Your Grace, Your Honour, Esteemed Professor, Esteemed Presbytery, Esteemed Celebrating Congregation, Dear Reformed Brothers and Sisters,
The Hungarian Reformed Church has had an intense week. Last Sunday, we inaugurated a Reformed nursery school on Svábhegy, yesterday we established a university in a Reformed Church stronghold, in Sárospatak, today we’re inaugurating a church, and not just any church. A church is a sign that we believe in God, and therefore look to the future with faith. Our churches are lighthouses: when a new one is built, the light in the world becomes brighter.
This Sunday afternoon is stirring up thoughts and emotions in us. A whirlwind of emotions and thoughts starts revolving all at once around individual accomplishment, the strength of the community, and the historical mission of the Hungarian people. The light of this church consecration afternoon also places certain civilisational processes in a peculiar light. All this agitation is happening to us now because we are under the influence of this church. Our own example testifies to the old truth that first we shape our buildings so that they shape us after. As we stand here, we are struck by a profound feeling of respect for every member of the congregation, and especially for Minister János Börzsönyi and Deacon Miklós Farkas. Those who have ever had a house built know what a difficult task it is, how crushing the responsibility is to ensure that everything goes well and happens in good time.
Dear Reformed Brothers and Sisters,
These days, there are ever fewer occasions when, in addition to the government of the day, we also find private individuals among the sponsors of a major venture. We sincerely hope that this is only so because the economy is soaring right now, and everything that needs to happen happens, everything that needs to be built is built also without personal donations on a larger scale. We sincerely hope that this only means that in less plentiful years – because we elder people know that less plentiful years inevitably come – we will have an abundant supply of generous donations. However, our situation today is different. It’s different because Professor Bagdy became the biggest patron of the construction project as a private individual. Though perhaps the government may have contributed a larger sum to this project, no one took on a bigger burden – so that we can stand here today – than the Esteemed Professor. Thank you.
I must also say a few words about Imre Makovecz who in the twilight of his life dreamt up this church. The old master, using his waning strength, agreed to help the Pesterzsébet Reformed Church congregation to a church. His handprints are undeniably there on this church, everyone who casts just a glance at the silhouette of this building can see that. We don’t normally use the word ‘indigenous’ in the context of buildings. Yet, every building that Makovecz had anything to do with evokes that feeling. Indigenous to the Carpathian Basin. From the whirlwind of great individual accomplishments resulting in the birth of the building, the figure of Tamás Dósa-Papp stands out as well. He agreed to elaborate and to commit to paper that which his old master had no time left to create.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing Imre Makovecz’s plans, elaborating the details and adjusting them to the community’s needs is indeed a thankless task. You can fail a thousand different ways in the process. There is always someone who sees something different, who would have continued differently. That we now stand here is proof of the fact that Tamás Dósa-Papp can hope for the approval of the congregation and posterity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
And the strength of the local community, too, comes to mind then. The building that we stand in also serves as a means to deliver the message that in Pesterzsébet there is a Reformed Church congregation which believes in its own future. A church is not built for a year or two. We hear so much about the fact that Christian communities are dying out, and not only in war-stricken places far away from us, but also in the peaceful West nearby. How good it is that this is not so in Hungary.
Esteemed Reformed Brothers and Sisters,
We Hungarians have been a church-building nation for a thousand years. At the time of St. Stephen, many besides ourselves could say the same about themselves. We’re living in different times now. There are ever fewer, rather than more church-building nations in Europe.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today Western Europe is in a phase of losing its cultural and civilisational ground and balance. The great historical role and mission that Christian European civilisation fulfilled in the past five hundred years is withering and slowly evaporating. It has abandoned its sense of purpose, its cultural and spiritual heritage, it has simply thrown its future away. At times like this, I remember how many wanted to integrate us and how many times into a world where churches are built no longer, only mosques. The wider significance of today’s occasion truly unfolds in light of this historical situation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We don’t want to abandon the path we have trodden for a thousand years. We don’t want either to abandon or to drift off that path. This is possible if we realise that the state and church communities must cooperate. This cooperation is sanctified by our Fundamental Law. In a democracy resting on Christian foundations it is not only a task, but also the duty of the state to take responsibility for traditional communities, from the family through congregations to the nation. The Fundamental Law lays this down as follows: “The protection of the constitutional identity and Christian culture of Hungary shall be an obligation of every organ of the State.” Our history teaches us that Hungarians can only survive as Christians. A country locked within borders, but a spirit without borders. That’s Hungary. We’re not only a church-building nation, but in order to survive we must be a church-building nation. Each and every new church is a bastion in the struggle for the nation’s freedom and greatness. Therefore, Dear Reformed Brothers and Sisters, since 2010 in Hungary, in the territories of the Carpathian Basin inhabited by Hungarians we have built one hundred and fifty new Hungarian churches, and have refurbished more than three thousand churches in Hungary and beyond the borders.
Esteemed Celebrating Congregation,
We are in the Church of Unity. Unity and community-building are the future. So during harvest time, what comes to mind is that the Reformed congregation of Szabó-telep has already pruned the vines so that there be even more grapes for the Hungarian people next year. May that be so. Soli Deo gloria!