Following a June meeting with Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS), HEKS and RCH have signed a memorandum of commitment for another four-year country program (CP) in Hungary. This CP will focus on continued Roma outreach as well as on the integration and inclusion of refugees.
Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS) seeks to support partner churches to make a significant contribution to society. They strive to combine diaconal work with the development of church life in local congregations to accomplish social change. The Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) is a strategic partner for HEKS in regards to the wide community of Hungarian Reformed churches in the region for them to work with.
Leadership from HEKS and RCH recently met to renew their intention to participate in another Country Program (CP) for Hungary. Dr. Szabó István, Presiding Bishop of RCH, and Dr. Huszár Pál, Lay President of RCH, gathered with Andreas Kressler, Director of HEKS, and Claude Ruey, President of HEKS, to draft a memorandum on the subject.
The last four-year CP focused on Roma inclusion as well as prioritizing inclusion for those with disabilities. During a June meeting, HEKS and RCH evaluated the work done, hearing from experts from both projects, and then spoke with wider church leadership in regards to the continuation of the projects.
At this meeting, it was decided to shift the focus for the next CP in Hungary. A strong priority on work within Roma communities has continued, along with a new focus on the integration and inclusion of refugees. This strategic cooperation on the issue of refugee integration between the Swiss and Hungarian churches highlights the commitment to work on urgent social justice issues from both denominations. The work done in this new CP will build upon the RCH’s strategic aims for both their Roma Mission and Refugee Ministry.
HEKS’s contribution to the RCH’s already existing outreach projects in local congregations is quite significant – these funds act as an enabler and catalyst for on-the-ground work in communities. HEKS support is an opportunity for congregations who would not be able to participate in programs and outreach projects otherwise, as has been shown through the last CP where many first-time congregations began outreach work to the Roma in their communities. HEKS projects acted and will continue to act as models for further initiatives as the focus now also grows to include projects to aid refugees.
The HEKS visit began on August 31 with a visit to Kecskemét for an introduction again to the Roma Mission of RCH. In the evening the Swiss visitors met with the Presidium of RCH and signed the Agreement Venua in the Bishop's Office. Following this full day, they came back to Budapest to visit the You and Me Roma Mission Centre in the 8th district of Budapest, a neighborhood with a prominent Roma community, to see the on-the-ground work being done there.
Leadership from both churches are excited to move forward with the renewal of the CP in Hungary. It is yet another symbol of the close bond between the denominations as they seek to promote justice and love in the wider world.