This blog represents the thoughts of the author. While they may reflect the theological position of The Renewal Fellowship, they should not be seen as an official statement.
What’s inclusive for some is having the opposite effect for others.
A group of Hungarian Presbyterian congregations is the latest to go on the record about feeling excluded by the ongoing liberal theological drift in The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
“We sadly observe and experience that our beloved Church we have belonged to for decades as Hungarian Calvinists goes into a direction that may exclude us,” states a petition signed by the ministers of six congregations.
The May 21, 2021 statement describes how the PCC provided a welcome home for “Calvinist Reformed Hungarian immigrants arriving to Canada” at various times in the last 100 years. They describe being “received graciously, lovingly by The Presbyterian Church in Canada. We joyfully joined this denomination because of our confessions and traditions were very similar to the Canadian Presbyterians.”
They resisted the push toward an inclusive theological agenda in recent decades. The 2019 remits proposing dual definitions of marriage and the ordination of those in same-sex marriage represent a line they refuse to cross. The remits are on General Assembly’s June 6-9 agenda for approval.
The petition is the latest official statement by PCC ethnic congregations. It follows petitions by both Korean-language presbyteries, a statement from a coalition of Chinese congregations and a letter from a large Arabic congregation.
Rev. Miklos Szigeti, of First Hungarian Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, said in an email, “We just wanted to support our beloved brothers and sisters and also to demonstrate our unity.”
The petition appears to speak for most of the Hungarian-language congregations in the PCC. Szigeti said his Hungarian cohorts feel that those who are advancing a liberal theology are “pushing us with power to accept that is against the revelation of God – but we are unable to be in unity with that.”
The petition does not seek a specific remedy.
“We will listen to the Lord and also to our Korean, Chinese and other ethnic brothers and sisters. We are praying and waiting,” Szigeti wrote.
The Hungarian petition – signed by ministers from congregations in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal – is too late to be received by this year’s General Assembly, but it provides powerful support for the landmark petitions by PCC’s Korean-speaking congregations.
In March, Western and Eastern Han-Ca presbyteries joined forces to adopt petitions alleging that they are being treated as “nothing more than a marginal group whose voice is deemed as one which can, and should be ignored.” They accuse the “primarily Anglo-driven dominant culture” of the denomination for sidelining the beliefs of ethnic minorities, most of whom adhere to conservative theology.
In response, GA’s Bills and Overtures Committee is recommending the appointment of a special committee to consider the allegations and report to a future Assembly.
The Han-Ca petitions are backed by a coalition of six Chinese congregations, known as the Chinese Consultation. In a May 10 statement, they declared a similar experience as the Koreans. The Chinese statement accompanies a letter asking General Assembly not to approve the remits.
In April the session of Chapel Place Presbyterian Church – an Arabic-speaking congregation in Markham, Ont. – released its own strongly-worded letter to the Clerks of Assembly, supporting the Han-Ca concerns.
General Assembly meets online June 6-9.