The Partner Church program
Through this program a Unitarian church in Canada or the U.S. joins with a church in another part of the world so that each may learn from and be enriched by the other. Churches in North America are partnered with churches in a number of countries including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Transylvania, the Philippines, India, Hong Kong, Burundi, Nigeria, and Uganda. Great Britain also has a partner church program that is run independently from the North American one.
As of March 2011, 187 congregations in the United States have partners; 11 in Canada have partners, and of these, six are in BC.
The symbols at the top of this column are the logos of the Unitarian movement in Romania and Hungary, and the Canadian Unitarian Council.
How Partnerships Began
• A sister church program was set up after World War I to support Unitarian churches in Transylvania, recently transferred from Hungary to Romania. These partnerships expired with the outbreak of World War II.
• After the overthrow of the Ceausescu dictatorship in 1989, the sister church program was revived, and in 1993 the Partner Church council was formed to be responsible for North American partner churches.
• To learn about Unitarian beliefs and traditions that are different from our own and thus expand our knowledge and appreciation of Unitarianism through personal contact and exchange of ideas.
• To learn from our shared history – Transylvania has a rich history of Unitarianism dating from the 1500’s.
• To provide our partner with financial, spiritual and moral support.
• To contribute to the manifestation of our sixth Unitarian principle “The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all”.
The city of our Partner Church is:
Brasov in Romanian, Brassó in Hungarian, and Kronstadt in German. Romanian is the official language of Romania, but a lot of Hungarian is spoken, especially in Transylvania. Since almost all our partner church’s congregation is ethnic Hungarian, we generally use the Hungarian name.
Our Partner: The Second Unitarian Congregation of Brassó
• Phillip Hewett, now Minister Emeritus at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, first visited Brassó, Romania in 1972.
• The resulting warm connection between ministers led to the Vancouver church’s 1990 request to be partnered with what is now the Second Unitarian Congregation of Brassó.
• The Brassó church, built in 1936, is unlike most Unitarian churches in Transylvania as it is located in a city of 300,000 rather than in a village. Its congregation of about 1300 are mostly ethnic Hungarians, a Romanian minority that experienced considerable persecution after the transfer of Transylvania to Romania in 1919.
What does the Unitarian Church of Vancouver’s Partner Church Committee do?
• We research and present to the UCV congregation an annual worship service about our partner church and Unitarian life in Romania or a related topic.
• We raise funds for the Brassó congregation through the annual partner church weekend and other activities such as lunches.
• We contribute to problem-solving, such as helping to construct a new wing to their church and helping several Romanian churches that were devastated by floods in 2006.
• We support ministerial exchanges between Brassó and Vancouver. Phillip Hewett has been to Brassó nine times, Steven Epperson once and, overcoming considerable challenges, their ministers have visited Vancouver twice.
• We encourage travel to Brassó by UCV members. Since 1990, about twelve UCV members have visited – some of them several times.
• In the fall of 2011 five members of UCV and two from Beacon traveled to Romania to visit our Partner churches in Brasso and Kobatfava in Transylvania. We stayed in homes, attended worship services and saw both modern and old methods of farming. Following these visits we traveled on the PCC bus with their two guides visiting Unitarians churches and sites finally traveling to north-eastern Romania to see the magnificent Orthodox painted monasteries of Bucovina. A fascinating and rewarding visit to a unique area full of Unitarian history.
• Overall, we promote fellowship between our two congregations. Despite language difficulties, we maintain an active dialogue with our partner church.