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.
UU Organizations working around the world to promote sustainable development:
Those of us on the Transylvanian Partner Church Committee are fresh out of ideas, and I’m not so sure that fresh is the right word. Stale out of ideas? There’s only a handful of active members, and contributions to the Village Education Fund are not anywhere near coming up to the levels necessary to support students from Homoródújfalu. Guidelines suggest $500 or more annually per student. We’re far short of our own goal of $400 per student. Meanwhile, the number of students we try to support has doubled over the last several years.
Pilgrimages to Transylvania always stir interest within our congregation, but the high cost keeps us from going as often as we might wish. Bottom line, what do we need to do to create interest in our partner church, and what do we need to do to stimulate the financial support that is central to our mission? All of us get asked to support any number of causes along with our annual pledges and our current capital campaign pledges. How do we stand out from the crowd?
What do you say?
Köszönöm! (Thank you!)
Are you hungry? Got a yearning for some gulyas? (That’s goulash in Hungarian) Or maybe you want one of Hoa’s sandwiches, and maybe you want to support the students from our partner church in Homoródújfalu. Not hungry, but still want to support the students? How about some beautiful pottery from Korond, the world famous Transylvanian pottery village? The Partner Church Committee will be able satisfy any and all of your yearnings on both August 3 and August 10.
Come to the Transylvanian Snack Table on August 3, featuring gulyas, ham/cheese croissants, brownies, and other delectables. On August 10th Hoa Voscott will be selling his famous tomato/cheese on sourdough baguette sandwiches. All proceeds go to fund scholarships for students. As a bonus Transylvanian “thank you” gift for any donation of $25 or more, we will offer refrigerator magnets with Korond pottery tops while supplies last. Be the first to get one of these useful, beautiful handmade items.
Our partnership with the church and village of Homoródújfalu is at a crossroads right now, but the coming of our interim minister Greg Ward gives us the opportunity to examine this partnership and consider ways to strengthen and reaffirm the relationship with Homoródújfalu. Please let me or Anne Greenwood know your thoughts and we’ll discuss them with Rev. Greg.
Köszönöm! (Thank you!)
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!)
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