Rev. Előd Szabó
The purpose of the Balázs Scholars Program is to invite and support a Transylvanian or other international Unitarian minister for an academic year of study at Starr King School for the Ministry to enhance their training and religious leadership. Nearly every year since 1994, with the exception of the last three years due to COVID-19, the Balázs Scholars Program has brought a Unitarian Transylvanian minister to study at Starr King.
The purpose of the Balázs Scholars Program is to invite and support a Transylvanian or other international Unitarian minister for an academic year of study at Starr King School for the Ministry to enhance ministerial skills and religious leadership and to both broaden and deepen the minister’s calling to serve in a changing and global world. The Balázs Scholars Program has brought a Transylvanian Unitarian Minister to study at Starr King School for the Ministry almost every year since 1994, with the exception of the last three academic years due to COVID-19.
Balázs Scholars’ participation in Starr King classes, chapel services, and informal conversations enriches the life of the school. Through preaching and lectures, these scholars share their wisdom, deep faith, and commitment throughout the Unitarian Universalist movement in the United States.
At Starr King they study theology, ethics, counseling, preaching, practical ministry, methods to counter oppressions, and non-profit organizational skills to enhance their parish ministry, as well as in their work in the community and the larger church.
The Balázs Program is immensely successful, providing meaningful educational experience for Transylvanian and other international Unitarian ministers, making lasting connections with UU ministers and congregations in the US, educating US congregations about Unitarianism in their homeland, and Starr King Students about the reality of living as an oppressed minority. Balázs Scholars add vitality and breadth to Starr King classes, as well as help strengthen Partner Church programs.
The Program is named for Francis Balázs, a young Transylvanian Unitarian minister who graduated from seminary in Kolozsvár, then studied in the late 1920s at Oxford and at what is now called Starr King School for the Ministry, before returning to Transylvania. After traveling the world learning about peace, he became minister in Meszko, the “Alabaster Village,” where he wrote, mentored seminary students, ministered to the residents, brought health programs and economic development to the impoverished local valley, and, with his wife Christine, restored the historic Unitarian church.
Watch a video documentary – “The History and Modernization of the Unitarians in Transylvania”
Today, Balázs Scholars are committed to not only improving the lives of their fellow congregants but also to sharing with North American Unitarian Universalists the breadth and depth of their passion and caring for their homeland and for our common faith tradition.
Starr King School provides fundraising and administrative assistance as well as waiving tuition for the Balázs Scholar. The volunteer Balázs Scholars Program Coordinating Committee provides hospitality and support for the scholar and family, and schedules preaching engagements and transportation. The Committee is made up of representatives from the school, the Starr King community, the host churches, and a liaison to the Partner Church Council. The host church for the scholar rotates between the Unitarian Universalist churches in San Francisco, Oakland, Walnut Creek, and Berkeley (Kensington).
The Balázs Scholars Program is funded by donations from individuals, congregations and the Partner Church Council, and from honoraria, donations, and Sunday service collections from the churches where the Balázs Scholar preaches. It costs about $60,000 a year to support the Balázs Scholar and family.
We appreciate your help to sustain this important program. Donations can be made via the form below. Checks for donations should be made out to Starr King School for the Ministry, with Balázs on the notation line, and mailed to 414 13th Street, Suite 700, Oakland, CA 94612.