Partner Church – Csekefalva

Rev. Tony Lorenzen visited our partner church in Csekefalva in July, 2016.

Our congregation has a partner church in Csekefalva, a small village in Transylvania, Romania.

Unitarianism began its modern renaissance in what is now Transylvania in the 16th century with a declaration of religious freedom from King John Sigismund at the Diet of Torda, following an argument by a Unitarian preacher, David Ferenc (Francis David).   This is a translation of the proclamation by the Sate Alexander St. Ivanyi, a onetime Unitarian bishop in Hungary, who went into exile after World war II and served as a Unitarian Minister in the United States for many years.

“His Majesty, our Lord, in whatever manner he—together with his realm [i.e. the Diet]—legislated in the matter of religion at the previous Diets, in the same manner now, in this Diet, he reaffirms that in every place the preachers shall preach and explain the Gospel each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, well, if not, no one shall compel them for their souls would not be satisfied, but they shall be permitted to keep a preacher whose teaching they approve. Therefore none of the superintendents or others shall abuse the preachers, no one shall be reviled for his religion by anyone, according to the previous statutes, and it is not permitted that anyone should threaten anyone else by imprisonment or by removal from his post for his teaching, for faith is the gift of God, this comes from hearing, which hearing is by the word of God.”

Hopedale Unitarian Parish and the Unitarian Parish of Csekefalva  have been partners in faith since the late 1990s and share the religious and the everyday parts of our lives, and support and visit each other.  We are getting to know each other better and better and realize that at the base of this relationship is the understanding that we “don’t have to think alike to love alike”.

The minister of the village’s Unitarian parish is Rev. Noémi Moldován Szeredai.  She lives in the parsonage with her husband Gergely and their two young daughters Eszter (born 2000) and Lilla (born 2007).

Description and History

Csekefalva is an agrarian village of 500 nestled in a valley just north of the small city Szekelykerestúr in the midst of rolling hills, woods and fields of Transylvania, Romania.  The village is made up of small lanes off a single center street.  It is dominated by the two churches, the Unitarian church and the Reformed church on opposite sides of the street.  Family fields of corn and hay rise up on both sides of the town with pastures, vineyards and the cemetery above and woods beyond the ridge.  While many in the village are farmers, others have jobs in Székelykeresztúr, which is about 3 miles away.  The high schools and trade school is also in this small city. Most houses host a large kitchen garden and a barnyard for a horse and several cows, pigs and chickens.

The people in the town are mostly of Hungarian origin. There is also a gypsy or Roma enclave. Transylvania was part of Hungary for close to 1000 years before being ceded to Romania in 1918 at the end of WWI.  The people of Romania are still in political and social transition from the many hard communist years leading up to their revolution in 1989.

Rev. Noémi Moldován Szeredai spent part of her religious training in Chicago at Mead Lombard seminary and was an intern at the Unitarian church in Bedford, MA in the mid 90’s.  Her vision for what is possible, her connectedness to the greater good and her indomitable practical sense, impress all those around her. Her 2002 trip to Hopedale enabled her to share that energy and warmth with the Hopedale Congregation.  Her husband Gergely is a history and geography teacher at the nearby Orban Balazs Gimnansium, which was founded in 1793 in the nearby city of Székelykeresztúr.

Our partnership helps us to understand the roots of Unitarianism and to be connected with Unitarians in Transylvania today.  Our connections are indeed “local” even with the great distance that separates us.

One of our recent programs was to provide educational support to the school-age children in the village.  With contributions from involved parishioners, we provided a stipend to support supplies, books and school fees.

We communicate by cards and letters, e-mail, phone and SKYPE.