No matter how strange it may sound: Calvinists form a national strategy of Hungarian Calvinists in the Carpathian Basin. In mid-August, the draft was proposed for discussion at the Conference of Calvinists in Szárszó, so that everyone was given the chance to say how Calvinists can contribute to the life of the Hungarian nation.
According to Reformátusok Lapja, the first conference in Szárszó was held in August 1943, during the Second World War, in the summer camp of the Soli Deo Gloria Association. Many intellectual young people gathered in the open air to discuss the future of the Hungarian nation. Almost eight decades later, it seems unbelievable how many sacrifices young people have made to get to the meeting in Szárszó. There were some youngsters who could only get there by working and saving money for two weeks. The words of Németh László, speaker at the 43rd conference are still actual. The doctor and writer set the goal of “inoculating” Hungarians against the “saviours” sent to us from abroad, whichever part of the world they had come from. According to him, we must choose our own Hungarian way. Some participants were brave enough to express their disagreement, as they were driven by the desire to find the best way for Hungarians.
After seventy-nine years, this question still concerns Calvinist church members. More than 300 people gathered in Szárszó to express their views on the forthcoming national strategy. The Calvinist Public and Cultural Foundation has been hosting this forum for intellectuals for five years. This year, dozens of lectures and round table discussions could be attended by the participants. In addition to the strategic plan, they talked about God and self-awareness, and there were also discussions on the nation-preserving role of the Calvinist education, the family, the congregations and Hungarianism. Among the speakers, there were László Trócsányi, rector of the Károly Gáspár Calvinist University; István Nagy, Minister of Agriculture; Emőke Tapolyai and Komlósi Piroska psychologists; Grezsa Ferenc psychiatrist; István Bogárdi Szabó, professor of theology; András Lánczi philosopher; Mihály Imre, historian of literature, Lajos Bara school principal in Királyhágómellék; Róbert Géresi, Bishop of Upper Hungary, András Csűrös and Levente Sohajda Pastors. The conference was attended by Katalin Novák President of the Republic, who spoke about her Calvinist faith to the audience.
Speaking about the national strategy, Zoltán Balog, the President of the Calvinist Church of Hungary told to the Journal of Calvinists that the existence and service of the church is directed outwards, so to say, the church does not serve itself, but always aims to help others. “It’s worth thinking about what it is that we can do specifically to the life of the Hungarian nation. That is why we are preparing a Hungarian Calvinist national strategy for the Carpathian region.” The participants sought answers to many questions. Recalling the words of Levente Zoltán Hajdú, Pastor of Szólád, and head of the missionary service of the church:
“Do we dare to believe that our church has a victorious Christ, and not fight a defensive rearguard action in the 21st century, where the last one will turn off the lights?”
The conference participants discussed the issues in groups led by well-known Calvinist personalities such as Réka Földváryné Kiss, chair of the National Remembrance Committee, and journalist Bálint Ablonczy. The group leaders reported that the draft strategy was surprisingly active, with people enthusiastically contributing to it. They also discussed the question of why the “entry threshold” is high for some congregations, what makes someone Calvinist, whether the Lord’s Prayer can be a strategy, whether we need to emphasise our differences, and what makes Calvinism attractive without leading to self-abandonment.
The four-day conference in Szárszó gave place to active discussions and debates, demanding presentations, thought-provoking contributions, real fraternal encounters, tears and lots of laughter, which ended with a worship service on Sunday. The local church was full of believers, many of whom were just standing in the doorway to hear the Word of God, which was preached by Archpriest Ferenc Hella.
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