Roma Ministry

In Hungary, Roma communities have been an inseparable part of society for centuries. In the life of churches, service among Roma has always primarily meant spreading the Gospel. In the last century, this activity has gradually been complemented with other forms of help to facilitate their integration into society, such as educational and social assistance.

Vision statement of the Roma Ministry of RCH

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) as a sign and agent of God’s Kingdom will be a church of personal and social transformation, a community where irrespectively of origin or race, people can experience the welcoming, reconciling and healing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.



Specific objectives of the Roma Ministry

To fulfill the mission outlined in the Roma Startegy adopted by the Synod in 2013, the RCH, through its national coordination office for Roma mission, offers help to congregations interested in serving among Roma.

Main objectives:

  1. Congregations of the RCH shall be encouraged to proclaim the life-shaping message of the Gospel to socially marginalized groups, including the large Roma community.
  2. Through the ministry of the church, Roma people shall experience God's restoring and healing love in all dimensions of their lives.
  3. The RCH and its congregations shall work towards reconciliation between Roma and the majority population in Hungary.

Read the Action Plan for the Ministy among Roma - short version

To fulfill the mission outlined in the Roma Startegy adopted by the Synod in 2013, the RCH, through its national coordination office for Roma mission, offers help to congregations interested in serving among Roma.

Main objectives:

  1. Congregations of the RCH shall be encouraged to proclaim the life-shaping message of the Gospel to socially marginalized groups, including the large Roma community.
  2. Through the ministry of the church, Roma people shall experience God's restoring and healing love in all dimensions of their lives.
  3. The RCH and its congregations shall work towards reconciliation between Roma and the majority population in Hungary.

Roma mission in Congregations

In everything it does, the RCH’s Roma mission tries to promote reconciliation, health and fullness of life within Roma communities. Community work, Bible Studies and Evangelization weeks are all part of the ministry for adults which aim to improve the Roma people’s quality of life.

Besides RE classes, many churches organize afternoon clubs, kids clubs or invite Roma children for summer camps where in a loving atmosphere they can experience the power of community, acceptance and the love of God.

After-school programs offer regular, individualized help to develop children’s skills and promote their integration within the community.

Baby and Mom groups give mothers an opportunity to play together with their kids, prepare for kindergarten and to share issues and questions of concern – all in the company of each other and specialists who are on hand to help.

National Coordination of the Roma ministry

  • How does RCH support congregations’ ministry amongst Roma?
  • Extensive information on the Roma mission website
  • Training events for Roma mission workers
  • Pastors’ continuing education in the field of Roma mission
  • National Roma Mission Gatherings at spring and autumn
  • Donations and opportunities to join the public work program with the help of the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid
  • Cooperation with HEKS (Swiss Interchurch Aid) in support of the social intergation of Roma
  • Cooperation with the prison ministry
  • Ecumenical Diaconal Year Network
  • Romology and Roma mission courses in higher education and universities, appointing a secretary of Roma affairs at universities
  • Wáli István Reformed Roma Collegium - for Roma university students
  • Specialized Reformed schools
  • Preparing Reformed schools for integrated education and receiving Roma students
  • Representation on national Reformed events such as Starpoint Youth Festival, Unity Day
  • Ecumenical and international cooperation
  • Collecting Good examples and Best practices
  • Programs promoting reconciliation; shaping attitudes of the majority and minority society, decreasing interethnic tensions

Future plans:

  • Development of background materials and education programs
  • Offering Roma mission study day to presbyteries and congregations
  • Roma mission hymn book
  • Mentor and Scholarship programs
  • Sensitizing programs
  • Promote job creation
  • Programs promoting the healing of personality and personal relations.


General considerations

The attitude of our churches towards Roma people is the same as towards any other group: they need to hear the message of the Gospel and experience the love of God in order to change and discover new meaning in their lives and find their self-identity through a relationship with God. We strive to bear witness to the love of God not only in the form of words, but also with the help of the various tools of our diaconical services, so that those in need can break out of the prison of indigence and uncertainty that plagues them.

Church services among Roma are special, because they are centered around the community. Instead of the individualist, human rights protection-type approach that has been prevalent for decades, we consider solidarity and mutual respect of various communities as the opportunity for development. That is why we deem it important to enable Hungarian and Roma communities to get to know each other through the recognition and systematisation of work in the field of service among Roma, primarily within our own communities. We are committed to involve those members of Roma communities who would like to co-operate with us in our services. In our view, education is of pivotal importance to facilitate the integration and advancement of Roma. We believe that the strengthening of the Roma community's diverse cultural life needs to be facilitated, and a greater awareness about Roma culture must be achieved.

With centuries of old experience, Hungarian churches can contribute effectively to finding solutions to the problems of the Roma on a European level. This issue can only be resolved if prejudices and rigid stereotypes are left behind. Furthermore, it is only through this approach that steps can be taken to achieve a European-regulated education and social system that enhances social integration.

This mission work among the Roma cannot necessarily be separated from the everyday congregational work of the pastors. That is why we know only generally that out of the 1,200 present Hungarian reformed congregations there are 70-80 where there is regular activity connected to Roma Ministry. A significant amount of this is located in Northeast-Hungary, mainly the territory of the Cistibiscan Church District (centre Miskolc).

Best Practices - examples

Map_RCH_RomaMinistry.jpg

Map highlighting congregations and schools which are part of the network of the National Roma Ministry of RCH. Congergation engaged in Ministry among Roma in general; congergations supported by the Swiss Church Aid HEKS; and HEKS supported Schools and congregations participating in the Together For One Another inclusion project.

Church Cooperation with HEKS/EPER

HEKS, the Aid Organization of the Swiss Protestant Churches has been supporting RCH’s Roma Ministry since 2013 in the framework of the strategic Church Cooperation program. Joint projects in awarness raising, training and inclusion programs supporting Roma youth and families is one of the two priorities of the Church Cooperation between HEKS and RCH, beside integration of Refugees. The current project period started in 2021 and ends in 2024. The 4 years period in the framework of the so called Country Program started on the 1st of January 2021 and one of its primary goals is to encourage the congregations of RCH to be more open towards roma communities and to support the ministry among Roma families, children and youth in various ways.

The aim is to strengthen the Church and its congregations in integrating Roma into Church and society by creating empowering structures and inclusion. Congregations provide educational, life skills, cultural and spiritual programs for disadvantaged families, children, and youth. The project's objective is also to sensitize non-Roma and involve them in activities that support Roma people and help the cooperation of the two ethnicities. Additionally, reformed schools are supported in developing an action plan to promote the inclusion of children from educationally disadvantaged families in mainstream classes. The teachers are trained on integrative school concepts and teaching methods. To share the school’s experiences in inclusive education, teachers of participating schools take a mentoring role to support new participating schools on their way towards inclusive education.

Read more here.

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You Welcomed us into your Kingdom is a booklet with interviews highlighting the work of Roma youth, mission workers, pastors, and artists within the RCH.