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Our Partner Church

What a blessing it is to receive guests! They offer the opportunity to practice hospitality, they bring a fresh perspective, and their arrival creates the potential for the holiest thing there is: mutual appreciation and respect between people. And on top of it all, every now and then, they come baring presents.

So it was, this past Saturday when I received a guest from Transylvania here at the church. Laszlo Lorinczi was in the United States as a guest of the First Parish in Concord, MA – that congregation, and his congregation in Szekelykeresztur (in Transylvania) have a long-standing and very active partnership. Laszlo made a special trip up from Concord to visit us because his son is Botond Lorinczi, the minister of the Unitarian church in Varosfalva Transylvania – which is our partner church.

The Unitarians of Transylvania – ethnic Hungarians who live within what is now Romania – are the oldest continuous Unitarian community in the world. They have been in existence for nearly 450 years (a century longer than our congregation, and more than 250 years longer than our congregation has been avowedly Unitarian). Persecution and repression kept the Hungarian and English-speaking Unitarian communities of the world largely ignorant of each other until the mid-1800s, but since then many connections have been forged between Unitarian Universalists in America and Unitarians in Transylvania. Our own congregation has a history of offering moral, political and at times financial support to our Eastern European cousins going back to the 1920s. As an ethnic, linguistic, and religious minority group, the Transylvanian Unitarians have lived an inspiring history of creative survival.

The Varosfalva congregation has been our formal partner church for just over 20 years now, an international friendship that connects us to the lived experience of Unitarianism in a different place and culture, and to the global movement of which we are a part. And it was because of this friendship that Laszlo brought us a letter and a set of gifts from his son, Botond, his family, and the rest of our partners in Transylvania. The letter contained the happy news that Botond and his wife Krisztina welcomed their first child this summer, a son named Mate. Included was a framed picture of the newly enlarged family, which will go on display here at our church.

Last year, we sent to Transylvania a picture of our assembled congregation in the sanctuary, and their letter mentioned that, “We always have your picture exposed in our church, so on every Sunday we think of you with great love and respect, and we have you in spirit in our church.” What a gift it is to be connected across oceans, to be thought of kindly by people in another land, and also to able to think of them, to feel connected to them, and know that in this world we are not alone. There are many different ways to be in the world. There are many different ways to be Unitarian in the world. And it is good to know that as we are living our religious quest here, there are others in other places – different from us, and yet also alike – who are doing the same. Perhaps it may be that in some coming year, we may receive the blessing of being able to welcome some folks from Varosfalva as our guests in person. Or even that some of us may be able to receive their hospitality. As Botond and his family closed their letter to us: “We send our best wishes to you with great love, hoping that we will see you in the nearby future!”

 

In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson

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First Parish Church

225 Cabot St

Beverly, MA 01915

978-922-3968

Office Hours: Mon 8:00 - 11:00 am & Tue-Fri 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

office@firstparishbeverly.org

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