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Rev. Dr. Árpád Szabó 1935-2010

Posted By Janette M. Lallier, Friday, October 1, 2010

The Consistory of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church announces with deep sorrow the decease of its retired leader, Rev. Dr. Árpád Szabó, the 30th bishop of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church, who passed away on 30 September 2010, at the age of 76, following a year of hard illness endured with dignity and good faith.

During his lifetime he worked to promote the fulfilment of the centuries-old, historic mission of the Unitarian church, and served its needs with devoted enthusiasm, at convenient and inconvenient times. "Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid!” he preached the gospel of Jesus: the experience of God’s provident love, the responsible vocation of the Christian people, and the preserving power of a religious community.

He was born in 1935 in an ancient Unitarian village along the valley of the Homoród, and he studied in Városfalva, Székelykeresztúr and Kolozsvár, where he obtained his ministerial degree between 1953-1957. He started his career in the church as a secretary to the bishop between 1958-1965, later as the minister of the downtown Kolozsvár congregation between 1965-1976. In 1974 he became the professor of Unitarian biblical theology at the Protestant Theological Institute, and in 1977-1978, the scholarship holder of the Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. In 1996 the Synod elected him as the 30th bishop of the church, reinforcing his title in 2002. He retired in 2008, after half of a century of church service.

The first part of his service passed in a period of great tribulations in church history, while the second part fell in times of opened perspectives. He fulfilled his mission with responsibility and commitment in both periods. As a minister, he called the attention of his parishioners upon the providing care of God and His power to preserve the community. As a teacher, he worked for the aim of passing on his knowledge in theological science and the vocation of ministry to the young generations. As a bishop, he sought to find orientation among newly appearing opportunities, and urged the spiritual and financial strengthening of the church. His attention was also extended on intellectual needs: by his own example, he encouraged the pursuance of theological sciences and literature, and the editing of church periodicals. The restarting of the denominational schools and their development into quality educational institutions, the strengthening of the church institutions, the constructions of new church buildings, and the promotion of international relations are all good evidence for his devoted, conscious, responsible service.

His funeral service will take place on Monday, the 4th of October 2010, at the Unitarian church of downtown Kolozsvár, from where he will be accompanied to the cemetery of Házsongárd.

May his memory be blessed!

Kolozsvár, 30 September 2010. The Consistory of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church

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