“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, and have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” ( 1 John 1:6-7)
The hallmark of our Christian faith and identity in the Lord Jesus Christ is fellowship with God and one another. Thus the profession of faith must be commensurate with its practice in life. Therefore the success of our Church life in fellowship with God and one another is an indication of the underlying faith, hope, and trust within us. Our ancestors knew the importance for establishing this church both for the worship of God and for securing the bond we have with Jesus Christ. In fact the “fellowship of the saints” is one of the fundamental requirements for a bonafide church body as defined on biblical principles by the Reformer, John Calvin. The other parts being “where the gospel is proclaimed, the sacraments are administered, and where discipline is practiced.” In addition the necessity for electing elders and having a framework of accountability round out the structure of the church. Naturally the church framework is only adequate when its authority rests upon the founder, Jesus Christ. Thus the church does not exist unto itself but to the One w3ho gave His life for ‘her”, the chief-cornerstone,” who holds us together.
As we celebrated the 100th Anniversary of our congregation last year, we acknowledged that our ancestors were endowed with the ‘faith of our fathers” which they passed on to us. Like them, we must continue to value not only the formal structure of the church but to keep it alive through worship, prayer, work, and fellowship. Like our ancestors, we are called to maintain life in our church through dedication, commitment and sacrifice of time, talent, resource, and energy. To the extent that we do these things we prove the faith within us.
The 100th Church Anniversary celebration has also brought us to crossroads. Although we had gained some 6 new members during the year, an equal amount had been called home to the Lord. It seems that we are holding steady in membership but not so in strength. Hence the ability to carry on with the various projects is becoming a concern and pressing reality. We cannot continue to concentrate a multitude of responsibilities on a few people and still expect a smooth functioning church; such a scenario only invites burn out, discontent, and disorganization. Church projects and events are important to our fellowship with each other because they give opportunity for spiritual growth and interaction, and for meeting the budget bottom line. Yes we do need to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest; but at the same time we must “step-up to the plate” to take on the various stewardship responsibilities. Clearly our efforts need to be focused on evangelism in order to fulfill our election and calling as a church body. We must take seriously the mandate given by Jesus Christ in the Great Commission and reach out to our friends , neighbors, coworkers and outsiders who are unchurched and invite them in. In reality this is our greater work. The Lord does not need lip service but committed followers for the tasks He sets before us, whose heart issue is to win souls for Him.
One of the fundamental ministries of the church is found in Christian Education; the teaching our children the basic doctrines of our glorious faith. At the end of the 2010-2011 school year a new Sunday school superintendent will be needed to coordinate classes, arrange curriculum materials, plan events, and hold teacher meetings. By the end of the 2011-2012 school year two of our teen-age teachers will also be leaving and their positions will need to be filled. It is imperative that church members take on the teaching responsibilities. Or are we ready to face the alternative to disband classes and stand the chance to lose members as well? We have already experienced such losses in the past by some who were dissatisfied with various aspects of our church life, or did not see any future for us and joined other congregations.
Another area that offers opportunity for service and requires dedication is in the Consistory, among the “ruling elders.” They are charged with the operation of the church in both spheres of managing; of the “physical plant” as well as in assisting with the spiritual well being of the church membership. As previously indicated the elders are an integral part of the organized church; otherwise the church would be disorganized. The elders work hand-in-hand with the pastor for the welfare of everyone. Vacancies need to be filled with individual members of good standing who are willing to dedicate themselves to this important leadership position. Here is another opportunity for expressing our god given gifts and learning the meaning of Christlike service.
Yes, the Church of Jesus Christ offers a multitude of opportunity for service where our God given gifts and abilities can be honed to perfection in the crucible of human trials and tribulations. It has a heavenly reward. Don’t miss it.
I do wish to take this opportunity to than the elders of the church for their dedicated service and willingness to expend themselves for the benefit of the membership. I thank the chief-elder, Greg Major, for his supportive role and being “in-tune” with the needs and concerns of the congregation. He has come a long way in these past few years of OJT (on the job training). I thank our dear sister in Christ, Julie Katona, who is suffering with a debilitating illness, for her many years of selfless service to our church fellowship. As a result she is withdrawing from active service on the Consistory. Her zest, zeal, and energies to promote the church of Jesus Christ in this local setting were seemingly boundless. She has literally spent herself in love and concern for people in and out of our church membership and endeared us to outsiders.
The special 100-th Church Anniversary Committee also deserves special mention; there were so many people involved in various sub-committees to ensure a well-organized celebration under the leadership and oversight of it chairman, our former chief-elder, John Evankó. I thank everyone for the efforts on a job well done. The Anniversary Committee’s hard work paid-off in the publishing of a Commemorative Anniversary Album that was distributed to all who attended the celebration. A separate Pictorial Directory was also published. The 100-th Anniversary Service was held on October 9-th at which time we gave thanks to God for His manifold blessings upon the past century of our witness and ministry in Fairport Harbor. Bishop Béla Poznán from Connecticut and former Bishop Koloman K. Ludwig from Indiana gave the sermon message in Hungarian and English. A banquet was held at Hellriegel’s Inn, Painesville.
The ladies of our Women’s Fellowship continue the various dinners and projects as a means for supporting the church’s financial well being. Although their ranks continue to dwindle, there are many “honorary” members who lend a hand and make material contributions for their cause. As a result of illness and limitations their monthly visitation to Church members in Nursing Homes has been discontinued. It was a valuable addition to the pastor’s ministry.
The Men’s Group also continues to make a difference in the life of our congregation and its operation. The fruit of their labor is generally earmarked to help with mortgage payments on the Calvin Center but they also help in other ways. I thank them for purchasing a new cordless microphone headset for us during church services. Its more sensitive voice reception and transmission capacity boosts the volume output throughout the sanctuary.
Although I have previously reflected on the Sunday school situation, it is fitting and proper to acknowledge and thank the teachers, aides, and superintendent for their dedication and service. The Gospel Light curriculum used for instructional purposes is well liked, although it is pricey. The teachers are s t r e t c h i n g the lessons to last for 2 quarters of the school year instead of three in order to save on expenses. Therefore the Consistory is recommending the acceptance of a new budget line item of $500 yearly support designated to help the Sunday school defray such costs. The Youth Group continues its routine involvement in the life of the church. In the summer one of them attended Youth Camp and formed many friends.
During the year we held regularly scheduled worship services and implemented the new structure of having Hungarian service once-a-month and on church holidays. In the summer two worship services wee held outdoors followed by a picnic that everyone enjoyed. From among the 125 supportive church membership the average church attendance was 51 members at English and 5 at the Hungarian services. In addition we hosted and participated in various ecumenical services in our fair town.
Pastoral activities include the following: There were 37 hospital visitations of the sick, 39 members were visited in Nursing Homes with some partaking in Holy Communion, 43 home visitations were made to the “home-bound” most of whom also partook of Holy Communion, and 5 counseling sessions were conducted. In addition the pastor was assigned the administration of the West Side Hungarian Reformed Church in Cleveland and he is conducting their Saturday morning Confirmation classes there as well. The pastor’s tenure as Secretary of the Calvin Synod’s Conference Council ended last June but he still represents our churches on the Bethlen Communities as its Board of Directors chairman and in the BOD of the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America. It is a joy and pleasure to serve God’s people wherever they may be.
May God continue to shower blessings upon each and every member of our congregation to prosper the work of our hands for His glory.
Rev. Louis Medgyesi
Hungarian Reformed Church Page