Reformed Church in Hungary

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The Reformed Church in Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarországi Református Egyház, MRE) is the largest Protestant church in Hungary, with parishes among the Hungarian diaspora abroad. Today, it is made up of 1,249 congregations in 27 presbyteries and four church districts and has a membership of over 1.6 million, making it second only to the Catholic Church in terms of size. As a Continental Reformed church, its doctrines and practices reflect a Calvinist theology, for which the Hungarian term is református (pronounced [ˈrɛformaːtuʃ]).

Reformed Church in Hungary
Reformed Church in Hungary logo.png
Logo of the Reformed Church in Hungary.
AssociationsHungarian Reformed Church,
World Council of Churches,
World Communion of Reformed Churches,
Conference of European Churches,
Community of Protestant Churches in Europe,
Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary, Hungarian Reformed Church
RegionHungary, Hungarian diaspora
SeparationsReformed Presbyterian Church of Central and Eastern Europe (1998)
Official website
Hungarian Reformed Church building in Manhattan, New York.


The Reformation spread to Hungary during the 16th century. In Geneva, Switzerland, John Calvin formulated the doctrines of the Reformed Church, and his followers spread the Reformed (Calvinist) gospel across Europe.

As a result of the Ottoman invasion of Hungary, Hungary was divided into three parts. The northwest came under Habsburg rule; the eastern part of the kingdom and Transylvania (vassal state) came under the Ottoman Empire. While the Ottomans urged conversion to Islam among conquered "Infidels", it was the Reformation which instead spread throughout Turkish-occupied Hungarian territories. Only in the Habsburg-ruled western Hungary was this process prevented by the counter-Reformation policy encouraged by the Monarchy.

A Calvinist Constitutional Synod was held in 1567 in Debrecen, the main hub of Hungarian Calvinism, where the Second Helvetic Confession was adopted as the official confession of Hungarian Calvinists.

In 1683-1699, Hungary was gradually liberated from the Turks by a Christian alliance led by the Habsburgs. After this, the Habsburg Emperors started to strongly introduce the Counter-Reformation into the liberated territories. Consequently, for most of the 18th century, Hungarian Protestants were second-class citizens. Imperial edicts such as the Resolutio Carolina of 1731, settled the status of Protestant churches.

Only the end of the 18th century brought some relief to the Hungarian Reformed Church. Finally, the 1867 establishment of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy gave free way for the legal emancipation of Hungarian Protestants. In 1881, for the first time in an almost 400-year-long history, the four Hungarian Reformed Church Districts together with the Transylvanian Reformed Church held a unified Synod in the city of Debrecen. The modern Hungarian Reformed Church was born there at the Debrecen Synod of 1881. The internal hierarchy and the synodal-presbyterian system of the Reformed Church remains nearly unchanged from that time.

After World War I, the Treaty of Trianon in 1920 greatly altered the Hungarian Reformed Church. It made two two-thirds of the Hungarian people and a large number of Reformed Synod's and congregations suddenly within foreign countries. The percentages of Protestantism in Hungary, however, has been stable over the last century (1938-2010), oscillating between 10% and 20% of the population.

Another trial came to the Church with the establishment of the People's Republic of Hungary after World War II. After the confiscation of church lands, schools and institutions, on October 7, 1948, the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Mátyás Rákosi, forced the Reformed Church to sign an agreement that brought all the denomination's work and personnel under the control of the secret police, the ÁVH and the MIA III, and of the ruling Communist Party of Hungary. The forty years of Communist rule brought both state atheism and religious persecution to members of all Christian denominations, and only the end of communism in Hungary brought about relief. Thereafter, a "free church in free state" model has been adopted.[2]


The Reformed Church in Hungary accepts the Bible as the word of God. Beyond the early creeds (the Athanasian Creed, Apostles' Creed, and Nicene Creed), it accepts the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Second Helvetic Confession.[3][4]


In order to organize church life on regional and national levels, the RCH has established higher structural bodies for church legislation and operation: 27 presbyteries, four districts, and the General Synod. Presbyteries usually contain approximately 30-40 congregations and have mainly administrative roles. Each Presbytery belongs in one of the four church districts: Cistibiscan, Transtibiscan, Danubian, or Transdanubian. The ultimate source of church legislation and administration of the Reformed Church in Hungary is the General Synod.

The RCH (as a member of the worldwide Reformed Church family) is constructed in a representative way from below, from the congregational level. Members of governing bodies on all levels of the church are elected by a group of church members, and in all levels above the congregational pastors and lay people are represented equally.

The church levels function independently providing various kinds of service and using their own budget. A common church constitution, together with a set of specific rules and regulations, makes it possible for different units of the church to create their own operational design. However, for certain transactions they depend on higher church bodies. These general rules allow for freedom and flexibility in the congregations' operation, but they also protect the integrity of the church.[5]

Hungarian Reformed ChurchEdit

The Hungarian Reformed Church (HRC) was established by the Constituting Synod on 22 May 2009 in Debrecen. It is a community of Reformed churches in the Carpathian Basin that incorporates Hungarian Reformed congregations both within and outside the borders of Hungary because of their separation from each other as a consequence of World War I. The constitution of the church declares that the HRC is a community of joined churches with a common synod known as the General Convent, which can pass legislation and make formal statements concerning issues decided upon by the participating churches. However, the joined churches are autonomous and independently form their own organizational systems.

The constitution of the Hungarian Reformed Church was ratified by the following churches:

International ecumenical relationsEdit

The RCH is a member of several ecumenical organisations and partner organisations, including:


  1. ^ "World Council of Churches - Reformed Church in Hungary". Archived from the original on 2011-05-21. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
  2. ^ " - History of the RCH".
  3. ^ " - Our Call".
  4. ^ Fasse, Christoph. "Address data base of Reformed churches and institutions".
  5. ^ " - Facts and Statistics".
  6. ^ " - Hungarian Reformed Community".
  7. ^ " - Partnership and Co-operation".

External linksEdit