High school students visited the Protestant Theological Institute

PTI launched its institutional revitalisation programme in 2021. The Open Day, part of this programme held on 17 February 2023, was attended by 44 high school students (39 Reformed and 5 Unitarian) from Arad to Cristuru Secuiesc, from Satu Mare to Turda and Târgu Mureș.

The Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj-Napoca launched its institutional revitalisation programme in 2021. This programme also includes a promotional travelling caravan, in which a staff member accompanied by students visits various high schools throughout the country to present the educational offer and student life at the institution. Now an open day was held at the Institute. The event was advertised on the website, newsletters and social media and attracted 44 secondary school students (39 Reformed and 5 Unitarian) from Arad to Cristuru Secuiesc, from Satu Mare to Turda and Târgu Mureș. The aim of the event was to present in an interactive way the university training of to become ministers at Cluj, in the hope that it will strengthen young people who feel called to serve God and offer a possible path for young believers who are facing a career choice.

In a way, the event was supposed to experience a day of a theological student. The programme thus began with a devotion by Imre Huba Bokor, a third-year student. Afterwards, the rector, Sándor Kovács, welcomed the guests, stressing that for him the Institute is the most elegant institution in Cluj-Napoca, with a tradition and a history of pastoral training dating back to the 16th century. Vice-rector Csaba Balogh brought four reflections to the students. One of them was that for him theology is a location and a space for intellectual development, just as science has been intertwined with religion from the very beginning: in Egypt priests were doctors, and in Mesopotamia astronomers. Jesus had a bold thought, and dreamt of the salvation of mankind. Since then, no dream has been unrealisable. Imbued with a sense of belonging, this Institute helps to realise and demonstrate that dream.

Then Ferencz Szabolcs Kató, lecturer of the Department for the Old Testament, in charge of the program, presented the theological curriculum in outline. He first dealt with some areas of pastoral work. He stressed that a pastor is a community minister and can help dealing with problems of all age groups. In addition, a minister also contributes to creating opportunities for fellowship with God and with each other. The presentation then focused on how 6 years of training prepares the candidate for ministry. After a brief introduction to the four major theological specialisations (biblical theology, church history, systematic theology, practical theology), a brief outline of the admission process and requirements was given.

The next item on the agenda was the so-called trial lesson. In ca. 25 minutes each, Ferenc Szabolcs Kató and Sándor Előd Ősz (lecturer in Church History) introduced the interested students to the world of the Bible and church history. Through an example, Ferenc Szabolcs Kató illustrated how the knowledge of the Old Testament laws provides the theologian reading the New Testament in its original language with additional information, and how Jewish burial customs are implied in formulas such as "he was gathered to his people", as well as how they shed light on the significance of some details surrounding the burial of Jesus. Sándor Előd Ősz explored the life of the eminent churchman, Albert Szenczi Molnár. He then gave an insight into his own research, telling the story of how he is trying to find the lost collection of Szenczi's Reformed correspondence, with twists and turns that are worthy of a detective novel. Although not yet found, the colligate's journey can be traced through several stations.

The students then gave a tour of the Institute to the Open Day participants. From the residence rooms to the classrooms and the library, our guests had the opportunity to visit the library. As a last point, the students talked about student life and events at the Institute. Half a dozen gave personal accounts of the various missionary activities and services they are involved with. The event ended with a communal lunch. During the break between the events, the Institute and the students served sandwiches, coffee, tea and other refreshments to the guests.

We would like to thank all the students involved in the organisation and the (school) ministers who organised the trip for their students and congregation members. We hope that this event also helped young people towards making a decision regarding the classic question: "what will you be when you grow up".

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