Hungarian Reformed Churches
One of the greatest Reformed communities in Europe are the Reformed Churches in the eight countries of the Carpathian Basin. There are more than 1.5 million members almost in 3000 congregations. In spite of their fragmentation the common confessions - the Heidelberg Catechism and the Second Helvetic Confession beside the Apostolic Confession - the Hungarian language and the common history provide important cohesion.
The largest Reformed communities live in Hungary, in the western and middle part of Romania, in the Southern counties of Slovakia, in the Sub-Carpathian area of Ukraine and in the Northern part of Serbia and Croatia. They are organized in independent churches by countries. There is one Reformed congregation in Austria and in Slovenia. As a result of emigration there are Hungarian Reformed communities living in all over the World, of which the largest communities live in Western Europe and in North America.
Organizational structure, institutions
The nearly 3000 congregations join together on a territorial basis in presbyteries, which create the districts led by the bishop and the lay curator. The highest legislative body of the Reformed Church is the Synod. The Presidium of the Synod is representing the church to third parties.
The Hungarian Reformed Churches operate educational and social institutions, hospitals, conference centres and publishing houses.
Institutionally the Reformed Church exists from 1567, when the first waves of the Reformation have reached the Carpathian Basin. The history of the Reformed Church is intervened with the history of Hungary, thus it has played an important role in the development of the Hungarian culture.
Due to the Trianon peace treaty closing the I. World War Hungary lost two thirds of its territories, while the Reformed Church lost half of its membership. From that point on Reformed churches in successor countries developed in an isolated manner in terms of liturgy and church rule.
During the Communist regime (1948-1989) the churches were openly persecuted, their institutions were confiscated, later they could operate only within the isolation of the Soviet type state-party communist oppression.
Since the changes of 1989 many institutions are again in church ownership, many new schools and social institutions have restarted their operation. Congregational life is developing and religious life could step out of the churches. The task of the near future is to carry on our mission in a new, changed context, which is now characterized by the powerful secularisation and moral crisis of the consumer society after the official materialism of Communism.
The Hungarian Reformed churches of the Carpathian Basin have strong relations with each other (regular meetings of church leaders, lively congregational partnerships) and with the Hungarian Reformed communities of Western Europe and that of North America.
They are members of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the European Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. They keep contacts with many protestant churches in Europe and in the Americas and some of them with churches in Asia.