Translated Sermon #24: The Freedom of Faith and Conscience by Ferencz József

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonTheFreedomofFaithandConscience.

Summary of the sermon: The author, Ferencz József, was a Unitarian minister in the town of Kolozsvár until 1876, and Bishop of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church from 1876 through 1928. Please consult his wikipedia page to learn about his many significant contributions to the Transylvanian Unitarian Church.

This 16 page sermon was delivered in August of 1868 in Torda, during the synod to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Unitarian religion in Transylvania. According to Gellérd Imre, the unequalled expert on Transylvanian Unitarian sermonic literature, this is an “epoch-making” sermon for Unitarian ideals, and the best illustration of the thought processes of the author.  Thus, this sermon is a unique opportunity to understand the 19th century view of 300 years of Unitarian history and the outlook into the future  from a speaker who was destined to lead the Unitarian Church for 52 years.

In the introduction Ferencz József explains the year for the establishment of the Unitarian Church to the year 1568, because that same year was the year when the Transylvanian law securing freedom of faith and conscience was enacted.

In the first part he describes the historic events related to the fulfillments and the degradations of the freedom of faith and conscience. This part ends with the death of Dávid Ferencz, and the subsequent intolerance and cleansing.

In the second part he describes the effect of the French Revolution in resurrecting freedom of faith and conscience, and the changes in religious that followed. This part ends with acknowledgement of Unitarianism taking hold in England and in America, and the presence of a more tolerant attitude towards Unitarians in Transylvania.

In the third part he explains how education is a key to create a kind of humanity where enlightened thinking will forever prevent discrimination and prosecution based on religious difference.

Technical note: The author’s name and the Hungarian names in the body of the sermon and in the above summary are shown in their Hungarian form (Family name then Given name), and using the letters with diacritical marks.

Translated Sermon #23: The Word of Life by Simén Domokos

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonTheWordofLife.

Summary of the sermon:This sermon challenges us to measure our speech, our communications against the “word of life” of Jesus. Simén Domokos passes down his flame of enthusiasm to us by imploring us to make an effort to live up to that high standard. The sermon was written in 1990, the year after the revolution toppled the Communist rule and its restrictions on the Transylvanian Unitarian Church. The sermon, in a way, is a reminder that the example of Jesus is eternal, and his words are relevant even to those who were distracted by the words of the Communist regime.  In 2020, the relevance of the sermon to social media is unmistakable.

Simén Domokos was a minister in the town of Csikszereda till 2001; he passed away in 2006. The Csikszereda church is partnered with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock, Manhasset, NY.

 

Translated Sermon #22: I Believe in the Eternal Life by Dr. Szabó Árpád

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonIBelieveintheEternalLife.

Summary of sermon: The topic of this Easter sermon is the promise of eternal life, the promise of rebirth as  a person and as a community.  Dr. Szabó Árpád asks “Can we become the people of Easter?” The affirmative answer is spelled out for us.

Dr. Szabó Árpád was the 30th bishop of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church. He studied at Meadville Lombard Theological School in 1977-78;  he was an active participant in the affairs of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU); he was awarded the Louis C. Cornish “Living the Mission” award by the UU Partner Church Council in 2007. He passed away in 2010.

Translated Sermon #21: Concio XCIV by Enyedi György

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonConcioXCIV.

Summary of sermon: The author of the sermon deserves as much attention as the topic.  Enyedi György was the third bishop of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church, until his death in 1597. He is called in some Hungarian language literature as the “Unitarian Plato”, because most of his writings and sermons focuses on the explanations of Bible verses.  He is noted for using everyday, mundane metaphors to teach the congregation about the meaning behind the words of Christ.  Hungarian translations of the Bible began to spread in his time, and it was important to teach churchgoers on their mother tongue about it.

The topic of the sermon was a constant task in Enyedi’s life: encouragement of the persecuted Transylvanian Unitarian believers that despite their small numbers, and despite the strife that historical events brought to their doorstep, there is a great reward is awaiting them.  This is kind of sermon that earned Enyedi the title “Unitarian Plato”, because he is teaching with all his ability, no holds barred; observe the range of Bible quotes he deploys to support his message!

In this sermon you look through a window into late XVIth century Transylvania, and hear the words of a contemporary of Shakespeare.  So, sit back, relax, allow your time machine to take you back to around 1594, and enjoy this gem of a sermon, available the first time in English.

Translated Sermon #20: The Treasure of the Church by Nyitrai Berta

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonTheTreasureoftheChurch.

Summary of sermon: The sermon was written in 1973.   The sermon is using a personal story about the Transylvanian Unitarian Hymnal to reveal what is the most important, essential treasures of the church.  Both the building, and the church in the heart.  The circumstances of the writer of this sermon is also something to think about.  Nyitrai Berta was the wife of Nyitrai Mózes (the unitarian minister in the village of Homoródkarácsonyfalva).  Berta was a minister, and she also was, what we would call, a choir director at the church.   She was arrested in 1959 on charges that she committed acts that challenged the ruling communist order. She was sentenced to 25 years of prison.  She received amnesty in 1964, and then followed her husband who became the minister in the village of Vadad.    Her grandson, Dr. Kecskés Csaba, is currently the minister of the unitarian church at Marosvásárhely Kövesdomb.  That is the partner of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady.

Translated Sermon #19: Concio CXV by Enyedi György

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonConcioCXV.

Summary of sermon: The author of the sermon deserves as much attention as the topic.  Enyedi György was the third bishop of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church, until his death in 1597. He is called in some Hungarian language literature as the “Unitarian Plato”, because most of his writings and sermons focuses on the explanations of Bible verses.  He is noted for using everyday, mundane metaphors to teach the congregation about the meaning behind the words of Christ.  Hungarian translations of the Bible began to spread in his time, and it was important to teach churchgoers on their mother tongue about it.

The topic of the sermon could be a motto for Enyedi’s life: learning about the words of Christ, and teaching and admonishing others.  The discussion includes reasoning about why go to church, why there is so much to learn about the word of Christ, how can we learn about the words of Christ when he is no longer with us, why reading the Bible in in the native language expands its interpretations, why we ought to teach each other, what you should do when it comes to sing in church, but you can’t sing,.  In this sermon you look through a window into late XVIth century Transylvania, and hear the words of a contemporary of Shakespeare.  So, sit back, relax, allow your time machine to take you back to around 1594, and enjoy this gem of a sermon, available the first time in English.

Translated Sermon #18: Our Fulfillment by Nyitrai Mózes

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonOurFulfillment.

Summary of sermon: The sermon was written in 1991.   The sermon is urging us to do all we can to reach the highest level of development of our souls: become one with God. Because Jesus,a flesh and blood human, has reached that level, we have a path pointed out for us.  The circumstances of the writer of this sermon is also something to think about.  Nyitrai Mózes was an ordained unitarian minister in the village of Homoródkarácsonyfalva until 1958, when he was arrested on charges that he committed acts that challenged the ruling communist order. He was sentenced to 10 years of prison.  He received amnesty in 1964, and then he became the minister in the village of Vadad.   I wonder if the ideals explained in this sermon had helped him to maintain his dignity during that time of imprisonment, and after his release when he decided to continue to serve others through his ministry.  His grandson, Dr. Kecskés Csaba, is currently the minister of the unitarian church at Marosvásárhely Kövesdomb.  That is the partner of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady.

Translated Sermon #17: Your Soul, the Good Soil by Székely Kinga Réka

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonYourSoultheGoodSoil.

Summary of sermon: The sermon was written in 2016.   The sermon is based on the parable of the sower; whichever is the current state of our soul, we have the power to change it to be the good soil that will produce a crop.    Székely Kinga Réka is an ordained Transylvanian unitarian minister serving as minister at the Homoródszentpéter church.  They are partnered with the Unity Unitarian Church in st Paul Minnesota.    Székely Kinga Réka was a Balazs scholar in 1999-2000.

Translated sermon #16: The Spirit of Hope by Bálint Róbert Zoltán

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonTheSpiritofHope.

Summary of sermon: The sermon was written in 2009, as a New Year sermon.   The sermon is about how we can look forward to a better new year if we place our trust into God, as he gave us the spirit of power, and not the spirit of fear.    Bálint Róbert Zoltán is an ordained Transylvanian unitarian minister serving as minister at the Mészkő church.  They are partnered with the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.    Bálint Róbert Zoltán was a Balazs scholar in 2009-2010.

Translated Sermon #15: The Empty Hand by Pap Mária

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonTheEmptyHand.

Summary of sermon: The sermon was written in 2015, and presented at the Fall Thanksgiving service in Kolozsvár.   The sermon is about how we might be grateful to God, eventhough we may not hold anything in our hands.    Pap Mária is an ordained Transylvanian unitarian minister who served the congregations of Szentivánlaborfalva and Kézdivásárhely.  She was a Balazs scholar in 2003-2004.   At the time of this translation she is the unitarian minister at the Old Meeting House Unitarian Chapel at Mansfield, United Kingdom.

Transylvanian Unitarian college and high schools

for partner churches

for seminaries and schools of divinity

HUNGARIAN UNITARIAN CHURCH HOLIDAYS

ABOUT SZEKELY CULTURAL IDENTITY

MAGYARUL BESZÉLŐKNEK