On Tuesday, October 6, 2020, Bishop Patrick Streiff was honored for his long-standing commitment to the people of Hungary with the country's highest State Order also awarded to foreign citizens: the Hungarian Order of Merit.
The extraordinary and high award for Bishop Patrick Streiff also belongs to the category of "Actually it should have been..." stories. The original plan was to hold the award ceremony in spring 2020 as part of a major official ceremony in Hungary. However, since the imposed travel restrictions had made a trip to Hungary impossible, and since it seemed unlikely that Bishop Streiff would be able to travel to Hungary in the remaining months of this year, another solution had to be found.
Therefore, it was Istvan Nagy, the Hungarian ambassador to Switzerland, who, on October 6, 2020, during a small ceremony in Berne, on behalf of the Hungarian President Janos Ader, presented the Hungarian Order of Merit and presented Bishop Streiff with a certificate and the "Knight's Cross". As a reason for the honor, he mentioned in particular the appointment and promotion of a new generation of leaders in the UMC in Hungary, the efforts with regard to theological education in Europe as well as the service for the poor - and especially for the members of the Roma minority.
In addition to numerous men and women from the fields of art, science, education and religion, the former Methodist Superintendents Istvan Csernak and Friedrich Hecker had in the past also received the annually awarded Hungarian Order of Merit, the second highest State Order of Hungary.
In his acceptance speech, Bishop Patrick Streiff emphasized that he would accept this award with humility, because he would understand it as recognition of the valuable service that the Methodists in Hungary would do every day. In this context, it would be important to understand that this ministry is not done within the framework of a national church, but is integrated into a cross-border community of solidarity.
Bishop Streiff also stressed the need to keep a watchful eye on religious freedom and the separation of church and state. This separation would give a special and complementary role to each of the two sizes: neither can the church take over the role of the state, nor can the state do what the church is supposed to do. In his view, the state would have a special role in building a just society for all citizens; the church, in turn, would have a special role in the area of morality (in the broadest sense of "doing good"), because this cannot be prescribed by law. In this context, Bishop Streiff referred to the "General Rules" of Methodism rooted in the Gospel (do no evil; do good by showing mercy; use the God-given means of grace) - rules that would also shape the ministry of the UMC in Hungary. He gratefully noted that he would appreciate how the Republic of Hungary recognizes particularly this positive contribution of the Christian Churches to peace, justice, and the integrity of creation.
He concluded his remarks by emphasizing the intention to continue to work together with the Methodists in Hungary to serve the people of Hungary of whatever background they may be, to witness to the Gospel of Christ, to do good in society, and to build up a network of solidarity beyond the borders of one nation.
Assistant to Bishop Patrick Streiff