Transylvania Partner Church Committee
Committee Mission and Goals
Our partner church program is a journey in relationship. The Transylvania Partner Church Committee (PCC) seeks to serve as a bridge between the Désfalva Unitarian church community and the First Church community through outreach, social action, personal contacts, and sharing of the joys and concerns of our two congregations. We seek to:
- Provide support and outreach to the church and village of Désfalva through scholarships, support of education programs, relief for the poor, and special projects;
- Maintain regular communication between the Désfalva and First Church congregations;
- Encourage and facilitate the formation of personal relationships between members of our two congregations;
- Share the pilgrimage experience with other First Church members through the annual partnership service and other events, using photographs, videos, and personal stories;
- Enrich First Church worship services and community through Transylvanian and Hungarian readings, food, music, art, and traditions.
History of the Partnership
In 1990 First Church joined the Partner Church movement and partnered with the Unitarian Church of Désfalva. Désfalva is a tiny farming village in the middle of Transylvania. About a third of Désfalva’s residents are Unitarian; there are also Calvinist Reformed and Eastern Orthodox churches in the village. The primary language of the village is Hungarian. Désfalva also has Roma (Gypsy) families. Whatever their profession, everyone in the village farms to provide basic needs.
Rev. Ferenc Bálint Benczédi was the minister of Désfalva at the time our partnership was formed. Hans de Muinck Keizer established the partnership and nurtured it for many years. Rev. Bálint Benczédi is now the Bishop of all Hungarian Unitarian churches and resides in Kolozsvár. Alfa Radford, now Minister of Music Emeritus, met Rev. Benczédi in Transylvania while on a choir tour in 1990. Pilgrims have been privileged to meet with the Bishop in 2010 and 2016, either in Désfalva or in Kolozsvár.
The Transylvania Partner Church Education Fund was established in 2001 by the Rev. Dr. Victor Carpenter and the Rev. Sándor Szentgyörgyi, ministers of First Church and Désfalva, respectively, in order to provide financial support to benefit high school and university students of Désfalva who could otherwise not attend school.
Pilgrimages between the two congregations have continued every few years and have been fruitful and inspiring experiences for those fortunate to participate. We continue to offer each other mutual support and love as we journey through life sharing our Unitarian heritage.
2013 pilgrimage to Belmont
2010 pilgrimage to Desfalva:
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