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A History of the Budapest Worship Group

 

Quakers are quick to discover newly arising needs and possibilities.

When the Iron Curtain fell, Pat Stapleton, Barbara Forbes, Franco Perna and other Friends turned up in Budapest, met Joseph and Éva Farkas and opened up a previously unheard of new world of loving support.

Some of us from Joseph Farkas’ congregation got invited to Quaker families/Woodbrooke and had some overwhelming life-changing experiences.

We then convened a meeting of friends of Friends to welcome visiting Quakers  to Budapest.

As a group, we got invited to Brussels and Strasbourg to study Quaker work at the European institutions early in 1993.

Zsuzsa Imrényi married Basil Eastland of Edgbaston Meeting, Birmingham and he advised us to make our meetings regular in the autumn of 1993.

We joined the Wider Quaker Fellowship later in the same year.

We soon felt led to do something together to overcome national hostility in the Carpathian Basin. We decided to contact like-minded people in the neighbouring countries and sent Christmas cards to them.

In the spring of 1995 we held a joint gathering with Friends from Edgbaston Meeting in Bábolna, Hungary.

Intrigued by the Quaker experience, we began a kind of theological search to find out more about Quaker spirituality and to this effect we organised a Regional Meeing in Budapest in 1996. This was to be the first of a series of annual events. The Central European Regional Meeting has become an institution. With financial support from the Europe and Middle East Section of FWCC the following events have taken place so far:

 

1996 Budapest, Hungary Quaker Basics

 

1997 Kosice, Slovakia Building Bridges in Central Europe

 

1998 Brno, Czech Republic Alternatives to Violence – Responses to 1989

 

1999 Piliscsaba, Hungary Cloister and Market-Place – Experiment with Light

 

2000 Pribylina, Slovakia Learning from Joseph Farkas

 

2001 Gárdony, Hungary

 

2002 Brno,  Czech Republic Recent History, Minorities, Testimonies

 

2003 Velence, Hungary Ways to Quakerism

 

In view of  the unforeseeable financial consequences of EU admission in the region no gathering was planned for 2004.

 

 

2005 Taksony, Hungary The Quaker Tradition ; Worship, Healing ; A day’s work for Habitat for Humanity

 

2006 Czesky Sternberg Simplicity

 

 

2007 Poznan, Poland Woodbrooke-on-the-Road Public Outreach

 

2008 Vienna, Austria Joint Gathering with EMES

 

 

 

 

For spring 2009 we have been invited to Vienna again and we will be focusing on the needs of small groups and on how we can nurture our meetings.

 

Ever since 1993 we in Budapest  have been holding meetings for worship once or twice a month and have grown into a loving community through the years. Trying to „answer that of God” in people of differing backgrounds/beliefs we have managed to find common ground within the meeting..

In the late 1990’s we felt led to set up a Border Meeting  with Viennese Friends and this marked the beginning of yet another inspired tradition. Trust and friendship between the two meetings has grown. We now try to combine hospitality and food for thought with both spiritual and bodily refreshment (e.g. thermal bath).

In the early 2000’s Terry Hobday and her Creamore Fellowship of Friends from Wem adopted us to be their twin-group. We support one another on-line. They  regularly forward their  copies of the Quaker monthly to us. We try and visit one another whenever we can.

Currently, we are looking forward to welcoming them to Budapest in October and reciprocating their loving hospitality to four of us two years ago.

A special chapter of our history is linked to Vojvodina, Serbia.

A concern to try and do something about national reconciliation there has led to far-reaching consequences. With the generous support of a Serbian member of our worship group, Vera Várady, we were enabled to go on a study tour of Vojvodina, do some voluntary work for the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation in Novi Sad in the heat of the 2006 summer and organise a small international work-camp of Western and Serbian young people in Kishegyes in the following year. Currently, we are trying to „catalyse” a new Quaker meeting in Novi Sad. Also, all along the way, we enjoyed the loving support of  Bronwyn Harwood, Executive Secretary and the gentle guidance of Quaker Voluntary Action.

Members of our group have been honoured to be servant leaders: Berne Weiss was one of the adult escorts of the 2007 Quaker Youth Pilgrimage. Both Berne and Zsuzsa Eastland were invited to attend the Visiting Friends’ Gathering in Sweden in 2007. Judit Borzsák and Zs. E. have taken part in the Quaker in Europe on-line course and will be co-facilitating the course in the Hungarian language.

Three of us were admitted into formal membership of the Religious Society of Friends in 2002. This number is likely to grow to six in the near future.

We now have two meetings a month and sometimes do things together, e.g. walk in the woods, go to the theatre or to a restaurant together. „Decentralisation” has taken place: each of us has his or her international circle of personal Ffriends.

 

Conclusions:

 

  1. We cannot really understand the Quaker way if we only approach it theoretically - theologically. It is through the regular worshipping experience when we practice love together in the presence of God that we begin to understand or rather „to know experimentally” what the Quaker way is all about.
  2. If you ask Friends who/what they believe in, you miss the point. You should instead ask, „How are Friends seeking the truth” or „How are they trying to live?”

 

Zsuzsa Eastland