History of UUCM’s Partner Church Program
The UU Partner Church Council was formed in 1990 to help foster a cultural, spiritual, and economic bond between American congregations and partner churches in Transylvania. That year UUCM formed a partnership with the Unitarian church in the town of Székelyszentmihály in the Transylvania area of Romania. (See village profile.) Because they are ethnically Hungarian, they have spent the last hundred years as a minority in Romania.
The UUCM Partner Church Committee was formed:
- Fundraise to support college students from our partner church.
- Undertake or support infrastructure projects that improve the quality of life for the town.
- Hold social events with Hungarian foods, music, and videos from Székelyszentmihály to create a cultural bond for UUCM members.
- Coordinate pen pals between the children of our congregation and theirs.
- Support any travelers from our congregation who make the trek to Székelyszentmihály.
Members of our congregation have visited our partner church on six different occasions. We communicate throughout the year with our partner church via Skype.
Past assistance to our partner church has included the following.
- Financial support for a large-scale multi-year project to bring a gas pipeline to the village, providing heat to public buildings. Because gas was available, a Dutch company built a small commercial building and began manufacturing automobile airbags, bringing new jobs to the village in 2006.
- On an early trip, visitors noticed that the gym floor had holes in it and was weathered. A repair project was completed with materials paid for by UUCM and volunteer labor from the village.
- Immediate financial aid sent to families who suffered the loss of buildings, crops, and livestock during flash flooding in August, 2005. Székelyszentmihály was one of 14 villages devastated by a flash flood.
- The UUA Partner Church Committee completed a Community Capacity Building study to help residents prioritize town wide building projects.