Partner Church Program
Our partnership with the Unitarian Church of Kézdivásárhely, Romania (Transylvania) formally began by congregational vote in 1997. Our partnership is under the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council program. Transylvania was the birthplace of Unitarianism in 1565 and the Unitarian Church has persevered through centuries of hardships. Ethnically Hungarian, Transylvanians have suffered under the Romanian governments of the past decades.
The Unitarian Church of Kézdivásárhely has approximately 80 members.
Our partnership continues under the Rev. Istvan Buzogany-Csoma, who lives in the village of SzentivanLaborfalva with his wife and two daughters.
What does this "partnership" mean for us? Among other things:
- We agreed to work together to establish a spiritually stimulating, mutually respectful, culturally sensitive, active, long-term collaboration with another congregation;
- We agreed to identify ways in which we could provide support for their church and its members;
- We committed ourselves and our children to learn from and about them in order to enhance our own understanding of our religious heritage and the people of other cultures who share it with us.
We grew our relationship under the partner church’s original minister, Rev. Maria Pap. In 2012, She and her family moved Kolozsvár to take on new assignments. Maria is now working for the Unitarian church's district office as an administrative assistant to the Bishop, while her husband is working with the office web site and doing their photography. Their daughter, Abigel, is now at the University. This link provides a series of photographs, taken by Laszlo Marko, of their final service in July 2012.
For photos of pilgrimages we have taken to visit our partners, see the Pilgrimages page.
We have enjoyed getting to know the current minister of our partner church, the Rev. István Buzogány-Csoma, pictured above with his family, wife Csilla and daughters Boglárka and Eszter . He visited us in Fall 2013. You can view photos of his visit.
Rev. István Buzogány-Csoma and his family live in the nearby village of SzentivanLaborfalva, where he is also the Unitarian minister. A small group from UUAA travelled to Kézdivásárhely to visit in 2014.
As Rev. Maria Pap said in a sermon delivered to our congregation in 2007, "In every partnership, be it between individuals or communities, there comes a time when there is a longing for depth, a longing for a vision of where this particular partnership is going, of where this long walk is going to take us."
For the twentieth anniversary of the Partner Church program, Maria contributed to the written program with a paper called 'Inspiration'. If you would like to read Rev. Maria's sermons and other sermons and writings about our Partnership, please follow this link.
We have enjoyed having visits from our Partner Church family and other Transylvanian Unitarians. Follow this link for photographs and to read more about our visitors.
Over thirty UUAA congregation members and friends have travelled to visit our Partner Church in Kézdivásárhely since we became partners in 1997. To read more about the trips and view photos, follow this link.
The birthplace of Unitarianism was in Transylvania, then a part of Hungary, in 1565. Unitarianism flourished there briefly during the Reformation and then endured harsh persecution. Transylvania’s geographic position, caught between east and west, linguistically and ethnically Hungarian, made the position of Unitarians even more perilous. After World War I, the land area of Transylvania was transferred politically to Romania, but it never became Romanian in anything other than nationality. World War II was especially difficult, as the country was invaded by opposing forces and the political situation swung from one to the other. Jews, Roma, Unitarians, and other smaller ethnic groups were pursued and often sent to hard labor or extermination camps. After the war ended, the Communist regime continued the campaign against religious and ethnic minorities.
But Transylvanian Unitarians continue to practice their faith, maintaining ethnic and faith traditions that are now more than 400 years old. The Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council was founded in June 1993 to focus and coordinate the enormous grassroots energy of dozens of UU churches which had formed partnerships with Unitarian churches in Central Europe following the collapse of Communism in December 1989. There had been programs established in the 1920s, but most had not been sustained during the Communist years. Most have been established or re-established since the fall of Communism.
Hungarian-speaking Transylvanians continue to struggle to survive in the Romanian government system. Many have not had their land and property returned to them since 1989. The Partner Church programs such as ours have contributed support, both financial and personal, to their fellow churches. The model of their faith and perseverance has strengthened us in return.
Here is a reflection on what we gain from our partnership:
“When I close my eyes, I see the faces of the people of my partner village and remember the things I learned from them.
They taught me about trust.
They taught me about perseverance in spite of repeated hardships.
They demonstrated the value of community.
And they showed me again how to experience joy in the simple things of life.”
The mission of the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council is to foster and support partner relationships between UU congregations and individuals in the United States and Canada with Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist congregations, orphanages, schools and students in all other countries where partnering is sought and welcomed. These will be of high quality, firmly based, mutually beneficial, responsibly sustained, and linked by a joint and mutual covenant.
BE a bridge that connects congregations around the world;
REACH across boundaries to collaborate with old and new partners;
CREATE transformational opportunities for pilgrimage and hospitality, for learning and for service;
CHALLENGE ourselves theologically and open ourselves to changed values and behaviors;
ESTABLISH global community as a common commitment of liberal religion;
INITIATE partnerships that promote global friendships, international awareness, human rights, and a better world; and
SUSTAIN this global vision, enlarging and renewing it as new occasions teach new duties.
More about the UU Partner Churches: Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council web site
More about our Transylvanian roots: UUA Pamphlet: Unitarian Universalist Origins; Our Historic Faith