Nestled in the beautiful Homorod Valley of the Transylvanian region of Romania lies the small village of Homoródújfalu. Here, about 100 families, primarily Unitarian and ethnically Hungarian, form a close knit agricultural community. Each household owns sheep and cows that pasture in the hills surrounding the village during the day, and return in the evening. Kitchen gardens abound and the village is surrounded by corn fields. While some villagers have found work in nearby cities, many of the young adults have left the village, and the elders remain to work the ancestral land for their livelihood.
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I hope everyone had a chance to enjoy a piece of cake or some fruit on Father’s Day when we bade farewell to this year’s Balázs Scholar, the Rev. Karoly Vass, and his family. The children went home wearing blue and gold Cal t-shirts to help them remember their year in Berkeley. One thing I will remember from Kari’s time with us this year was the opportunity at District Assembly to celebrate communion in the Transylvanian Unitarian tradition. Kari explained all of the meaning and significance of the ritual, but while there is bread and wine to be shared in the communion, he assured us that there is no transubstantiation taking place in their form of communion. Understanding and appreciating the similarities and differences between Unitarian Unitarianism and Transylvanian Unitarianism are the benefits that we and the Balázs Scholars both get to experience. Give many thanks to Starr King School for the Ministry and to the Balázs Scholar Committee for making all of this possible.
Last month I wrote about how much money we were sending to our partner church in Homoródújfalu. Nothing is perfect, and unfortunately the numbers I quoted were far from perfect. What we actually sent was only $1,475. This means we will need to come up with at least $7,000 by November to meet our expectation of providing $400 annually for each student from the village. Ouch! Do we have some angels in the congregation to help us meet that expectation? Angyal is the Hungarian word for angel. Wouldn’t you like to be an angyal?
Köszönöm, (Thank you!)
As we bid farewell to our ministers, Revs. Barbara and Bill Hamilton-Holway, we’ll take time to remember their visits to our partner church in Homoródújfalu. They made pilgrimages in 1998 and 2001. We have two big binders of pictures and much more that Barbara and Bill put together after these trips. Anne Greenwood, Karin Hart, Michèle Voillequé, Andres Kathol, Sheila Kennedy, Elaine Miller, Ruth Rice, and Donna Rolls went with them in 1998. Three years later the pilgrims included Lois Atkinson, Jim Burneo, Anne Greenwood, John Tucker, Jay Hanks, Craig Scott, Roger and Marion Thompson, and Susan Toth. Did I miss anyone? There were many people from other congregations who went along on both occasions. We also invited the minister of our partner church, Rev. Arpad Ilkei, and his wife Judit to visit Berkeley.
The Partner Church Committee has recently sent your generous contributions to Homoródújfalu to assist them with the young peoples’ education and to help rebuild after the recent fire. The total amount was $5,200 with $4,200 for education, $800 for fire relief, and $200 for Arpad’s expenses. We send money twice a year. The next time will be in November. We will need another $4,200 by then to meet our commitment for their educational support. Don’t forget that you can easily set up a monthly donation through the UUCB website!
Köszönöm, (Thank you!)
Harminchárom and Roșia Montana!
A double greeting this month from the Transylvanian Partner Church Committee: the first is the number 33 in Hungarian, and the second is Romanian for Red Mountain.
We’ve told you how you can donate on-line to the Partner Church Committee through the UUCB website at http://uucb.org/our-community/donate-online.html. What if you made an on-going donation of $33 a month? That’s $400 a year (or nearly so) and it will enable a student from Homoródύjfalu to attend high school. The nearest high schools are far from the village, and even though tuition is free, room and board are not. Unlike many Transylvanian villages, there are still growing families in Homoródύjfalu so we have a continuing need to support the young people and their futures. Click that link today and set up your monthly donation!
If you’re reading The Beacon on-line, take a few minutes when you’re done to google “Roșia Montana” (don’t worry about the cedilla, a plain “s” will work just fine). We UUs are committed to social justice everywhere, not just here at home. Roșia Montana is shaping up to be one of the biggest environmental justice issues in the European Economic Union. Gold mining has been done in this area of western Transylvania since Roman times, but plans to reopen the mines on a widespread industrial scale has triggered protests throughout Romania and the rest of Europe. The threat of cyanide pollution to the land and water is great. The Romanian government has attempted to scuttle environmental and historic preservation laws to push the project through under the influence of international mining and financial interests. At the same time, the prospect of jobs in an area of high unemployment and a depressed economy cannot be discounted. UUs across the US are now starting to learn about this long-simmering controversy. Bishops from the four traditional churches of Transylvania (Reformed, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Unitarian) have signed a statement against the Roșia Montana gold mining project. How will we respond? Transylvania is a both a land of myth and legend, and a land with real-world 21st-century problems. The mission of the Transylvanian Partner Church Committee is to assist our partners in Homoródύjfalu in preserving their cultural heritage and living sustainably in the modern world. Will you join us in that mission?
Köszönöm! (Thank you!)
As your new Partner Church Chair I’m seeking to renew UUCB’s relationship with our Partner Church in Homoródújfalu as we go forward with our ministerial transitions. As I was reminded on a recent teleconference, we offer parity with, not charity to, our partners as we seek to serve, not merely help them. AND they do need help sometimes! A devastating fire on March 15th destroyed 3 families’ barns, animals, hay, and equipment. Please be generous in helping them recover by making a donation today.
We have covenanted with our partner church in Homoródύjfalu to help the young people of the village further their education at the secondary and college level. Our current needs are to support 21 students at $400 per year, and we‘re falling way short of the $8,400 goal. Did you know that you can make ongoing donations to our Partner Church online through the UUCB website? Visit http://uucb.org/our-community/donate-online.html to contribute one time or to set up a monthly donation. Will you become a monthly donor at $10 or more to help meet this challenge?
NEWS FLASH – Another retirement! Anne Greenwood is stepping down as co-chair of the Transylvanian Partner Church committee after more than 13 years, and 23 years of involvement. Now is the time to revitalize this long-standing relationship, and co-chair Stephanie Ann Blythe has said she will lead the charge! In the words of Josh Searle-White, now is the time for us to ask ourselves “What is Needed?” What relationships do we want and how do we nurture them among and between ourselves and our co-religionists?
We have a long, successful relationship with the village of Homoródúfalu in the Transylvanian region of Romania. These ethnic Hungarian Unitarians have been buoyed up by our visits, our interest in them, and our support of their young people in gaining an education. But what have we gained? After seven visits to that village and many cards, letters, Facebook exchanges, and more I have international friends, women and men, who know my name and greet me with hugs. I have watched their children grow up and become translators for us while pursuing new careers and leading the way into the age of technology. I have a deeper understanding of the underpinnings of my faith and an appreciation of the perseverance and dedication of these wonderful people to their culture, their church, and their faith. It has been a great joy and one of the most meaningful engagements of my life as a member of this congregation.
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