My greetings to the pastor, churchwarden, elders and honourable congregants from the Protestant congregation of Szászfenes. My first words are of thanks: thank you for allowing me to be here today, and be part of such a special occasion.
In Europe today it is unusual to consecrate a new Christian church – and for Europe that is quite a problem. You have nevertheless put your mind to building a new Protestant church, and this means several things: it shows that you have confidence in the future; it also shows that you trust that this future will be a Christian future; and finally, it shows that you also trust that here in Szászfenes this future will be a Hungarian future. This was what first came to mind when I saw a photograph of your modern church, with its four turrets. And I immediately thought of the architect Károly Kós, who on one dark day when it seemed that our Hungarian world was about to collapse, left a career in education, boarded the last steam train and came home to Kalotaszeg to plant trees, found a publishing house, and write novels in an attempt to preserve what had begun to sink. He came home because he saw these buildings, which had found their way here from the Western Gothic to take root deep in the soil of the Kalotaszeg region, with porticos under their helms and spires piercing the sky, and was well aware what they were: watchtowers. Our churches, Ladies and Gentlemen, are in fact watchtowers, which from Sunday to Sunday have for centuries assembled and guarded the Protestant Hungarians of the Kalotaszeg region. They are symbols of the reform movement that began five hundred years ago, and which also arrived from the West, took root in Hungary, and became a force preserving the nation for all Hungarians.
There are so many of us here today because the original congregation of Szászfenes and the Hungarian Protestants who have moved from Kolozsvár have together created a new and vigorous community. After four years in the wilderness this community is today finally able to occupy its new church, which would never have been built if, in the last census, you had not declared yourselves Protestant Hungarians. It would never have been built had your pastors not searched out and gathered the Protestant families who had moved here, and forged them into a strong community. And it would never have been built without those very many people, congregations and organisations who, with their donations, have contributed brick-by-brick to the construction of this church. Where there is work, and where there is will – the will to act and solidarity – assistance will not be withheld. We were happy to make our contribution to your efforts in professing your faith and creating a community. We are proud that the Hungarian government had the opportunity to fund the completion of this church, because now Hungary is strong enough in both body and spirit to also take responsibility for Transylvanian Hungarians.
We Hungarians will only have a future if we can protect our communities, our buildings and our cultural heritage, and show solidarity; we will have a future if we increase the number of kindergartens and schools, and if we make Hungarian language education available to all Hungarian children. We will have a future if we create the conditions for you to be able to prosper in the land of your birth: to live here, to work here, to start a family here, and to be part of your church congregation here. And, finally, we will only have a common future if we continue to make our most important decisions together. In part this church has also been realised thanks to the fact that in 2014 we had the opportunity to collectively decide on a national policy transcending borders and assuming responsibility for all Hungarian communities. Please do not forget that next year the time will come again, and we will be able to further reinforce this alliance.
Out of apathy or naivety, the western half of Europe – which not too long ago was strong and Christian – is doing away with its religious symbols; it is turning its back on its own culture, without even realising that, by doing so, it is throwing away its own future. Accordingly, today the consecration of this church is a sign of something more: it is like an ocean in a drop of water. The Hungarians are demonstrating their will to survive.
My wish for the congregation of Szászfenes is that you fill this church with faith, prayer and the sounds of happy children. My wish is for God to give you strength and good health, and for God to provide every member of the Szászfenes congregation with an understating partner, a happy family, many children and good neighbours, and to give you work that is both useful, meaningful and fruitful.
God bless you.