Tagged: “Partner Church”

Deva Guest House


The Project

Sitting on the hill high above Deva, the Citadel reminds us of the importance David Ferenc, (Francis David), the founder of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania. David Ferenc died here because of his belief in religious freedom and the need for our faith to keep on progressing. Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists around the world continue to enjoy the rich legacy of David Ferenc’s courageous faith. Thousands of Unitarians/UUs from around the world visit Deva each year to honor and be inspired by his life and his ultimate sacrifice for our faith. The Unitarian Church of Deva has embarked on an ambitious plan to create the David Ferenc Center of Pilgrimage and Diaspora to celebrate our Unitarian history and the lasting impact of David Ferenc on our faith. And finally, a major piece of that dream is a guesthouse that can house many of the Unitarian/UU pilgrims who flock to Deva. Other guesthouse and hotel options in Deva are not very good (a perennial complaint of pilgrims who travel through the UUPCC). This guesthouse in the shadow of the citadel will be greatly used and appreciated by many.

History of The David Ferenc Center of Pilgrimage and Diaspora

  • The church building was purchased in 2003 with funds raised by Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, First Presbyterian Church of Neenah and the Transylvanian Unitarian Church.
  • Building improvements through the years include: garden, finished meeting room, sanctuary, guest house with WiFi, air conditioning, library, open kitchen with non-stop coffee, and continental breakfasts
  • The guest house will accommodate 14 people in 6 different rooms with adjoining bathrooms and breath-taking views of the Citadel

Where will the money go? The funds raised through Faithify will help buy dressers, beds, bedding and other amenities for the Deva Guest House. Through this gift:

  • The David FerencCenter of Pilgrimage and Diaspora will receive much needed income by welcoming pilgrims to the Deva Guest House.
  • Visiting youth and pastors will have a new gathering and training space.
  • Pilgrims from around the world will have a warm and welcoming place to stay in Deva.
  • The David Ferenc Center of Pilgrimage and Diaspora will open its doors to pilgrims in the summer of 2019
  • Please give to this campaign!

How much money do we need? The people of The Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship have been very generous:

  • Money raised so far: $2,500
  • We need to raise an additional $5,500 to make this dream a reality.
  • We are appealing to any past and/or future pilgrims who will be visiting Deva and need a wonderful place to stay.

The Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship has been in partnership with the Unitarian Church of Deva since 2001. During this time, we have exchanged visits with Deva, both hosting people from Transylvania in Appleton and also traveling to Deva to visit our partners and friends about eight different times. Our partnership is strong. It is built on love, generosity, respect and the willingness to build deeper relationships across differences of culture, language and distance. We celebrate this opportunity to make the Deva Guest House a reality.


Our minister, Roger Bertschausen, came to our FVUUF Social Action Committee in 1999 and said, “How would we like to become a Partner Church with a Unitarian Church in Transylvania?”We had no idea what he was asking, but we said, “Yes!”  (Who says UUs don’t have faith?!!)We became partners with the Unitarian Church in Deva in 2000.We did not know that 120 something UU churches in North America were in these kinds of partnerships.

I, personally, did not know that the spark of my UU faith had started in Transylvania a long time ago. At that time, I did not know of the difficulty and bravery of that act. And, I did not know that entering into a partnership of this kind would transform me.

Here’s part of my UU story; my wife Lynn and I, raised and married Methodist, did not know a thing about a liberal faith called Unitarian Universalism.  But having three young daughters we were searching for a spiritual community diligently.  In the fall of 1983, Lynn noticed a one line ad in the local newspaper that said, “How would you like to help your children find their own spiritual path?  Come visit our UU Church.”  We did, and became members that January.  Lynn soon became DRE and I was one of the RE teachers.  Finding Unitarian Universalism was one of the best things our family ever did.

Fast forward to our partnership with Deva. I learned that the spark of spiritual tolerance was lit by Francis David over 400 years ago in Transylvania, and that he was martyred for his efforts in the citadel at Deva. I learned that it is a long winding path from Unitarianism in Transylvania to Unitarian Universalism in my world. I learned that making a pilgrimage to Transylvania and climbing the hill in Deva to pay respects to our founder is one of the great adventures we UUs can do in our lifetime!

I cannot express how deeply my life has been enriched by our friends in Deva…

They have shown us unconditional love and generosity, and we now take Communion every Christmas Eve in their honor! I am proud to say that this Faithify campaign will complete their efforts to provide a guesthouse in their church for visiting pilgrims from all over!!

It is a pilgrimage that can transform your life…

Bill Carlson, member Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

First, I think it is important to recognize that Deva is a very important pilgrimage site for all Unitarians. The founder of Unitarianism, David Ferenc, who 450 years ago crafted the radical proclamation for religious tolerance known as The Edict of Torda, perished in a cell on top of the citadel that rises above the city. The Deva church lies just below the citadel and is a very convenient location for travelers on pilgrimage, as well as Unitarian youth engaged in faith related gatherings.

 Current options for convenient accommodations include either a hotel about five blocks away, or a hostel type guest house that at times has been known to lack basics such as hot water, heat, toilet paper, etc.  When completed this guest house will accommodate visitors on pilgrimage as well as others gathering for faith related reasons.

 I feel that this project honors our partnership in one of the most meaningful ways possible. It will allow those traveling to Deva to have very nice accommodations with either private or shared baths, WiFi, continental breakfast, and a convenient location for a pilgrimage to the Citadel. There is also a nicely sized gathering room on the ground floor that is already complete and used by the Deva congregation. This will be a great way to support not only the Unitarian Church in Deva, but will also insure that all pilgrims will have a comfortable place to stay..

Jan McHugh, member Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Wow! I had the most amazing pilgrimage to Deva, Transylvania in November 2018. The connection with the people of Deva warmed my heart and strengthened my belief in how love can transform us all. The Unitarian Congregation of Deva is wonderfully generous with their time, energy and love. I celebrate my time in Deva as one of transformation and dedication to deepen my Unitarian Universalist faith.

 And because of this, I truly believe in our quest to help the Unitarian Congregation of Deva make the guest house a reality. It will benefit both pilgrims and the Unitarian Church of Deva in ways we cannot yet imagine by providing wonderful accommodations for people from within Transylvania and from around the world. Our Unitarian faith calls us to offer radical hospitality to all. I believe the Deva guest house will do this and more.

 Tina Main, member Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I loved my many (5) trips to Deva. Why? I always loved the adventure of travel however, the added bonus of meeting with friends is exquisite. Over the years I learned about their culture and history. As well as bonding through shared meals, stories, and comradery.

Tom Pynenberg, Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

My visit to Deva helped me really appreciate our UU ancestors!

Taizan Alford, Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

In the spring of 2000, I made my first visit to Deva to meet our new Partners. It is no exaggeration to say that the experiences I had on that visit profoundly changed the direction of my life as I came to know a deeper, more expansive understanding of my chosen faith family and the people who bring it to life. The friendships I have made, the challenges I have faced and the lessons I have learned have shaped the person I am and am becoming. This one wild and precious life has become so much richer with each visit to Deva. I hope that all of you will be able to climb Citadel Hill one day and reflect upon your faith, then stay in the Deva Guest House to experience the love and warm hospitality you will find there.

Lee Boeke Burke, First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor

Transylvania Village Life Festival

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, Virginia, (Oakton, VA) and the Szentgerice Unitarian Church in Transylvania have been partners since 1992.  Over the years, more than 150 youth and adults from Fairfax have visited Szentgerice.  Our partnership has matured from a social justice project to a true sharing of faith and friendship.

In October 2018, Fairfax will get a chance to reciprocate hospitality when 14 youth and adults from the Szentgerice congregation travel to Virginia, the largest group ever to visit.  They are coming to commemorate our quarter century of relationship and to give back — (1) by helping to build a peace garden on the grounds of the Fairfax church, and (2) by demonstrating/teaching Hungarian dancing, crafts, cooking and baking at a Transylvanian Village Life Festival.  Our guests will be staying and sightseeing with Fairfax members.  This will be a rich opportunity to explore the common and different threads of our faith and cultures, to find new growth just outside of our comfort zone, and to make new friends through fun and shared experiences.

The $10,000 cost for the trip is being shared by both congregations. Fairfax is seeking your help in raising at least $2,000 toward our share of the expenses for airfares, insurance, meals and activities during the visit.  Please help us strengthen the bonds between the partners and make this a memorable trip for both congregations.

Raise Up Unitarian Culture, Build Places to Gather

To survive as a community, people create spaces to come together. Places to share traditions and cultural values. Music. Dance. Language. Food. Play. Story. It’s the same in Transylvania, Romania, as it is around the world.

First U of Yarmouth, Maine, and Unitarian Kaláka ask for your help to create and expand gathering spaces in three Unitarian communities in Transylvania. Varosfalva, in the video above, is one of the three communities raising funds through our Faithify campaign.

In Transylvania, “kaláka” is the practice of working together – like barn raising in the old days – to accomplish shared goals. Each of these community-building projects will be achieved locally by village volunteers, matched with your financial support.

How will the funds be used?

1 To create a safe play space for children in Városfalva

Since the village school was closed, there are no play spaces for children in the Unitarian community of Városfalva. This “kalaka” project, initiated by parents, creates a vital playground, a safe and healthy environment essential to a child’s development – an oasis of freedom.

The new playground will serve the village’s 30 children, as well as parents, village elders, and young people of all ages.  All will benefit from this communal gathering space, and all are eager to volunteer in some way to make it happen.

“Remember your childhood…”

“We plan to build the playground with volunteers and we want to buy all the equipment from local companies to support the neighboring economy… Remember your childhood and the joy you had on playgrounds. Every child deserves such an oasis of freedom.”  – A Városfalva volunteer

2 To raise the walls on a new church hall wing in Torockoszentgyorgy

Urgently in need of expansion, the church hall is the center of Torockoszentgyorgy life, hosting the growing number of community groups who gather there: youth groups, the women’s association, children’s workshops and more.

Volunteers will construct a new wing with running water for a kitchen and bathroom, meeting rooms, and space for communal celebrations. With this project, the village is determined to preserve its traditional way of life.

“We have started to lose our traditions…”

“In the last 70 years, the world has evolved and we have started to lose our traditions. Our goal is to bring back those traditions with kaláka projects like this. We began building a new wing for our Community Hall two years ago. We hope that this year we can raise the walls, brick by brick.”  – A Szentgyorgy community member

3 To restore the community hall in Brassó

In Brassó, the Hall of Brotherhood is where villagers in surrounding communities gather to celebrate and solidify their Unitarian Hungarian roots. Groups come together – 100 to 200 each week – to dance, sing, learn English, play music, make handicrafts, and share precious time with each other.

After 35 years of use, the hall is in desperate need of renovation. The floor is slippery and uneven; walls need re-plastering; and tables and chairs have deteriorated. Restoring this hall will transform this community.

“Where traditions and cultural values are transmitted…”

“This hall is where traditions and cultural values are transmitted. The room is used continuously and now needs extensive renovation to remain safe and attractive. Through this communal effort, the Brotherhood Hall can once again serve our community.” Brassó community leader

Please help! These kaláka projects provide places to gather, play, teach, learn, celebrate, and work together – helping to preserve Unitarian village life in Transylvania. 

Thank you!