Through the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council, there exists a long-standing partnership between the Unitarian Church of Sharon and a small Unitarian congregation in Gyulakuta (Fintinele), Romania, and its minister, the Rev. Erika Demeter. This partnership helps to support her ministry and to foster ties with fellow Unitarians in Transylvania.
Assistance on a regular basis is provided for car maintenance and fuel to help the minister reach three congregations and their members. Funds are raised to support special needs that are identified by the minister. Assistance on a regular basis is provided for car maintenance and fuel to help the minister reach three congregations and their members. Funds are raised to support special needs that are identified by the minister.
Christmas 2010 Visit from Our Partner Church Family
Reverend Erika Demeter, and her family felt welcome among us. It was enlightening to experience our connection with the Unitarians of Transylvania firsthand. And it was fun, for them and for us. Erika wrote after her return to Rumania: I am really happy to hear the news that some people would love to come to Transylvania. We will be very happy to give back the hospitality that the congregation and especially the Paul and Colleen Tuck family gave us. When we began our trip, I had a feeling that we were like the “holy family” looking for a place to stay. As the days went by our experience was much different than that of the story because we found everywhere warm with hospitality and wonderful people.
On both sides, we hope the relationship with our partner minister and our partner congregation will grow and deepen, with ongoing support and communication. Jim and Erika have talked about some ideas already, and it would be good to have a small committee to work on them. If you are interested, please contact Rev. Jim Robinson or Beth McGregor.
What is our partner congregation in Gyulakuta, Romania like? Their minister, Erika Demeter, expressed it well in a letter to our congregation. “We have nothing. We haven’t a church. We haven’t capital. We are just 48 people come from different Unitarian places, but we exist and we want to have a spiritual religious life together.”
There are over 200 Unitarian congregations in Romania, in cities, small towns, and villages. Our partner congregation, Gyulakuta, is in some ways typical and in others not. Unlike many of the Unitarian churches which date back centuries and occupy simple but beautiful old buildings, the Gyulakuta congregation is very small and fairly new, in a town with no Unitarian tradition, and has no building. Now a town of 6000, the village of Fintinele/Gyulakuta was chosen by the government in the ’60s as the site of an enormous power plant and other industry, built right in the center, with large concrete apartment blocks to accommodate the workers. Thus although it is in a beautiful, picturesque rural area, it is not a particularly scenic town. Like a number of state-owned industries started under Communism, the plant was poorly constructed and maintained and did not fulfill its potential.
Most of the members of our partner congregation moved to Gyulakuta from other small towns for work. They include teachers, office and factory workers, a few small farmers, and retirees (who live on small pensions badly eroded by Romania’s chronic inflation). Like many people in Transylvania, their first language is Hungarian. Transportation to other towns with Unitarian churches is not easy, so they formed this small and struggling fellowship, which meets on Sunday afternoons in the hall of the local Calvinist church. Their minister, Erika Demeter, conducts their services once a month and on holidays. They have little in material goods, but are rich in strength, good will, good humor, and friendship for each other.
View photographs of Unitarians in Transylvania, including Erika and Levente.