For 25 years Foothills Unitarian Church has had a partner church relationship with the small Unitarian congregation in Bethlenszentmiklos, Transylvania, Romania. We have had various levels of contact over the years, and for the past 10 years we have provided funds for scholarships to help the youth of the congregation attend private secondary schools where Hungarian is used as a language of instruction and choices are available for the religious education classes.
For 2016 in August we want to have a group from our congregation tour Transylvania and participate in a work project in Bethlenszentmiklos. This trip is organized by the UU Partner Church Council and will be from August 8 to 18, with an optional extension to Budapest from August 18 to 21, which will include Hungarian National Day on August 20.
The time in Transylvania will concentrate on places that are important for Unitarian history, which dates back to the 16th century —
- Torda – where the first act of religious tolerance was signed in 1568
- Kolozsvár – where the Transylvanian Unitarian Church has its headquarters, high school, and 1st Church which houses the “Rock” of Francis David.
- Marosvasarhely – home to the spectacular Art Nouveau Cultural Palace and the Teleki Library, Transylvania’s oldest public library, which houses one of the world’s great rare book collections.
- Gyulaferhervar – where a 1000 year-old church shelters the remains of the Unitarian King – John Sigismund and his mother Isabella.
- Sighisoara – the medieval walled city which is both a UNESCO World Heritage site and the purported birthplace of Vlad Tepes – aka “Dracula”.
- Biertan – the magnificent Saxon fortress church (a UNESCO World Heritage site) that served as the seat of the Lutheran Bishop of Transylvania for 300 years.
- Meszko – the “Alabaster Village” made famous by the book of the same name.
- Deva – the ruins of the prison where Francis David died
In Bethlenszentmiklos we will help with the restoration of the old Hungarian school building, which the Unitarian congregation plans to use as a community center. The building was “nationalized” in 1947 when the communist government came to power, and it has stood empty, unused and deteriorating until 2015. Now the exterior walls have been stabilized and a new roof installed. But there is a lot of interior restoration still needed, and both front and back yards need help.
The cost of the land package is $1,150 (double occupancy) plus a $150 non-refundable registration fee. Add $125 for single supplement. The package does not include air fare, gratuities, alcoholic beverages, or other personal expenses. The optional Budapest extension is $570 (double occupancy), and a $130 single supplement.
For the detailed itinerary, contact Bob Viscount (970-223-5975) or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or see the Partner Church Committee section of the bulletin board in the social hall.
When you are ready to reserve a spot on the trip, the trip id number is 3287059. It is up on the UUPCC website and ready for registration. Just go to www.uupcc.org and click on Pilgrimages, then select “group pilgrimages” from the drop down menu. Scroll down to where you enter the above id number. That will take you to a page specifically devoted to the Foothills trip. Registration is set to close on April 30th.