On the 22nd of April, FinnAgora organised together with The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary and the Embassy of Finland in Hungary a seminar for the Finnish and Hungarian friendship congregations. This was the third time such an event was organised where the friendship congregations gathered to discuss mutual matters at the Embassy of Finland. The continuance of the collaboration was emphasised in the opening remarks by the Ambassador of Finland Pertti Anttinen, bishop János Szemerei and the director of FinnAgora dr. Riikkamari Muhonen. The same emphasis on collaboration ended the seminar in the finishing words by moderators Klára Tass Celovszkyné and Anneli Temmes.

The theme of the seminar “From Exchange to Mutual Understanding” is very topical. The seminar's main keynote speakers were experts on the work of friendship congregations, dr. Sakari Häkkinen from Finland and dr. Máté Joóp from Hungary. Both shared their own experiences on the important years of the collaboration, visits and friendships that flourished throughout the decades. Both also brought up genuine concern and challenges for the continuation of this collaboration. The collaboration cannot be dependent on the pastor or any individual person, but should be spread out in the congregation as a whole.

At the seminar the importance of getting young people to join the collaboration was discussed. Connections between schools and student exchange were highlighted. Possible collaboration through music was also brought up. These themes were topics for the panel discussion organised as part of the seminar. The panellists brought up important points and wishes of the future based on their own experiences, and through a video greeting from Pori by the Teljä congregation.

The importance and outcomes of the seminar were not only the discussed themes, but also the meetings and discussions during coffee breaks and at the Ambassador’s reception. These interactions create memories, raise questions, thoughts, and ideas, and perhaps some of them even lead to concrete action. The attendees of the seminar came from different parts of Hungary, and will surely want to continue and develop the collaboration and mutual understanding also in the future.

Written by Anneli Temmes.