Church Planting Partnership

2016. április 29., péntek

From April 9-19, 2016, a delegation from the Debrecen Reformed University Congregation visited the Reformed Church in America’s (RCA) Great Lakes Region, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in order to present a report on the growth and success of the University Congregation in Hungary. The congregation has been receiving support from the RCA’s congregations for years and wanted to show their appreciation for their brothers and sisters in Christ in America as well as share their valuable experiences in church planting. 

The Debrecen Reformed University Congregation, which belongs to the Transtibiscan Reformed Church District has been receiving financial and professional support from the RCA’s congregations in and around Grand Rapids for many years.  The Luminex Global Collaborative, a recently launched partnership of the RCA and the Reformed Church in Hungary to share experiences on church planting in a secular context, has already strengthened congregations by supporting the missions of Debrecen Reformed University Congregation. There are now three new church plants in Debrecen as well as several new congregations in USA due to this important support network.

The contact person between Debrecen and RCA is Doug McClintic, Church Multiplication Catalyst.

The delegation from the Transtibiscan Reformed Church District was led by Bishop Károly Fekete, Ph.D. and also included Dániel Püski and Gergő Kovács, both university pastors, as well as Dóra Szécsi, a theology student already serving in a church [exmissus]. The most important parts of the official program were the presentation of the achievements of the partnership between congregations and the presentation of the life of the congregations that are operating on three different campuses in Debrecen. During Sunday worship services, greetings were expressed and a short film about the three campuses of the Debrecen Reformed University Congregations was shown to the churches in Michigan who have been supporting the efforts.

Michigan congregations that participated in the visit of the Bishop included Harbor Churches, Fifth Reformed Church Grand Rapids, Community Reformed Church Zeeland, Centerpoint Church Kalamazoo and the Great Lakes Region RCA.

On Sunday, April 10, Gergő Kovács and Dóra Szécsi took part in Kalamazoo’s worship service, while Bishop Károly Fekete, Ph.D. and Dániel Püski took part in the Fifth Reformed Church’s service.

On Monday, Doug McClinit shared general information about the RCA's past, their church planting program, and about the church's current situation with the international guests. In the afternoon, the delegation from Debrecen was a part of the hearing of the church’s organizing committee in the center of Grand Rapids, where delegates from three congregations deliberated about the foundation of a new congregation, the creation a financial background for the proposed new congregation, and about the criteria for the selection of the new pastor.

On Tuesday, April 12,  Bishop Fekete had a talk with Tom De Vries, General Secretary of the RCA, in the RCA’s hall in Grand Rapids, where De Vries, as the leader if RCA’s Synod, presented the outcomes of the  congregation growth, revitalization, and church planting efforts to Bishop Fekete. He explained the “Transformed and Transforming” synod project in great detail, which began in 2013 and will end in 2028 and prepares for the RCA’s 400-year anniversary. The project has three strategic purposes:   1) to help others become more Christ-like; 2) to hold leadership training for small groups in congregations according to the Protestant doctrine of the universal priesthood, stating that both lay people and clergy have direct access to God; and 3) to promote the commitment to the church of Christ.

Bishop Fekete met the head of the Church District, Pastor Richard D. Veenstra, and his advisor, Art Wiers, who discussed the special project of their district, the congregation foundation movement. There are currently 1100 congregations, of which 300 were founded in the last 10 years by the congregation foundation movement.

The members of the Tiszántúli delegation and the members of the collaborating congregation’s mission committees, along with senior pastors and other responsible persons, shared their experiences during several daily meetings and also took part in various congregation visits.

On Friday, on the way to Lake Michigan, they walked around the campus of Western Theological Seminary, whose buildings are maintained by the RCA.  The well-stocked library and the university chapel’s attractive liturgical space were especially fascinating to the visiting Hungarians.

On Saturday, the group journeyed to Illinois for a Chicago City Sightseeing tour and in the afternoon a plane arrived with eight students from Debrecen Reformed Theological University, led by Pastor Zoltán Berta. The university students are all very active members of the Debrecen Reformed University Congregation. Their study tour began at Willow Creek Community Church, where the group of students joined with congregation members for their regular Saturday evening series titled, “Celebration of Hope”; Don Phillips, a South African pastor, and Christine Caine, an Australian pastor, also joined for Saturday evening’s program.

On April 17, the members of the delegation went in two groups to the Debrecen Reformed University Congregation partner’s worships. In the morning they visited six different worships in four different locations and thanked Fair Haven Church, Jamestown Harbor Church, South Harbor Church, and Centralpoint Church Kalamazoo for their vital support.  On Sunday night the whole Hungarian delegation participated in Grand Valley State University’s Congregation where three thousand university students warmly welcomed their reformed Christian brothers and sisters from Debrecen.

Website of the Transtibiscan Reformed Church District

Translation by Krisztina Fürjész

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PO Box: 1140 Budapest 70, Pf. 5

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Our church through American eyes

We encourage you to read our  former GM intern Kearstin Bailey's blog about her time, spent in Hungary.