Rev. Zsolt Solymosi has shared a most special experience we at the UUCC have made possible for “healthy, hearty
ones” in our partner church in Beszterce. How wonderful to provide them with an uplifting treat, as the bulk of our
donations go for necessities of life. And anyone who has traveled with Zsolt knows what a treat it is! Lee Minghi,
Partner Church Chair

A special Unitarian minivan travelled on a picturesque Transylvanian road-trip in mid-August, carrying members of the Beszterce Unitarian Congregation, your partner church in Romania. Following 2 years of patient protection against the pandemic, we finally had the chance to explore the amazing Western Carpathians, spending a wonderful weekend together. Our first stop was Csegez, the minister’s cottage house, the magic place where he moved two years ago, because of the scenic view and a peaceful bird choir that made him commute every single day to his challenging other vocation: the Unitarian High School in Kolozsvár. No wonder that congregants were so curios about place where he had found his inner peace.

After having learnt about the traditional conservation work that goes with the preservation of this ancient village house built in 1670, and also having a refreshing picnic in the meantime, we headed to our base camp, a villa at the entrance to the mountain area. Remember, if you are on a Transylvanian road-trip, then food, food and food is a never-ending part of the program. So, we finished the day with a special barbecue treat, getting ready for a spontaneous cinema evening: watching a documentary entitled “Rosia Montana, a town at the brink”, coincidentally, the village of our next day focus. The preparation of the story was essential,because this village, whose origins date back to Roman times, is at the center of a controversial mining project, so far being successfully thwarted by civil movements. Fortunately, or rather, unfortunately, Rosia Montana possesses one of the largest gold and silver reserves in Europe (300 tons of gold and 800 tons of silver). While this precious metal used to be mined in the last
2000 years by traditional methods, a Canadian-based company decided to extract all this reserve in just 17 years, using cyanide-based technology. It is not very hard to imagine that after the extraction of the precious ore, they will leave up to 250 million tons of cyanide-laced tailings, stored in a 900-acre pond at the heart of a beautiful, untouched valley. In case the 600-foot dam were to
collapse, we could say goodbye to the green Transylvania as we know it. The Unitarian Church in Romania has been fighting against the project, supporting the small and powerless local community. The Beszterce group visited this village, the local Unitarian church, as well as the beautiful sites around, hoping that the place would survive for the next generations to come.

On our last day of the trip, we visited to the newly restored, 700-year-old Unitarian church in Bágyon (partnered with West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Cleveland, Ohio), participating in its Sunday service. But that was not to be the end of our journey!
We were lucky enough for our return trip to Beszterce to take us through the city of Kolozsvár (the birthplace of Unitarianism), and we had the chance to be part of the closing ceremony of the Hungarian Days of Kolozsvár, where, among 20,000 people in
the audience, we enjoyed the operetta concert of the worldfamous Budapest Operetta & Musical Theatre. There was a prognosis of 90% chances of thunderstorm, but as soon as the concert started, the rain stopped, leaving us surrounded only by the joy of music.

What a weekend it was! Our only regret was that you, dear members of the UUCC were not with us, singing song after song in the van and sharing a cup of the traditional “pálinka” (a very strong, homemade plum brandy). However, we are grateful that in part, it was your donation that made this trip possible, and our unique experiences along the way have left us with a hope and eagerness for the coming years: that you will visit us soon!

With much love, Rev. Zsolt Solymosi and members of the Beszterce Unitarian Congregation