Calvin Synod Coat of Arms

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The Reformed Church of Hungary is the “mother” of the Hungarian Reformed churches in America, and the only one of the original national churches of the Reformation to survive undivided and dedicated to the Reformed confessions. One of the largest of the Reformed or Calvinist communions, it lives on in present-day Hungary, its neighboring countries (torn off Hungary after WW I), and Diaspora (dispersed around the world, including the USA). Although organized into independent national and regional synods, all subscribe to the Heidelberg Catechism and the Second Helvetic Confession along with the original ecumenical creeds of Trinitarian Christianity.

At the end of the Nineteenth Century, tens of thousands of Hungarians immigrated to the United States, bringing with them their Bibles, Catechisms, and Hymnals. While some developed a church life and new congregations independently, other Calvinists as the German Reformed and the Dutch Reformed, aided others and the Presbyterians, establishing new congregations affiliated with them. After WW I, an effort was made to merge them, without success.

The independent churches organized a new Classis in 1896, relating to the Reformed Church in Hungary, for moral and financial support. After the tragic division of Hungary following the 1st World War, its churches were unable to continue their support of the smaller congregations in the USA. The Reformed Church of Hungary then assigned its Classis churches to the Reformed Church in the United States (former German Reformed), signing the Tiffin Agreement on Oct. 7, 1921. Several of the congregations rejected the terms, and soon afterward organized a “Free Hungarian Reformed” (HRCA) group, and those tied to the Dutch Reformed and Presbyterians remained in those communions.

At first, the Hungarian churches were incorporated into the area Synods, but a new Magyar Synod was created in 1939, following the 1934 merger of the Reformed Church and the Evangelical Synod of North America (with Lutheran roots), which created the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

The Magyar Synod was not created simply to establish a “Hungarian Language” Synod. Instead, it emerged to allow the Hungarian Reformed Churches to maintain their Calvinistic/Reformed theological and confessional heritage. The merger with the German Evangelical Church threatened to dilute the heritage of the Hungarian churches by incorporating Lutheran doctrines and traditions that had been forced upon the Reformed Church in Germany.

Another merger with the Congregationalists in 1957 gave birth to the United Church of Christ. Subsequently, the Magyar Synod’s name was changed, reflecting its faith heritage, to Calvin Synod.