Friday, July 14, 2006

Confirmation Sunday

Been very busy or offline most of the last couple weeks. Two weeks ago I attended confirmation Sunday services at the First Unitarian Church of Kolozsvar.

I got to share a very different liturgical experience yesterday. It was confirmation Sunday at the Unitarian Church of Koloszvar. At first this was the source of some confusion for me because the church was packed with a few hundred people. I heard the bell (which is only a couple hundred feet out my window, and thought it might be too late.

I walked down several flights of stairs. (We are staying in the dorms which are in the attic of the Unitarian high school. The headquarters for the Unitarian Church of Transylvania is in the same building and the church is right next door). I made it to the street just in time to see the minister and the bishop in their robes walking in with the kids who were going to be confirmed. In the foyer there was a large stone that commemorated David Ferenc (Francis David) proclaiming the Diet of Torda.

I walked in the big outer door (which I will admit I was a little afraid to open when I passed it each day on my way to Hungarian class).

A woman tried to explain to me that it was a “templom unitariaus.” I told her “Es unitarius amerikai vajyok” which is bad grammar but I think she got my point. Another woman who seemed to be in a position of authority came out to the foyer where we were standing and said “Tessek” which could mean either “What do you want?” or “That’s it.” She meant the latter as she closed a curtain in front of the door behind us and went through the inner door and back to her pew. She invited the older woman to a seat and helped a couple other latecomers find room around the side of the sanctuary.

I stood for most of the regular service. I managed to get a seat after the regular service had ended and the confirmation ceremony was well under way

I have been thinking a lot lately about what Unitarian Universalism could learn from the confirmation practices of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania. On the one hand, it is easy to see it as just like the confirmation services we might see at Catholic or mainline Protestant churches in the US. In a packed church in Kolozsvar, I got to see a multigenerational service, where grandparents and little sisters and big brothers clearly were remembering their own confirmation or looking forward to their own chance to march in with the minister and take communion in front of the whole community. It is this idea of a multigenerational, family faith that I think would be a true revolution in Unitarian Universalism, at least as I see it on the west coast of the United States.