Companion Synod – Hungary

Building mutual relationships between the Northeastern Iowa Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary


Welcome to Seminarian from Hungary

January 2020

Bence Slezák, a Lutheran Seminary student from Hungary, visited various Lutheran ministries in the Northeastern Iowa Synod during January as part of the synod’s companion synod relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary. Slezak attends seminary in Budapest and is in the United States for a year of study at Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

Slezák flew to Iowa after a visit to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Pastor Mark Anderson, assistant to the Bishop, hosted Slezák and, despite a snow delay, Slezák visited several sites, including St. Paul Lutheran and La Luz Hispana organization in Hampton to learn about the Latino population; St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School, Waverly; Messiah Lutheran, Janesville, and St. John Lutheran (Maxfield), Denver, to learn about rural ministry; Wartburg College; two area farms and the synod office.

Thank you to everyone who took time to host Slezák and show him Iowa hospitality.


YAGM visitors

July 2019

Tabby and Tony returned to the U.S. after their year of service in Nyíregyháza, Hungary, with Young Adults in Global Mission Central Europe. Vandus Turó is studying in Nyíregyháza and was sent by the Lutheran Church in Hungary to spend her summer break serving at camp EWALU in Strawberry Point. All stopped by the Northeastern Iowa Synod (Hungary’s companion synod) office to say “szia!” to partners in ministry, including Pastor Mark Anderson!



Hungarian Seminarian Visits

January 2019

Ádám Nagy, a Lutheran seminary student from Hungary, spent a week in January 2019 visiting various Lutheran ministries as a guest of the Northeastern Iowa Synod. Nagy’s visit was arranged through an invitation from the Rev. Dr. Kit Kleinhans, who serves as dean of Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, where Nagy is attending two semesters of study.

Pastor Mark Anderson, assistant to the Bishop, hosted Nagy and, despite snowy weather, they visited several sites, including Trinity Lutheran, Mason City; St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School, Wartburg College, Bremwood, Bartels Lutheran Retirement Center, and the Ron Zelle farm, Waverly.

Nagy will have two years of seminary to complete in Hungary when he returns. He is interested in working with youth ministry to help children grow in faith. During his visit to Iowa, Nagy especially enjoyed participating in youth ministry and visiting the school at St. Paul’s, meeting the youth at Bremwood, and visiting the residents at Bartels.



Youth Gathering Guest

June 2018

Áron Czapek joined the youth from Trinity Lutheran, Mason City, to travel to the ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston this summer. Áron is a 17-year-old Lutheran living in Budapest. He attends secondary school where he is in a specialized science class. After graduation he plans to go to university.

Áron shared about his visit to the U.S. and experience at the Youth Gathering in a Lutheran Magazine in Hungary. 

Read Áron’s story >>



Camp Ewalu Guest

May 2018

Eszter Andó, a 24-year-old woman from Hungary who is serving as a member of the camp staff at Ewalu Camp and Retreat Center this summer.

Eszter was baptized in the Lutheran Church. At age six she began playing piano, including for the church and in competitions. In her free time she is a vocalist and piano player in a rock band.

Eszter is currently in university studies for biology and geography teaching. During her most recent semester, she taught a high school geography class. She is coming to Ewalu to gain work experience with youth in an international environment and to improve her language and communication skills.



Companion Synod-Hungary Visits

Download this excerpt from a 2017 newsletter of the Lutheran Church in Hungary that highlights some of the companion synod visits that have taken place between the Northeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA and the Lutheran Church in Hungary.



Hungarian students visit the synod

May 2017

Two health care students from the University of Debrecen, Hungary, and participants in the Lutheran Church’s “Roma College” visited the Northeastern Iowa Synod from April 20 – May 5, 2017.

Vanda Krisztina Túró was studying to be a health care visitor, and Judith Megyesi was studying to be a midwife. In addition to practicing their English and visiting some area attractions, the students visited health care facilities and shadowed a county nurse, a school nurse, a parish nurse, and a physical therapist who works in geriatric and pediatric settings. They also visited some congregations, colleges and social ministries, as well as two farms.
Thank you to everyone who helped to make these guests from Hungary feel welcome!



Roma College director visits Northeastern Iowa Synod


The Northeastern Iowa Synod welcomed Pastor Erzsébet Molnár, director of the Lutheran-sponsored Roma College in Hungary, as a guest from May 30 to June 15, 2016. The Roma College is a residential college program that provides mointoring, cultural education and other support to help Roma students transition to university life.

During her visit, Molnár met with the synod’s Companion Synod – Hungary Network, preached at Trinity Lutheran in Mason City, and participated in WIYLDE, the Wholly Iowa Youth Leadership Discipling Event at Wartburg College. She addressed the Synod Assembly, where she also led a Hungary Companion Synod seminar and joined youth for fellowship.

In addition, Molnár met with people responsible for helping minority populations integrate in academic institutions at Wartburg College, the University of Northern Iowa, Augsburg College, and College Possible in Minneapolis.



Roma guest visits Northeastern Iowa Synod

May 2015

Hungary guestThe Northeastern Iowa Synod and Wartburg College welcomed a Hungarian Roma guest in May 2015 as part of the companion synod relationship between the Northeastern Iowa Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary (ELCH). At the same time, a Wartburg Theological Seminary student visited a Hungarian university as a guest of the ELCH.

Jeri was the guest of honor at two receptions in Waverly, and he worshipped and spoke about his Roma culture at four churches: Zion (Jubilee), La Porte City; Zion, Castalia; United, Chester; and St. Paul (Maple Leaf), Elma. In addition, he visited two Iowa farms; toured the Iowa Capitol, the State Historical Museum and the offices of the Iowa Department of Human Services in Des Moines; met with faculty at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque; and attended a Rachel Kurtz concert.

Wartburg College provided lodging for Jeri, who recently received his social work degree from the University of Debrecen in Hungary. Jeri accompanied Wartburg social work students on their field placements to area social service agencies, including North Star Community Services, The Larrabee Center, Boys & Girls Club of the Cedar Valley, and St. Paul Lutheran’s Saints Alive after-school program in Waverly.

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Jeri enjoyed his time in Iowa and noted that he especially liked being among people who showed no racism toward him for being a Roma (formerly called Gypsy), like he encounters in Hungary. Jeri left Iowa on May 22.

“We’re really doing some creative things in this companion relationship,” said Kit Kleinhans, Wartburg College professor of religion who holds the Mike and Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission. “This exchange has the opportunity to be transformational in the life of this young Roma man and also in the life of one of our synod’s seminary students, to see how things are done in a very different culture and how much the church is involved in addressing some of their social issues.”

The synod and Wartburg College funded the airfare and room and board expenses for Jeri’s visit. Congregations and individuals are invited to contribute toward those costs.

“Our hope is that this exchange will be only a first step in a continuing and expanding partnership between the synod, Wartburg and the Roma College at the University of Debrecen,” said Pastor Mark Anderson, assistant to the Bishop. “The opportunities this collaboration makes possible are staggering.



Wartburg seminarian visits Hungary


Katie FrushKatie Frush, a first year student at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque and a member of Zion (Jubilee) Lutheran Church in La Porte City, spent a few weeks in the spring of 2015 at the Roma College in Nyíregyháza in Hungary as a cross-cultural immersion.

She worked alongside Roma College students and had opportunities to engage in a network of social programs, such as a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, elderly care facility, women’s shelter, meal program and addiction center. She stayed in a Nyíregyháza College dormitory.

Follow Katie’s blog about her time in Hungary.

Read about Katie’s trip to Hungary in 2015.


Support Young Adults Serving in Hungary

The Northeastern Iowa Synod encourages congregations to support the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) serving in Hungary. 


Read more.



About the Compaion Synod – Hungary Network

DSCN9689 sm2The Northeastern Iowa Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hungary began a companion synod relationship in 2011. Through this relationship, synod members have an opportunity to expand their horizons to learn, grow and pray with and for our brothers and sisters in Hungary.

In August 2011, the Rev. Dr. Tamas Fabiny, bishop of the Northern District of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary (ELCH), and his wife visited the ELCA churchwide offices in Chicago and several sites in the Northeastern Iowa Synod. In May 2013, Bishop Steven Ullestad and others from the Northeastern Iowa Synod visited Bishop Fabiny, congregations and other sites in Hungary.


  • Our faith and synod are strengthened by our relationships with our companion synod.
  • Our companionship builds us up — we learn from other people, which helps us recognize what is happening here.



  • Seek ways to get our congregations involved.
  • Submit a supplement to the Star newsletter before year end.



  • Continue to support of the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) project.
  • Share about YAGMs and companion synod at conference assemblies.
  • Work to establish congregational connections with churches in Hungary.
  • Feature Katie Frush in Star newsletter about her trip to Hungary.
  • Arrange a conference call with Bishop Tamas Fabiny about the Syria refugee crisis and the 60th Anniversary of the 1956 uprising in Hungary.



  • Utilize communications tools such as Skype to connect youth groups, build partnerships and exchange ideas.




SYNOD COUNCIL LIAISON — Rev. Erika J. Kielstrup
SYNOD STAFF — Rev. Mark A. Anderson



Global Mission Links




Northeastern Iowa Synod Trip to Hungary

May 2013

Members of the Northeastern Iowa Synod and Wartburg College visited Hungary in May 2013 as part of the Companion Synod relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hungary.

Ashley Debilzen, a Young Adult in Global Mission (YAGM), writes about the Iowa group’s visit in her blog. The group met Ashley at the Children’s House in Gorogszallas where she works. Ashley accompanied the group to Nyiregyhaza where they visited the Roma College and met another YAGM, Kristen Wall. The visit to the Roma camp was a life-changing day for many in the group.

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