...and they came, old and young

On Sunday, April 17, 2011, the Roma congregation of Alsószolca/Hungary celebrated the laying of the foundation stone of its new church building and community center.

At the entrance of the village the structural work of the new building is clearly visible. There are some police to lead the visitors to the parking site and to take care of the security of the many guests. But actually there is nothing we would have to be afraid of. In front of the structural work there is a small stage with a pavilion roof. The sound system and the microphones are tested. In order to have a better view from a heightened place, the Hungarian TV station has set up its cameras on the stack of building materials for the building. How glad everybody is that the sky is blue and the sun is shining.

And so they come from the different parts of the village, together with Methodists from other places – altogether approximately 300 children and adults with different skin colors. It is quite obvious that many of them live under very poor conditions, but today their faces are bright. It is a hopeful and long-expected day in the life of the Roma-congregation of Alsószolca. More than 50 years ago, Methodists have started a missionary work here, which has developed to a large United Methodist congregation in the meantime. In order to have their worship services they gather in a house, which has been much too small for a long time already. Now the local government has granted a piece of land to the UMC so that the Church can establish a church and a community center there. The mayor of Alsószolca is participating in the celebration, and the Hungarian Prime Minister has written a letter to the congregation.

Now, on Palm Sunday, right after the Annual Conference meeting, we celebrate the laying of the foundation stone of the church. The works have progressed to the second floor already. Most of the money, which has been spent so far, has come from the fundraising campaign «children help children» of the UMC in Germany. More money will be needed. But today it’s time for gratefulness and joy. The music group of the Gypsies (that’s the way they call themselves) contributes to the celebration, and the whole congregation sings Christian hymns. The music group would love to visit many local churches abroad and give concerts in order to share in the collection of the funds for the church building. Will there be an interest? By Spring 2012 the local church and the UMC in the whole country would like to celebrate the opening of the newly established church…

Source: Office of Bishop Patrick Streiff
Date: April 26, 2011