Our Partner church senior Minister, the Reverend Csaba Kecskes, his wife Noemi and their son Peter visited our congregation during October 2011.
Two of our members, Jenn D'Arcy and Dan Leonard traveled to John F. Kennedy airport in New York City to meet and greet the family and drive them to Schenectady. They stayed in the home of the Porter family while they were visiting us.
They were invited to share a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner (complete with turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, apple pie, and all the necessary and wonderful trimmings) at the home of Bob and Sylvie Briber.
They were welcomed on their first visit to the church building by our minister, Rev. Priscilla Richter. They enjoyed touring the building, from the Great Hall to the dining room and kitchen, the meeting rooms and offices, the nursery and children's RE spaces, and the RE rooms and facilities across the street in Waters House. Rev. Csaba and Rev. Priscilla spent time together planning the Sunday Service and then enjoying lunch with the Men's Luncheon group, followed by a visit with Rev. Sam Trumbore of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany.
Friday night, Peter enjoyed an outing with a group of FUSS young people to experience a Halloween haunted house. On Saturday morning, the Kecskes family joined a small group of FUSS volunteers working in one of our local charities: Home Furnishings. They were very handy with the tools and techniques of assembling kitchen furniture (overcoming the challenges of confusing instruction sheets), and took justifiable pride in the results, to be provided to families in need.
Saturday evening, the family joined in the FUSS Fall Family Festival, getting in the spirit with dancing and sharing a jolly social time with about 100 members of the congregation. They participated fully in the potluck supper, as Noemi made a delicious Transylvanian eggplant salad dish that was enjoyed by all.
The highlight of the week was the Sunday Service, led by Rev. Csaba Kecskes and Rev. Priscilla Richter, with help from Worship Associate Lois Porter. During the service, handmade gifts were presented by FUSS to Rev. Csaba and other gifts handmade by members of the Stony Hill church were presented by Rev. Csaba to FUSS. The chancel displayed all these gifts, as well as other Transylvanian arts and crafts and gifts from previous visits.
On Monday, the Kecskes family traveled to the Boston area where they were hosted by Rodger Mattlage. The family enjoyed a busy and educational two days in and around Boston, staying with Rodger and his wife in Concord, MA.
On Wednesday, the Kecskes family returned to Schenectady, where they enjoyed a final festive dinner at the home of Nikki Singh, a member of the FUSS congregation. Joining the FUSS members for the party was the Reverend Russ Savage, who had traveled from his home in Washington, D.C. to be able to spend some time with the Kecskes family.
Via email, Rev. Csaba reports that the family is safely back in their home in Transylvania. The family wants to thank everyone who contributed to making their visit memorable. Special thanks go to those who prepared food for several functions, took them to lunch and to points of interest, and served them dinner at their homes. Our Partner Church (Stony Hill Congregation) has four guest rooms that can accommodate ten people. Csaba reports that several gifts made by FUSS members will be hung on the wall and or used in the “Schenectady” guest room.
So what are the next steps in our partnership? Priscilla and Csaba intend to periodically interchange meditations/prayers to be used in our respective church services. Bill MacTiernan has agreed to make a stand befitting the lovely carved flaming chalice (shown with Csaba holding it in the photo) given to FUSS by our Partner Church. Then the carving will be able to take its rightful place on our chancel. There are many opportunities to visit our partner church. The Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council will put together low-cost, all-inclusive land packages including ground transportation, meals, lodging, a guide/interpreter and entry fees. They will work with groups as small as four people to develop a customized itinerary that fits the interests of the group. Youth service trips are an excellent way to cement a partnership. In addition to customized tours, at least two planned budget “pilgrimages” to Transylvania are available in 2012. The first is April 14-26, 2012 and costs $1,140 plus plane fare per person. This tour begins and ends in Kolosvar (Unitarian headquarters) and includes the most significant of the Unitarian holy places including Torda, Meszko, and Deva. You will visit a UNESCO world heritage site, a medieval walled city and the Saxon fortress church at Biertan. You will spend a long weekend with our Partner Church in Marosvasarhely.
The FUSS Partner Church committee is hopeful that more members will join our ranks and travel to meet our Hungarian sisters and brothers. Those of us who have visited our Unitarian partners in Transylvania found the experience to be truly life enhancing.