Unitarian History in Transylvania

Unitarianism traces its religious roots back nearly 450 years to 16th Century Transylvania. There, the theologian Francis David (who in true UU fashion was first a Catholic, then a Calvinist before becoming a Unitarian) converted the King and much of the population to a radical theology -- a theology that espoused the oneness of God and the humanity of Jesus, and that held up reason and tolerance as the pillars of its faith. Today, despite centuries of persecution, there are still some 50,000 Unitarians living in the Transylvania region of Romania.

Our Unitarian brothers and sisters in Transylvania have suffered much over the past four centuries, but they have kept their faith under the most trying circumstances. Today, they have about 120 churches – many of these paired with a US or Canadian UU partner church. There are a few British Unitarian partnerships and also partnerships with the Remonstrants of the Netherlands. Although their religious beliefs and church services are more traditional than ours (there is a formal Unitarian catechism), we all share in some basic values and principles:

  • the use of reason in matters of faith
  • belief in absolute freedom of conscience
  • tolerance of differing opinions.

The villages, towns and cities of Transylvania are set in lovely, hilly and forested landscape. The people open their hearts and homes to their partners in faith from across the ocean. Many Unitarian families still farm the land that has been passed down from generations. They still struggle to recover from the effects of over forty years of an oppressive Communist government. And now they struggle to make sense of Romania as a part of the European Union with all its standards and regulations. Through it all their Unitarian faith has sustained them.

The Partner Church Program at West Shore. 

 For the last several years, a team of West Shore members has travelled to Transylvania to lead a summer camp for the young people in our partner village. In 2013 a delegation of fourteen West Shore members and friends visited Bagyon and spent a week living in the village. West Shore sponsors high school scholarships for youth from the village and has contributed money for repairs and restorations of the church property. In addition to the friendships built with members of our faith in Translyvania, an  Outreach Offering is typically taken on the Sunday of Pentecost to support our friends in Bagyon.  For more information contact Cil Knutsen  For more information about the Partner Church program, particularly in Transylvania,click here