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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary

Hungary is a Central European nation of nearly 10 million people. Almost 2 million live in the capital city of Budapest. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary (ELCH) is the third largest historical church in the country with roots going back to the times of Reformation (1517).

Our mission

Lutheran faith is based on the message of the Bible about God’s Love, Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross and the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit. Following the reformatory teachings of Martin Luther, we believe that human beings are not saved by good deeds but by the grace of God alone.

The mission of the ELCH is and has always been to proclaim the gospel, to provide space for practicing one’s faith, to serve those in need and to represent Christian values in the society. These goals are pursued on all levels and in all fields of work: in the congregations, in educational and diaconal establishments, in mission societies, cultural institutes and youth groups.

Our congregations

The congregations of the ELCH are organized into three dioceses: the Northern Diocese, the Southern Diocese and the Western (Transdanubian) Diocese. Each of these dioceses is headed by a bishop and the lay leader of the diocese. The three bishops in office are Presiding Bishop Dr. Tamás Fabiny (Northern Diocese), Bishop Péter Kondor (Southern Diocese) and Bishop János Szemerei (Western/Transdanubian Diocese).

Our congregations are dispersed all over the country. Many of them are in diaspora situation; some bigger Lutheran “clusters” can be found in and around Nyíregyháza, Békéscsaba, Budapest and in the western part of the country.

Each congregation is an independent legal entity with rights to make decisions and to manage its finances. Congregations are led by the pastor and the lay leader of the congregation who jointly represent the local community in legal and administrative matters. The congregations have their own place of worship and run their own activities.

Our institutes – Education and Diaconia

The ELCH and its congregations maintain and operate a large network of educational institutions. Currently there are altogether 53 establishments including kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, vocational schools and student homes.

Lutheran schools aim at setting up high-standard and modern environments for learning and simultaneously creating diverse communities based on Lutheran faith. Religious life at the schools is coordinated by designated school chaplains.

The training of future pastors, church musicians and diaconal professionals takes place at the Lutheran Theological University in Budapest. The ELCH is also part of the Network of Christian Roma Colleges that provide opportunities for young people of Roma and non-Roma origin to attend tertiary education.
The diaconal work of the ELCH is carried out in 40 establishments that provide care and assistance to more than 8000 people. Many of these establishments are residential homes for the elderly but social services are also offered to people living with disabilities, to the homeless or to people suffering from substance abuse.

Culture

Lutheran cultural heritage is primarily preserved and promoted by the Lutheran Central Collection that comprises the Lutheran Archives, the Lutheran Library and the Lutheran Central Museum. These three branches work together to make Lutheranism visible in the society and in the academic world.

One of the greatest treasures of the ELCH collections is the original hand-written Last Will and Testament of Martin Luther. The facsimile of this document can be seen in the Lutheran Central Museum in Budapest.

The ELCH also has its own media organization called Luther Publishing House (LPH). Besides coordinating the media services of the church, LPH publishes the bi-weekly church magazine and other journals, religious books and teaching material. It is also responsible for maintaining the online presence of the ELCH (website, social media sites, a blog and a mobile application).

Decision-making and administration

The highest decision-making body of the ELCH is the Synod, which governs, assists and supervises the spiritual, mental and financial life of the church. The Synod works in plenaries and in committee meetings. In addition to the Synod, governance is also exercised by the Church Board, a smaller group of representatives (both clergy and lay) from the three dioceses and from the national level.

Administration and operative work are carried out by the Central Administrative Office, which is responsible for assisting the decision-making bodies and implementing their decisions. The Central Administrative Office also aims to support the congregations and institutions in their activities.