Hospital Ministry

Since the beginning of the 1990s the Reformed, the Roman Catholic, the Lutheran and the Greek Orthodox hospital chaplaincy have been improving in Hungary; not only in the church service but also in the state care institution. It seems to be a slow process: from recognising the need to full cooperation.

Health Care Chaplaincy of the Hungarian Reformed Church

It is important to point out, that human beings should not only be treated on a physical or psychological level but also on a spiritual level. This is why it is necessary to emphasize the importance of the spiritual dimension of healthcare as well, which is the responsibility of the work of chaplaincy in the system.

Although there are centuries-old traditions of pastoral care among the sick – the spiritual care was prohibited or illegal for 40 years in Hungarian hospitals. After 1990, when the hospital doors opened up again in front of the church services, numbers gave a warm welcome. In that time parish leaders reorganized hospital worships all over the country. Later full and part time chaplains started their counselling and service. Their number has been increasing ever since.

Establishing pastoral care and counselling in the health care system is not an easy or rapid process. Pastoral psychological education (including gaining knowledge of the system and a critical attitude towards it), training programs for chaplains (for example they should be able to communicate their aims and the specific nature of their job toward the workers of the health care system and the wide society effectively) and supervision successfully helped the "construction."
Recently when the whole health care system has been changing in Hungary - there are 33 Reformed chaplains in 26 cities. We try to work in ecumenical teams.

The Hospital Chaplaincy belongs to the Reformed Mission Centre, which coordinates the church's different mission services in society.

The present structure of our services:
There is a full spectrum of involvement from complete isolation to total integration. Chaplaincy should be integrated in the healthcare system, but there is no golden rule for the degree of integration: this is dependent on the people involved and the context. In any case, there must be a guarantee of the particular confidentiality linked to chaplaincy.

There are 3 types of chaplaincy in the Reformed Church, depending on the financial supporter of the position.
1. The status is run by the hospital – the professional pastoral care and counselling is supported and accepted by the institution and available for everybody.
2. The regional church runs the status – pastoral care is offered mainly for the members of different Reformed congregations – but it is available for others too, if they need help.
3. The status is run by the local church – the chaplain organises devotions and gives help on request.

Pastoral care in the health care system means:

  • Spiritual care, counselling patients, family members and staff.
  • To concentrate on the spiritual dimension of health-care, and make this dimension fully recognised
  • Helping people to make a connection between their own life story and stories of sacredness or human wisdom in relation to meaning and hope.
  • Participation in institutional work as an ethical and spiritual care provider.
  • To enable the health-care system to become more person-centered
  • Chaplaincy as specialists in the spiritual dimension, has the responsibility to take care of the whole person
  • Cooperation with other churches, as well as civil organisations.

Our plans for the future:

  • Improving professional pastoral care – we would like to demonstrate and emphasise its effect on care giving in hospitals and the congregations.
  • Pastoral care for hospital staff as an essential part of the institution (for example: "burn-out" prevention)
  • Strengthen the volunteers' work for visiting the sick – in hospitals and congregations
  • Increasing theological students' interests for chaplaincy

Contact us

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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.