István Kovács, minister of Sepsiszentyörgy/Sfântu Gheorghe and director of public affairs was elected for the next six years as bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church by the reelection synod held simultaneously in the Unitarian church in Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca and in the Bartók Béla Unitarian parish in Budapest.
István Kovács was born in 1959 in Kőhalom/Rupea. After finishing his studies at the Unitarian Department of the Protestant Theological Institute in Kolozsvár, he served in Marosvásárhely, Sepsiszentkirály and Sepsiszentgyörgy; between 1990 and 1993, he was the first president of the reformed Országos Dávid Ferenc Ifjúsági Egylet, the Hungarian Unitarian youth organization, and from 1998, he was the leader of the National Alliance of the Unitarian Ministers. He also worked as a local government councilor and has worked in the directorates of both the Szekler National Council and the Hungarian Civic Party.
István Kovács was the single candidate for the position of bishop, which had been occupied by Ferenc Bálint Benczédi since 2008. Under his service, the union of the Unitarians from Hungary and Transylvania – who were separated since the Treaty of Trianon – materialized under the name of the Hungarian Unitarian Church.
After the announcement of the results of the election, the outgoing bishop greeted István Kovács, the newly elected leader of the church and the 32nd bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church. The main office-holders of the diocese in Hungary were also reconfirmed at the main council before the synod: János Kriza as commissary and Botond Elekes as the main curator. The Main Council elected new office-holders as well: Two main curators, Dr. Krisztina Sándor and Emőd Farkas; a main clerk, Norbert Zsolt Rácz; and a public affairs director, Lajos Lőrinczi. The members of the Intermediate Disciplinary Court were also elected.
The Unitarian Church was founded by Ferenc Dávid, a Transylvanian reformer who was born around 1520. The 1568 act of the parliament of Transylvania, called the Diet, declared legal protection for the freedom of conscience and religion in a way that was unknown before in the world. This declaration laid the foundation of the only religious denomination established on Hungarian/Transylvanian land: the first Unitarian church in the world. At the same time, the law transformed Transylvania into a home for religious freedom and tolerance.
Featured photo: Bishop István Kovács (courtesy of the Hungarian Unitarian Church)