Roma ministry in Jánd

Jánd has a population of approximately 775 of which 82% claimed themselves as Hungarians and 18% as Roma in 2001. This northern Hungarian village on the bank of the Tisza river has made an extraordinary attempt to reach out to Roma youth in order to create a collaborative relationship between Roma and Hungarians that goes beyond denominations and institutions.

The initiative for this collaboration in the Szabolcs- Bereg Presbytery was given by Klára Szücs M., the current coordinator of the Roma ministry of the Reformed Mission Centre. Her idea was to organize worship days for the youth in Jánd preparing for Confirmation. The presbytery in Jánd decided in favour of it, and the first worship day, named “Fellow Man" was held on 25 October 2009 with 51 participants in the church and local school. Not only were young people from Jánd presented, but so were others from the surrounding area: Ilk, Rétközberencs and Barabás.

The organizers found it very important that young Roma take part in the life of the congregation, because they form an essential part of it. Hopefully by giving them love and care, they will continue as members of the congregation even after they complete Confirmation and finish their educations.

When asked about her motivation for the worship day, Éva Forró, the village’s Reformed pastor, mentioned the hardship of living together. She asserted that the public administration law had not helped to lighten such serious issues, and she felt that the Reformed Church in Hungary should take action. She believes it crucial that in the eyes of Christ we are all equal, therefore everyone should be given a chance to receive proper attention. They want more and more young people to take part in Confirmation and stay involved in the life of their congregation since there is an extreme problem with people leaving the community in pursuit of schools and jobs.

Part of the program is spreading the Gospel, cooking, spending joyful quality time together, and of course developing skills essential to everyday life, e.g. health and hygiene knowledge. The children take part in cooking and they especially enjoy the decoration of chocolate doughnuts. The congregation helps by facilitating the event and giving potatoes, oil, etc. There is always time to talk about the children's needs and dreams too. They are asked how they want to spend their free time (football is always mentioned) and what they want to study. Many of them claim that they would like to become carpenters, artists or engineers. They all enjoy the worship days, the summer camps, and the Bible stories pastors read out to them. The congregation in Jánd has become sure of the children's need for such actions and care.

Naturally, the events put adults in a high spirit as well. They are eager to come and help out. Éva Forró feels that especially on such a day one can really feel the presence of Christ and the urgent need for openness and kindness. These children need to be received into our hearts and prayers, thus ensuring a strong congregation. And when they are received they will become receivers as well: children in Jánd and in the neighbourhood organize programs together with deaf children and worship days are followed by camps, so the process never ends.

According to Linda Gabriella Dacsó, President of the Minority Municipality in Jánd, a gap exists between the Roma and the rest of the community. However, it is in the essence of the Reformed Church to reach out in order to tear down the walls between Roma and non-Roma. For this very reason, the participants of the programme are not only Roma children, but non-Roma as well. The president is sure that in an initiative where God is in the center, people can be brought together. Jánd has long-term plans: first of all, they want to spread the word that this programme has proved to be successful in this small community. Secondly, the Minority Municipality and the Congregation together will discuss the relevant EU applications, which Jánd could apply. These would not only affect young people but adults as well. Fighting against deep- poverty is a truly blessed mission.

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Reformed Church in Hungary

Address: H-1146 Budapest, Abonyi utca 21.   

PO Box: 1140 Budapest 70, Pf. 5

Phone/Fax: + 36 1 460 0708 


Our church through American eyes

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