After successfully leading a secondary school in Budapest for five years, The United Methodist Church in Hungary has taken leadership of a second school.
“During the five years since the first school has been received, we have gained positive experiences. The years spent with our Forrai school encourage us to start the cooperation with Schola Europa,ʺ said the Rev. László Khaled, superintendent of The United Methodist Church in Hungary.
He said there have been many meaningful encounters of students, teachers and people of The United Methodist Church in Hungary – both at school programs and in the local church. Khaled added that the greatest need of the students is “to feel accepted and loved and it touches them if they experience all this in a Methodist congregation. ʺ
The church took over the Forrai Arts Secondary School in Budapest in 2013 after many conversations, clarifications and prayers.
The money to operate the school, which has more than 400 students and teachers, mainly comes from the Hungarian government. School is free to students and the government pays teacher salaries, building and equipment. Church members serve on the school councils and provide ministries with the schools.
In 2017, another high school in Budapest, the Schola Europa, asked to become a United Methodist school, too.
“The institution sought us, we did not go after the school,ʺ Khaled said. “Although the director has a Calvinist background, she believes that the development of the future of the school could be more fruitful with The United Methodist Church than with a larger denomination.ʺ
In the five years that the church has overseen the Forrai Arts Secondary School, United Methodists have been happy with the collaboration, he said.
Three United Methodists work at the school and do not only contribute towards the education of the students but also invest their time in the relationships with the other teachers. They offer, for instance, a spiritual retreat for teachers and a Bible study and discussion group.
The Rev. Zsófi Pásztor, one of the three United Methodists at the school, has a part-time appointment to the Forrai School and is also available for pastoral care.
Budapest-Obuda United Methodist Church primarily relates to the Forrai school. The church has a partnership with St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in El Paso, Texas.
A number of students have participated in church camps. A special highlight this year was once again the English Camp with United Methodist teachers from the Texas church. Students can do their social service with the church, so they regularly help with events and participate in the ministry with Roma children in Kürtöspuszta.
“We had a great opportunity to have fun, practice English, but above all to talk and testify about Jesus. I believe we managed to do this in a non-threatening way by creating a safe, warm, and accepting environment. The students made new friends, improved their English, had a chance to open up, to learn about themselves, and to draw closer to God,ʺ Sándor Szabados, a United Methodist teacher at Forrai School, said about the camp.
The Schola Europa, another Budapest high school, contacted the church in 2017 and asked to become a United Methodist school.
There were again months of deliberations, consideration, and prayers. The church in Hungary has fewer than 500 professing members, but decided to take responsibility for the school.
The Schola Europe primarily relates to Budapest-Pest United Methodist Church, which has a partnership with the Embarras River District of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. Khaled said Illinois church members have come to Hungary to support the church ministries with the school and hope to return next summer.
The annual conference approved the move in spring 2018 and the school became United Methodist on Sept. 1.
This article originally appeared on umnews.org