Staying True amidst Changing Context

2018. november 23., péntek

The General Secretary of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), Gustav Claassen visited Hungary, in his speech at the Synod he emphasized: similarly to the Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) DRC is also continuously trying to find the answer to the question of what it means to stay true to the Reformed confessional basis amidst changing contexts. The South African church leader mentioned three practical examples.

Dr. Gustav Claassen, general secretary of DRC greeted leaders of our Synod with the words of Apostle Paul written in 1 Thessalonians 1, 2-3. He highlighted: “through many years, God has been faithful in gathering and building you into his flock, it is important to say thank you for His every dedicated servant”. The general secretary also expressed his gratitude for the exceptional partnership of DRC and RCH, as he said: “your faithfulness has encouraged us through all these years”.

RCH has partner churches on four continents, it’s been working together with DRC since 2011. Negotiations about the partnership started in 2005, the official partnership agreement has been signed in 2011. The two churches recognize each other’s’ pastors and focus on exchanging experience on the field of social teachings (public theology). Besides, the two churches co-operate on the field of youth work, the missional renewal of congregations, on the field of opening the past and social reconciliation as well as theological education and avoiding global catastrophes. 

After his opening thoughts, Gustav Claassen shed light on the challenges members of DRC are facing in South Africa. The severe draughts, social, political and economic turmoil result in serious proving of their members. He emphasized though that despite cultural and language barriers, together with other churches in ecumenical bodies they are striving to give a credible and prophetic witness about justice and reconciliation. Their goal is to bravely speak up against injustice, as He said, they have results: “Thanks to our service, the society recognizes our church more and more day-by-day. Today it is not rare that DRC is trusted as an important facilitator of peace and reconciliation in volatile situations.”

 DRC is currently in a process of missional transformation, according to the general secretary they are working on strengthening and renewing their missional identity. As he stated: “As a church like the RCH who treasures its Calvinistic legacy we continuously try to ask the question of what is means to stay true to our reformed confessional basis amidst changing contexts.”

The DRC is trying to find the answer with a new vision. The general secretary introduced three important aspects of it: “We are tempting to discerning what God is already doing in the different contexts where DRC is present and how we can take part in Gods movements towards the world. A second focus area is reaching out to the under-privileged in disadvantaged communities.  In this regard DRC is one of the biggest NGO’s in South Africa, we impact approximately 10 percent of our national population. Last but not least we are fighting for justice and reconciliation, nine strategic locations have been identified nationally where we will address the issues of justice and reconciliation.”

The general secretary called for prayers in his final words for the growth of the RCH-DRC partnership and for the faithful serving as well as that members of both churches will be able to be part of God’s mission.

Bishop István Bogárdi Szabó encouraged our South African brothers and sisters: “amidst many difficulties, when it is easy to lose the way, may the light of our Lord’s words and the Holy Spirit guide your church!” RCH’s Presiding Bishop in his opening speech stated: “We carry South Africa and the members of the country’s reformed churches in our hearts, worrying news are coming from the country, they face many difficulties. We hope that the process of reconciliation that started after the fall of the Apartheid-system won’t fade away and the followers of Christ and members of the churches will find each other and the country that suffered so much will find its inner peace.”

After its speech, Gustav Claassen met colleagues of the mission department – Eszter Dani head of the mission department and colleagues of the mission department. Later he met pastors and regional mission coordinators and he also visited the implementing partner of RCH in refugee integration, Kalunba Social Services Ltd and Reformed Roma communities of Jánoshalma and Kiskunhalas.

 Written by Péter Szűcs

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