Partner Church Ministry
Our Partner Church in Torockoszentgyorgy
The first Unitarian churches were named in Transylvania in the 1500's. King John Sigismund chose the Unitarian faith for his own, which in those days meant that whatever religion the king was, was also the faith of the kingdom. However, he added a big caveat.an official Edict of Tolerance in 1568, which essentially said that everyone was free to attend the church of their own choosing. It was Ferenc David who impressed him during debates of Catholic, Calvinist, Unitarian and Lutheran. Unitarian Ferenc David is most known for his statement "We need not believe alike to love alike." You will see these words on the stained glass window at Westside UU.
The Unitarian churches in Transylvania (now Romania) were mostly Hungarian speaking, nestled in valleys of the Carpathian Mountains. These little villages suffered greatly under dictatorship in the 20th century, due to their double minority status of being Hungarian and Unitarian instead of Romanian and Orthodox. Unitarian Universalist churches in the US began developing "partner" relationships with the churches in Transylvania. These relationships are for mutual benefit. The US UUs get to learn of how Unitarians in Transylvania held onto their faith against all odds, when it was very difficult to do. We get to witness their courage and the deep commitment they have to the unity of god and to community. The Unitarians in Transylvania benefit from our experiences in organizing different kinds of programs in churches, such as Religious education for children, and pastoral care ministry. And we get to understand, mutually, how much we have in common, despite very different cultures. We get to come to love each other! We have periodic "pilgrimages" to our partner church in Torockoszentgyorgy. The last adult pilgrimage was in 2008. Some pictures of that trip are on this page.
Recently we reflected upon what our partnership with Torockószentgyörgy Unitarian Church and its members means to us:
- A chance to listen deeply and learn from our partners of their dreams and goals.
- A chance to share our village pilgrimage with our American congregations and in the wider community.
- Creating the web of global community by making one friendship at a time.
- It expands our lives and reduces isolation.
- It brings appreciation of our Unitarian history and heritage.
- We can share our village experience with our Religious Education programs.
- It is a personal religious experience.
- It is a way of supporting a culture and its traditions.
- Going to the village provides connection to childhood memories.
- Partnership gives a sense of shared values and problems.
- Making friends through cooperative projects.
- Opportunity to learn about another culture.
- Helping in a meaningful way – not just sending money.
- Learning each other’s understanding of partnership.
- Develop emotional ties and relationships.
- Keeping these connections.
- It means hard work, trust, and being truthful.
- It means shared love.
- Partnership is like a puzzle - two congregations in America & one in Transylvania - how to fit the pieces together.
- Learning about the goals of another culture.
- Sharing stories.
- We have partners to help with our American pilgrimage needs.
- Awareness of cultural differences.
- It means friendship and connections and meaningful travel experiences.
- Working as partners to identify needs and to help when we are able.
- Broadening our faith by incorporating Transylvanian Unitarian beliefs.
- It means personal growth.
The chairperson of our congregation's Partner Church Ministry is Ginger Brewer. We join with Eastshore Unitarian Church in Bellevue for our partnership with Torockoszentgyorgy.
If you would like to learn more about our partner church program or become an active team member, please contact Ginger Brewer at firstname.lastname@example.org.