Bence Slezák, a Lutheran Seminary student from Hungary, visited various Lutheran ministries in the Northeastern Iowa Synod during January as part of the synod’s companion synod relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary. Slezak attends seminary in Budapest and is in the United States for a year of study at Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.
Slezák flew to Iowa after a visit to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Pastor Mark Anderson, assistant to the Bishop, hosted Slezák and, despite a snow delay, Slezák visited several sites, including St. Paul Lutheran and La Luz Hispana organization in Hampton to learn about the Latino population; St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School, Waverly; Messiah Lutheran, Janesville, and St. John Lutheran (Maxfield), Denver, to learn about rural ministry; Wartburg College; two area farms and the synod office.
Thank you to everyone who took time to host Slezák and show him Iowa hospitality.
Tabby and Tony returned to the U.S. after their year of service in Nyíregyháza, Hungary, with Young Adults in Global Mission Central Europe. Vandus Turó is studying in Nyíregyháza and was sent by the Lutheran Church in Hungary to spend her summer break serving at camp EWALU in Strawberry Point. All stopped by the Northeastern Iowa Synod (Hungary’s companion synod) office to say “szia!” to partners in ministry, including Pastor Mark Anderson!
Ádám Nagy, a Lutheran seminary student from Hungary, spent a week in January 2019 visiting various Lutheran ministries as a guest of the Northeastern Iowa Synod. Nagy’s visit was arranged through an invitation from the Rev. Dr. Kit Kleinhans, who serves as dean of Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, where Nagy is attending two semesters of study.
Pastor Mark Anderson, assistant to the Bishop, hosted Nagy and, despite snowy weather, they visited several sites, including Trinity Lutheran, Mason City; St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School, Wartburg College, Bremwood, Bartels Lutheran Retirement Center, and the Ron Zelle farm, Waverly.
Nagy will have two years of seminary to complete in Hungary when he returns. He is interested in working with youth ministry to help children grow in faith. During his visit to Iowa, Nagy especially enjoyed participating in youth ministry and visiting the school at St. Paul’s, meeting the youth at Bremwood, and visiting the residents at Bartels.
The Northeastern Iowa Synod welcomed Pastor Erzsébet Molnár, director of the Lutheran-sponsored Roma College in Hungary, as a guest from May 30 to June 15, 2016. The Roma College is a residential college program that provides mointoring, cultural education and other support to help Roma students transition to university life.
During her visit, Molnár met with the synod’s Companion Synod – Hungary Network, preached at Trinity Lutheran in Mason City, and participated in WIYLDE, the Wholly Iowa Youth Leadership Discipling Event at Wartburg College. She addressed the Synod Assembly, where she also led a Hungary Companion Synod seminar and joined youth for fellowship.
In addition, Molnár met with people responsible for helping minority populations integrate in academic institutions at Wartburg College, the University of Northern Iowa, Augsburg College, and College Possible in Minneapolis.
The Northeastern Iowa Synod and Wartburg College welcomed a Hungarian Roma guest in May 2015 as part of the companion synod relationship between the Northeastern Iowa Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary (ELCH). At the same time, a Wartburg Theological Seminary student visited a Hungarian university as a guest of the ELCH.
Jeri was the guest of honor at two receptions in Waverly, and he worshipped and spoke about his Roma culture at four churches: Zion (Jubilee), La Porte City; Zion, Castalia; United, Chester; and St. Paul (Maple Leaf), Elma. In addition, he visited two Iowa farms; toured the Iowa Capitol, the State Historical Museum and the offices of the Iowa Department of Human Services in Des Moines; met with faculty at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque; and attended a Rachel Kurtz concert.
Wartburg College provided lodging for Jeri, who recently received his social work degree from the University of Debrecen in Hungary. Jeri accompanied Wartburg social work students on their field placements to area social service agencies, including North Star Community Services, The Larrabee Center, Boys & Girls Club of the Cedar Valley, and St. Paul Lutheran’s Saints Alive after-school program in Waverly.
Jeri enjoyed his time in Iowa and noted that he especially liked being among people who showed no racism toward him for being a Roma (formerly called Gypsy), like he encounters in Hungary. Jeri left Iowa on May 22.
“We’re really doing some creative things in this companion relationship,” said Kit Kleinhans, Wartburg College professor of religion who holds the Mike and Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission. “This exchange has the opportunity to be transformational in the life of this young Roma man and also in the life of one of our synod’s seminary students, to see how things are done in a very different culture and how much the church is involved in addressing some of their social issues.”
The synod and Wartburg College funded the airfare and room and board expenses for Jeri’s visit. Congregations and individuals are invited to contribute toward those costs.
“Our hope is that this exchange will be only a first step in a continuing and expanding partnership between the synod, Wartburg and the Roma College at the University of Debrecen,” said Pastor Mark Anderson, assistant to the Bishop. “The opportunities this collaboration makes possible are staggering.