Ministry among the Roma

In Hungary, Roma communities have been an inseparable part of society for centuries. In the life of churches, service among Roma has always primarily meant spreading the Gospel. In the last century, this activity has gradually been complemented with other forms of help to facilitate their integration into society, such as educational and social assistance.

The attitude of our churches towards Roma people is the same as towards any other group: they need to hear the message of the Gospel and experience the love of God in order to change and discover new meaning in their lives and find their self-identity through a relationship with God. We strive to bear witness to the love of God not only in the form of words, but also with the help of the various tools of our diaconical services, so that those in need can break out of the prison of indigence and uncertainty that plagues them.

Church services among Roma are special, because they are centered around the community. Instead of the individualist, human rights protection-type approach that has been prevalent for decades, we consider solidarity and mutual respect of various communities as the opportunity for development. That is why we deem it important to enable Hungarian and Roma communities to get to know each other through the recognition and systematisation of work in the field of service among Roma, primarily within our own communities. We are committed to involve those members of Roma communities who would like to co-operate with us in our services. In our view, education is of pivotal importance to facilitate the integration and advancement of Roma. We believe that the strengthening of the Roma community's diverse cultural life needs to be facilitated, and a greater awareness about Roma culture must be achieved.

With centuries of old experience, Hungarian churches can contribute effectively to finding solutions to the problems of the Roma on a European level. This issue can only be resolved if prejudices and rigid stereotypes are left behind. Furthermore, it is only through this approach that steps can be taken to achieve a European-regulated education and social system that enhances social integration.

The most important organ and the coordinating body of this mission is the Council of the Reformed Ministry among Roma, which was founded in 2009. The council contains 12 members. In all of the 4 church districts there is an independent group responsible for the Roma Ministry.

This mission work among the Roma cannot necessarily be separated from the everyday congregational work of the pastors. That is why we know only generally that out of the 1,200 present Hungarian reformed congregations there are 70-80 where there is regular activity connected to Roma Ministry. A significant amount of this is located in Northeast-Hungary, mainly the territory of the Cistibiscan Church District (centre Miskolc).

Several efforts have been made in the recent past to promote the integration of Gypsies into Hungarian society.

An important project called the "Way for life" is organized once a year by the Bethesda Children Hospital and the Reformed Mission Centre. This initiative targets mostly the Roma communities and offers a health check-up. 

In the village Dencsháza, the Reformed Mission Centre, the Reformed congregation, the primary school and the local government joined hands in 2009 to launch the school programme, "Tanoda," for Roma students aged 10-16, as well as the Safe Start Children Centre for pre-school-age children.

In 2011, the István Wáli Reformed Roma Collegium was established as part of the Christian Roma Collegium Network to provide Roma students participating in higher education with accommodations and mentoring. The Collegium started its operation with 16 students in Debrecen.

In 2009, in the village Jánd, a special worship day was held with the aim of inviting young Gypsies before Confirmation to join church activities and become active church members. The local Reformed Church is planning to make this event regular, as the attendance of 51 young people has proven it to be a great success.

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Reformed Church in Hungary

Address: H-1146 Budapest, Abonyi utca 21.   

PO Box: 1140 Budapest 70, Pf. 5

Phone/Fax: + 36 1 460 0708 

Email: oikumene@reformatus.hu





Our church through American eyes

 

We encourage you to read our  former GM intern Kearstin Bailey's blog about her time, spent in Hungary.