A project shared by various Christian churches turned into a great civic event. There were various activities in the stands in terms of volunteer work, health, education, associations and community, employment and science.
The festival took place in the park of Szeged, city in the south of Hungary and was “the biggest open-air, free of charge event of the year .” It was publicized at the Open Air Festival, in a press release, and distinguished itself for the great number of participants and performances.
But what was the novelty of this event? «When, a few years ago they announced for the first time a possible Christian manifestation at city-level, no one thought that such an ambitious project could ever come about in our country, », wrote Új Város, the Focolare Magazine in Hungary. «It was not just the dream of a single person, but of the ecumenical group of pastors of that city. A dream which, a year and a half ago, started to take form, involving various religious, civil and political associations, » until it gave rise to the Festival held from 25 to 27 September.
As Orsolya Szlaukó, an evangelical lady-pastor affirmed: «In Szeged, the ecumenical group of pastors that lance the idea of organising something that would announce Christianity. The logo and four colours and also the entire Festival drew inspiration from a Psalm: “the Lord led me out ” (Psalm, 18). We dreamt and thought of making a gift to the inhabitants of Szeged, by showing the unity of the Christian churches and the values of these communities. ». An organizer affirmed; «Our mission addresses the city and not only our communities», and another organizer, Sándor Tari added: «Our role was to ensure the good flow of the event, and not that of being in the limelight.» Another organizer added: «During the Festival each of us found the program which suited him best, from the youth to the elderly, » and the lady-pastor concluded: «We made room for concerts, round tables, playgrounds and stands of various organizations. ».
«The 60 stands disseminated like huts along the park’s avenues, formed four city districts that showed the visitors the initiatives under way: an electrician held a workshop for kids, a healthcare stand which was visited by 700 people, with blood donation, and there were university professors who gave lessons. The parishes and the ecclesial communities held a great variety of creative initiatives.»
Sándor Tari worked for a whole year on the setup of the stands area. «The aim was to represent every sector of the city: from the farmers, labourers, culture, healthcare… The condition set for the exhibition stands was to be open to friendship with the organisers and among themselves. Also the Police and Fire-fighters participated.» Sándor recounted that among the projects was to continue and probably hold another similar event in two years time. «I really liked the family atmosphere with many parents and children, » the father of a family said. But also the youth had a range of choices between the various bands that performed on stage, among which Gen Verde, Hillsong and Hungarian music groups. «Here there is an atmosphere we do not see every day, and listening to them one can feel peace in the bottom of our hearts », a young man said.
The evangelical bishop Péter Gáncs, in an interview with the Duna TV Channel explained why he believed it was important for him to participate : «From the start, I liked the title of the Festival, Open Space. At times I have the impression that the churches are afraid to go all out. 25 years after the change of regime, we see that people still do not willingly go to church. So we are the ones who have to go out. That’s why I really appreciated this ecumenical get-together to go out into the square, into the streets. ».
Source: Új Város n.1/2016