Germany and across Europe. It is good to deal with its own history and to celebrate this. But still: We are challenged to bear witness to what we stand for, both in action and reflection. Are we able to identify the real issues behind the themes that are hiding behind some aggressive political rhetoric in Europe? In other words: are we are alert enough to recognize that "here" and "now" really?” He noted that it is easy for the church to feel overwhelmed and alone in it’s own context, and so, in his eyes, “we need the conversation with each other, to enlighten the blind spots in the perception of reality. The exchange between the churches and the communities sharpen our senses for the analysis of the present reality and a theological reflection, which opens up new horizons.” In this way, the upcoming General Assembly of WCRC in Leipzig, Germany, with its theme of "Living God, renew and transform us,” is an important reminder of the deepest reality and truth of the Reformation: “God is the subject of our confession, our Church and our faith.”
A festive reception followed the Session meeting in which President János Áder addressed the crowd.
The Reformation has not only become a part of Hungarians’ lives over the past centuries but also a support for their shared national identity, President János Áder said at a festive session of the synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church in Debrecen, in eastern Hungary, on Saturday. Áder named the Hungarian language Bible as the “greatest gift” of the Reformation for Hungary. The president noted that the Reformation had divided Europe and that “the freedom fight of faith” had resulted in heavy casualties across the continent. He said that in Hungary, the Reformation had coincided with “the freedom fights of the nation.” Áder said the strengthened faith of believers brought about by the Reformation had tightened the community of the church and, in turn, the community of the nation. Hungary’s ongoing memorial year marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Europe includes close to 400 events in the Carpathian Basin. Source: MTI. Posted by Alexandra Béni on dailynewshungary.com
In the afternoon, those in attendance gathered for a celebratory worship service where Bishop Izdebski participated in the liturgy on behalf of the Reformed Church in Poland.
The whole event was a great celebration for Hungarian Reformed Church as it marked the 450th anniversary of the establishment of the HRC and the occasion of the adoption of a new translation of the Second Helvetic Confession. The Synod committed itself to shape the life of its congregations and institutions according to the confession and it recognized with repentance and self-examination all expressions of the life and teaching of the church which hindered the fulfillment of its mission in the past or endangers the purity of the testimony of the Gospel and credibility of its service in the present. The Synod also expressed its willingness to learn from contemporary confessions of the worldwide church, in the spirit of mutual appreciation, fraternal dialogue, and understanding.
“We give thanks to God for the generations before us, whom He inspired by His Spirit again and again to shape their life and carry out its mission according to the biblical insights and teaching of our confessions. 450 years ago, in the midst of serious debates, the leaders and governing bodies of our reformed church “renewed according to the Gospel” and accepted the Second Helvetic Confession, because they were working with full commitment to renew the life and mission of the church according to God’s will and cleanse it from false doctrines to preserve its unity given in Christ and witness all this to everyone. Following the example of many European churches of the time, by this decision, the Synod of Debrecen wished to provide assistance and orientation on the reformed Christian faith, life, teaching, and service. Today, the Common Synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church, still embracing the consideration of its forefathers, re-affirmed the Second Helvetic Confession.”-quote from the Statement of the HRC Common Synod
Article by Kearstin Bailey
Photos by reformatus.hu