The Partner Church program aims to facilitate exchanges at the parish level between North American UU’s and Unitarians in other countries. Our Partner Church is the Bozod Unitarian Church located in the Transylvania region of Romania.
Our association with the Partner Church program began in 1995, spearheaded by Bob Towers, a member of UUCJ. Religiously, middle Europe- Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia- were largely Unitarian in the 15th and early 16th centuries. The conversion to Catholicism relentlessly and thoroughly moved eastward and took over Unitarianism. Catholics burned Unitarian martyr Francis David at the stake because he would not convert to Trinitarianism. Unitarian churches today are largely located in more inaccessible rural area where the conversion potential was less.
After World War I, part of Austria -Hungary (as loser) was carved up somewhat. The Unitarian areas of the Carpathian Mountains were ceded to Romania. Life for the ethnic Hungarians, as a minority in the nation of Romania, in which a different language was spoken and a different religion was practiced, was not a happy venture.
At the end of World War II, the Romanian Communist party restricted religious practices in general. Freedom improved after the communist regime ended, but young people began leaving the small villages for cities and a better way of life, basically leaving their Unitarian roots.
Our church has been paired with two Unitarian congregations. Our first partner was located in a village that the government decided should be a reservoir, and the village was flooded. Our current partner for the past 22 years is with the Unitarian church in Bozod, Mures, Romania. This church is over 200 years old.
Involvement was fairly active until 2000, when Bob Towers could no longer head the committee. It was reactivated in 2007, when partnership resumed under the leadership of Marta Zsemberovszky and Donna Janesky. Marta and Tom Dumas, a church member, made trips to Bozod in 2008. Marta, a native of Hungary, was made our official Ambassador to Bozod in 2009, when she moved to the village upon retiring here in the U.S. Our church held various fund-raising activies, including Hungarian Dinners, travelogues, gift exchanges, ornament sales, etc. In 2009, nine church members and two friends of the church traveled to Transylvania with John Dale, a UUPCC minister and his wife, Scilla. The group spent three days in Bozod as guests of the villagers. Their 21-day trip took them to Romania, Austria, and Hungary. All will attest to this trip being one of the best they have ever taken.
In 2010, Donna Janesky nominated Marta for a Sustaining Steward Award, which she received at the General Assembly where 20 recipients were honored.
In 2012, our minister, Ron Hersom, and several other church members made a pilgrimage to Bozod. Ron stayed with minister Levente Fazekas and his wife and has related fond memories of this trip.
Future projects: In October of 2017, we plan to bring the Bozod minister, Levente Fazekas and his wife Angela, here to spend some time with us at UUCJ. It will be their first trip to America. We applied for and received a $500.00 grant from the UUPCC for this purpose, and will use funds raised from Hungarian dinners and donations. We are excited about this project and hope it will kindle some interest in future trips to Bozod and more involvement of our youth.
Why should I do this?
- BE a bridge that connects congregations around the world
- REACH across boundaries to collaborate with old and new partners
- CREATE transformational opportunities for pilgrimage and hospitality, for learning and for service
- CHALLENGE ourselves theologically and open ourselves to changed values and behaviors
- ESTABLISH global community as a common commitment of liberal religion
- INITIATE partnerships that promote global friendships, international awareness, human rights, and a better world
Contact Donna Janesky, or fill out the form below and someone will be in touch!