UUSIC started its partner church relationship with the Unitarian church in Janosfalva, Romania, as part of
the celebration for our society's 150th anniversary
in 1993. It was Rev. Don Fielding, a ministerial intern at UUSIC under Rev. Fritz Hudson, who suggested UUSIC
develop this relationship. Fielding was finishing course requirements
for his M. Div. degree at Meadville Theological Seminary. One of his
professors was the Rev. Georgy Andrassi, who had been allowed to come to the United States
following the assassination of Romanian dictator Nicolai
to the UUA Partner Church Council for a partner church relationship,
and received one with Parochia Unitariana in Janosfalva, a village of
200 in Transylvania. At the
time, few Unitarian ministers in Janosfalva spoke English. UUSIC was
that the minister at Janosfalva, Rev. Anniko Szantho Harrington, had
studied in the United States. Rev. Szantho
Harrington was married
to Rev. Donald Harrington, minister emeritus of
the Community Church of New York City.
At that time, in the early 1990s, the Romanian government had deeded
the land to the farmers, but had kept the farm equipment, which it was
willing to lease at exorbitant prices. To earn money to purchase
equipment, the women of Janosfalva were making and selling dolls wearing
traditional Transylvanian costumes.
As their new Partner Church,
UUSIC raised money to buy a tractor and combine. Over the years, the village economy has improved, and residents, who
were once all engaged in farming, have branched out into construction,
electronics, and trucking.
In 1999, Rev.
Szantho Harrington had to leave her position for medical reasons, and Rev. Sandor Simo
succeeded her. Sandor
and his wife,
Melinda, have visited our congregation here in Iowa City. They have two
daughters, Csenge and Sara.
Our primary means of fundraising for
Partner Church activities has been our "Festival of the First Bread,"
held each winter, and followed the next day by a special solicitation
during Sunday services.
Since becoming a Partner Church with
Janosfalva, UUSIC has raised funds to:
the end of World War I, Romania absorbed eastern Hungary, including
Transylvania. Efforts to turn these erstwhile Hungarians into Romanians
were often repressive, and this was even more true for Unitarians, a
religious minority. American Unitarians began a "Sister Church" program
during these difficult times to provide support to struggling Unitarian
congregations in Transylvania. It was a great success. As Rev. C. Leon
...no one was prepared for the flood
of resources, both financial and personal,
which were to follow.
Involvement with caring was expected, yes, but dollars, no. It was like
spontaneous combustion. an explosion of activity. There were a
remarkable number of visits to Transylvania which quickly resulted in
deepened involvement and personal commitment.
After WW II, Romania and Hungary were made part of the communist USSR,
and communication with American Unitarians was difficult. Rev. Anniko
Szantho Harrington, who would one day be the minister at our Partner
Church in Janosfalva, worked to stay in contact, and by the
1960s American Unitarians
were once again visiting
the State Historical Society of Iowa.
From Within These Walls
is a project of the UUSIC
Building Centennial Team: Jeanette Carter, Susan Eberly,
Marilyn Jennewein, David Martin, Betty McKray, Charity
Rowley, Faye Strayer, and Mark Yuskis, with the help of many
others in our UUSIC community.