Co-opted Staff, Writer, Church of Scotland
Budakeszi United Methodist Church won’t have a problem for animal extras if it ever wanted to put on a Nativity Play or Palm Sunday procession.
A donkey, a handful of sheep and several chickens all live in the large garden surrounding the church.
Churches all over Budapest welcomed CEC Assembly participants on Sunday morning, each to a church of their own denominational family.
Nine participants were welcomed at Budakeszi UMC.
Budakeszi is a small community set in a picturesque forest on the western outskirts of Budapest.
On a glorious summer day the buzzing of insects (and the occasional baa of one of the sheep) were the only sounds to disrupt the peace and tranquillity of the quiet valley. The noise of the city centre (and the stress of the CEC Assembly) seemed a whole world away.
It was a special day at Budakezsi United Methodist Church as the scout group was being sent off to a summer camp in Transylvannia. The group, named in honour of Methodist founder John Wesley, joined the service wearing their official scout uniforms, but, over lunch and before they set off on their long drive they changed into their ‘Keep Calm – I’m a John Wesley Scout’ t-shirts.
Methodism, it is often said, was ‘born in song'; John Wesley’s brother Charles was a prolific hymn-writer.
The singing at Budakezsi was robust and heartfelt.
The rendition of Fanny Crosby’s ‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine’ lifted the rafters with the chorus sung in Hungarian and English: “This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Saviour all the day long.”
The church is a new (and still not-quite-finished) building, but Methodist mission work has taken place on the site since the 1920s.
The property was confiscated during the communist era, and was returned to the church by the state in 1995.
The large site includes a garden for flowers, soft fruit, vegetables as well as a pear orchard and a small football pitch.
The buildings house a care home for older people (who help to look after the garden) and accommodation for around 40 students, who study at different colleges around the city. The church soon hopes to expand its work, by establishing a project to work with disabled children.
Methodism is a minority church in every country in Europe.
There is therefore a great deal of commonality and fellowship amongst Methodists from different places; theology, history, style of worship are all part of the special closeness which Methodists describe as connexionalism. The easy friendship between sister and brother Methodists made the visitors to Budakezsi feel very much at home.
The warmth of the welcome was a real highlight for these Methodists of their time in Hungary.