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history of the Unitarian Church
of Csehétfalva 1999 - 2008
The history of the church is connected with the lives of me and my wife.
I was assigned to Csehétfalva by Bishop Árpád Szabó starting on the 1st of May in 1999.
Before this I was the religious
and the minister of Kolozs. In 1999 after
moving here to
still remember the day, on the 2nd
of May, when I gave my first sermon in
After getting to know the village and the landscape, it became clear that here, at ‘the end of the world’, the primary duty and work sustaining the hope and the spirit of the people, stressing the power of unity and the fulfillment of reachable goals. And all of this in a village where the people grow old and feel lonely. Every single effort, all the work of community building, every opportunity when and where we could be together, served this primary duty.
The Village and its Infrastructure
Csehétfalva is one of 14 villages which belong to the Siménfalva community. In the village there was no, and is no, doctor, nor is there a pharmacy or a police station, nor a post office. There was only one phone in the whole village used by everybody, but it became mute when it rained because the naked wires became short-circuited.
There were only five cars in the village. The bus came (and still comes) only three times a week: on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday afternoons. So if somebody wants to go to the doctor, or to the pharmacy, or has some official things to do that are out of the village, these were the only options. And this became the main problem because one of the cars was my old Dacia, and it became the primary means of transportation. Soon we became the ambulance (because the real ones were too slow) and we became the taxi for those who bought the pills, and for people who went to the offices to solve their official problems. And we were also the ones who gave a ride to those who needed it.
As we were the only ones who had the higher education people came to the parish house (our house) for every problem to consult with us and ask for help.
Soon we became the post office.
Then we became the telephone company, too, as we managed to buy a cell phone with the help of our partner church in Kelowna, BC. This phone was used by everyone in the village who needed it.
We also were the cable TV company for the village. This started during the time of József Szombatfalvi who was the minister here before we came. The cable TV company broadcasts two Hungarian channels so our village’s people could watch programs in their native language, since the only local channel broadcasted in Romanian.
My wife offered to take care of the Unitarian church’s tableware. The church has tableware for 100 people!
This little village at the end of the world was left out of the development of the infrastructure. The road was fixed every spring and fall by our local people. I called and asked the people to come so they did it. We went out and put gravel in the holes on the road. We worked with hand tools and horse wagons. In winter time when the snow was too deep or heavy we asked the horse owners to clean the road with a tool invented and made by ourselves and pulled by horses.
The other important thing has been to keep our buildings in good condition and to repair them when they become damaged. Every single year we are repairing and building.
A Brief History from 1999 to 2008
Here is a brief history of the main events and accomplishments over the years:
--- In 1999 - We transformed the Eastern part of the parish house, making a guest room and an office. We fixed the roof of the summer house and the roof over the front stairs of the parish house. We put the electricity to the garage.
--- In 2000 - We made a new entrance door for the back side of the parish house. In the church new seat cushions were made for the pews. Old stoves were fixed and put into the office and the fellowship room. The phone system and the internet were set up. The parish house gardens were restored.
My wife offered to teach in the village’s school because there was no teacher. She taught for a half a year before a new teacher came.
An important event of this year was my ordination on the 25th of October, attended by the Bishop.
---In 2001 - Wendy McNiven and her family visited us from our partner church in Kelowna, BC. They spent a week here and made the relationship and friendship stronger. We showed them the renovations we made using the money they sent us and our local physical labor.
New gutters were put on the church building, the parish house and the summer house.
The parish house was painted; a new fireplace was made in the living room. The outflow plumbing was changed in the kitchen and bathroom.
An important event was the anniversary of the Hungarian Millennium that we celebrated on Thanksgiving. A carved wood plaque celebrating the Memory of the Millennium was put in each of the churches in the three villages assigned to me.
---In 2002 - a new roof was made for the fellowship room. A fourteen meter fence was made around the parish house garden.
This year we did not build anything because my wife and I went to the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA. There, I studied practical theology and both of us enjoyed once-in-a-life-time experiences and made new friends. We left for California on the 2nd Sunday of August and came home a few days before Christmas. America was beautiful. Although a job was offered to me (to be a minister in a Hungarian congregation) we decided to come home. We just couldn’t stay and live there. We were called home by our native land, by duty, by our congregations and by the life so hard but still so good for our souls.
While we were in the states Rev. Pitó Attila Zoltán was the assistant minister in Csehétfalva.
---In 2003 - The parish house barn was renovated. The church received books from the Pro Hungaricus Foundation.
The most important event in this year was that the Romanian government returned the ownership of the Church’s forest to us. So from now on the forest provides the church with new income opportunities.
---In 2004 - The windows in the kitchen of the parish house were changed. A stove was put into the church building and the 1st World War memorial was repainted.
---In 2005 - We removed all the brush from the old cemetery and painted the parish house. On August 21st we organized a village meeting attended by around 300 people, Bishop Árpád Szabó and Dr. István Grezsa and Dr. Károly Berényi from Hódmezővásárhely, Hungary. Every inhabitant of the village was given the title of “Honorable Citizen of Hódmezővásárhely” by Dr. István Grezsa and Dr. Károly Berényi. We celebrated with them and dedicated a `kopjafa` in the church garden to our relationship with Hódmezővásárhely.
Two days after this lovely holiday the Nyikó River became a flood wave and brought death and misfortune never seen before all along its banks. The flood destroyed the bridge between Kobátfalva and Tarcsafalva, cutting off our village from the main road. Fresh water and food was brought from outside to the ruined bridge and from there was brought to the village in our cars. We worked with people from Csehétfalva in the flood area and helped in the cleanup work. We also collected money and food for the needy. Our church donated wood to the teacher in Csehétfalva whose home in Kobátfalva was damaged by the flood.
Wendy McNiven changed her job and left the Kelowna congregation. She was the primary person in our partnership and we worried what would happen to this partnership. Fortunately her work was carried on by Louise McKenzie.
In December, János Lazar, the mayor of Hódmezővásárhely together with members of their local government visited our village and church. The 43 persons were welcomed to the parish house with great love.
---In 2006 - We managed to get a position paid for by the government which is a big help for our congregation. So the church hired a person as the bell ringer.
We repaired the outside of the church building; replaced the stairs in the bell tower; and built a new fence around the parish house. Central heating was installed in the parish house.
In July a gravel pit was opened beside the road at the edge of the village. The positive impact has been that the village can now get materials easily. The negative impact has been that the entrance to the village is now very ugly. The beautiful, idyllic landscape has become ugly and muddy and the equipment has given it an industrial look. The owner of the mine promised to take care of the roads (his big trucks and equipment make serious damage) but he doesn’t keep his promises.
In this fall the district government fixed the road. We were very happy about it!
An important and outstanding event of this summer was the visit of a group of friends from Hungary, named International Ivó Cup. They were welcomed with a lunch in the garden near the church building.
The people of Csehétfalva, always proud of their ministers, were happy this year because I was asked to preach in the Unitarian World Meeting in Szejkefürdő.
---In 2007 - January 1st together with Romania we entered to the European Union. Along with hope for a better, safety and more truthful life there was an uncertainty and fear.
Because of our money shortfall (we needed a lot of money for the central heating) we didn’t plan big things for this year.
In spite of that, we did have one of the outstanding events of our life in July: the Orbán Balázs Horse Wagon Tour. One of our long-standing plans has been to use our beautiful landscape for tourism. Tourism can provide additional income for people whose only income is from milk, and is now in danger because of the new EU regulations. So our first big step towards tourism was this horse wagon tour. My wife and I organized here in Transylvania. Dr. István Grezsa and Dr. Özséb Fazakas organized in Hungary.
The tour started in Székelykeresztúr on July 7th, with 43 people. From there, we traveled to Csehétfalva, Atyha, Siklód, Bözöd, and Kissolymos and finished back in Székelykeresztúr on July 14th. Our aim was to keep away from the main roads and discover the hidden villages lying in the very typical and beautiful Transylvanian landscape.
And, of course we were traveling on the footsteps of Balázs Orbán. I felt very honored to be chosen to be the one who organized the tour here. Another important thing was that the guests brought the donation for fixing the organ. The donation was given by Dr. Alfred Traub and the local government of Hódmezővásárhely. Our unique and beautiful organ was made in 1841 by Márton Swab who represented the transition from the Saxon organ-building to the Hungarian one. So our friends gave this donation for fixing our organ and we want to thank them here, too, for doing this.
---In 2008 - An outstanding event was that we bought the village’s old cultural house for the church. The building is now in ruins and the local council did not have the money to fix it. So they sold it and the church bought it. We have decided to restore it and if we manage to get money, we would like to turn it into a community house and facilities where guest can stay.
In this year we joined in a village development program created by the Unitarian Church, Civitas and Project Harvest Hope. The aim of this development program is to help the hidden and disadvantaged villages to develop and rebuild their communities.
We organized the 2nd Orbán Balázs Horse Wagon Tour. The path we followed was: Csehétfalva, Etéd, Firtosmartonos, Tordátfalva, Tarcsafalva, Csehetfalva, then Firtosváralja, Fenyőkút and Parajd. Our friends brought a beautiful national flag for the church; Dr. Alfred Traub made a donation for the old cultural house program and Rev. Norbert Racz donated the money that he made by selling photos of the tour to the church. We spent wonderful, spirit-rising days together.
As we had been invited to Hungary by our friends we went to see them this summer. First we went to Hódmezővásárhely and spent days in the town sightseeing and learning about it. We met with our friends from the wagon tour in Dr. Ferenc Grezsa’s garden. They welcomed us with the famous Hungarian ‘gulyás’. We enjoyed conversations, looking at photos and watching the “Magyar baka” cartoon made by Norbert Racz. Then, we were welcomed with great love in Szeged and Gyula, where we had a chance to explore these towns. It was a real pleasure to visit our friends in their homes.
An important event for our community was that I was elected the dean of the Székelykeresztúr Unitarian District on July 4th. So the dean’s office moved to Csehétfalva. This is a very important development and the congregation is pleased.
On 23 August we had the dedication of our renewed organ and donated flag. We had many gests from the country and Hungary. We had a very nice service and a nice garden party.
In our work and communal programs our main supporter is our partner church in Kelowna, BC. With their donations and our physical work we managed to make a lot of things here, to do so many good things. We are so thankful for them.
And we are thankful to the council of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania for giving significant material help in the repairing works of the church building and the parish house.
We are also very thankful for the companionship and financial support that our friends from Hódmezővásárhely have shared with us over the years.
In the past nine years we have recognized the need to make many physical renovations. But it has been important to do these only when they serve the development of our spiritual lives. So next to building and renovating we have tried to live and create a community life suitable for our congregation.
This is why we have the so-called ‘worship week’ every spring, as well as the celebration of holidays and big events, balls and parties. In 2000 with young couples we made a drama show that not only made people want to come home for the party but also during the rehearsals. And so our community gets stronger.
With our guest drama performances in Kissolymos and Tordátfalva we have been able to make new connections and friends. Nowadays only the young people are involved in learning to perform drama shows.
the number of people in the village and our
decreasing we look with hope towards the future. We
together we will find the way forward and that our
God will help us
to remain here.
Rev. Lajos Lõrinczi
Hódmezővásárhely tiszteletbeli polgárai
Orbán Balázs Honismereti Emléktúra