|Visit of the Authority of the Evangelical Reformed in Europe|
|Tuesday, 31 January 2012 11:28|
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The Lithuanian Evangelical Reformed Church is not alone in the challenges it faces. At the beginning of the Advent of 2011, Rev. Ódor Balázs, the vice-president of the World Communion of the Reformed Churches, European Area, came to Vilnius on a working visit. The accredited representative of the Reformed Alliance of Germany (Reformierten Bund in Deutschland) Rev. Erhard Mische was visiting Lithuania during that time as well.
Meetings were held at the President's Palace and at the Ministry of Justice. We should remind the readers that after the attempt to force into the building of the church of Biržai Evangelical Reformed and to interfere with the Synod of the Reformed of Lithuania on the 24th June, the authorities of the World Communion of the Reformed Churches at Geneva and the European Area, immediately submitted applications to state institutions of Lithuania and embassies in other countries. There was also an immediate reaction from one of the most influential Reformed Churches in Germany- the Reformed Church of Lippe Region and the most numerous in Europe - the Reformed Church in Hungary.
Rev. Ódor Balázs, the representative of the Reformed Church of Hungary, is very well aware of problems arising between the state and the Protestant churches in Eastern and Central Europe. In the states that have freed themselves from totalitarian regimes the dialogue between the representatives of minor denominations and the state which should respect the autonomy of the church is not yet mutual. It should be mentioned that denominations themselves, after years of oppression of forced atheism, are recuperating slowly, they lack experience of how to safeguard their interests in the state. The guest noticed that the state and the church are legally separated in Lithuania. Basically, it is a very positive thing, but, in his opinion, it should be taken into account that both the state and the church are integral parts of the same society. The Republic of Lithuania, having enumerated particular traditional religious communities and unions in its Constitution, took the responsibility of executing its duties and maintaining legal and trustworthy relations with those religions. Members of the church are the citizens of the state, respecting its Constitution and the church is guided by the Constitution in establishing its legal and just relations with the authorities of the state. At the same time they will continue to build their relations with the state on the ground of the Canon Law - the Church Constitution - and through canonically appointed church authorities and expect the state to meet its engagements to respect a traditional, though small Evangelical church.
During their visit in Vilnius the guests met with the authorities of the Consistory and the Synod of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Lithuania, the General Superintendant Rev. Tomas Šernas, the authorities of the Vilnius Reformed congregation, the church lawyers. They together with the vice superintendent Rev. Rimas Mikalauskas visited the embassies of their countries.
A congress of the authorities of the Reformed Churches in the European Area is due in Viena at the end of March 2012. There are going 39 Reformed churches in Europe to be represented. A representative of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Lithuania is going to make a report about the current situation of the Church in Lithuania and the relationship between the state and the church.
It is worthwhile mentioning that the most active, strongest, the most numerous and richest are the Reformed churches in Switzerland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Scotland and Germany. They have got old and strong political, cultural and civic traditions in their countries. Strong, though minor, Evangelical Reformed churches are in France, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Belgium and in the Czech Republic.