North American Hungarian Reformed Churches

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Puritan Board Freshman
My ancestors are from Hungary and was members of the Hungarian Reformed Church. I speak a bit Hungarian too. In Hungary 20% of the population are Reformed. In Transylavania about the 60% of the hungarians are Reformed as wellas Transcarpathia in Ukraine. In the USA about 1,2 million people had Hungarian ancestors or are Hungarians. How could happened that there are so few North American Hungarian Reformed Churches exist today. It should be thousands, I think.


Puritanboard Commissioner
Looks like they split between what is now the ultra-liberal PCUSA and the ultra-liberal UCC.

Then there is the Hungarian Reformed Church in America, also with strong liberal credentials - member of the WCC and the NCC.

Looks like anyone of Hungarian ancestry seeking reformed teaching should have long since fled their ethnic brethren (used in the Middle English, not the theological affiliation sense).


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Unless an immigrant group settles together often about the same time, or various refugees coalesce into recognizable community, the normal course of life leads to fairly rapid assimilation into the dominant culture.

Obviously, there were a few of these concentrations for some Hungarian immigrants, which shows itself in the occasional historically Hungarian Reformed church. Also, there have been denominational mergers (as pointed out above) which can "clear the landscape," so to speak.

A major problem immediately for churches is: who will pastor them? Did pastors emigrate also? Worship in the native tongue demands fluent speakers, trained in theology. If the group of immigrants is poor, and spread out, it is not likely they will be establishing a Hungarian-speaking, well-staffed theological school right away--if ever.

Of course, this situation will weaken an already perilous religious condition.

But at least as common is how often immigrants seek out a familiar church setting. One can ask by comparison: "Where are the Huguenot churches in North America?" They were literally expelled almost all at once by the hundreds of thousands after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 1685. And many of them ended up on Colonial shores, in a predominately English-speaking culture (New France, i.e. Quebec, was not a receptive locale).

In the South Carolina locale, their first inclination was to identify with the Presbyterians. However, the Presbyterians were so "low church," that the comparatively (continental) liturgical Huguenots found Anglican worship more aligned with the (Reformed) worship they left behind in France. Most of their strength, then, came into the Anglican church.

How we worship is no light thing. Our theology shapes the worship culture; then the worship culture shapes our theology. I suppose that many Reformed Hungarians, if their faith was strong, ended up in English-speaking churches that would nourish that faith. And many others ended up in culturally associated churches (e.g. Roman) that were very different theologically, but had the social ties so important to immigrants.
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