Good luck, Rev. Gábor Magyari-Köpe!

I was surprised to learn that after 15 years of service Rev. Gábor Magyari-Köpe has left the Free Magyar Reformed Church of San Francisco and Vicinity. I don’t know the reason for his departure but want to wish him good luck.

Magyari-Köpe at the pulpit

Magyari-Köpe grew up in an ethnic Hungarian family in Brasov (Brassó in Hungarian), Romania. According to his bio, he comes from a family of line of pastors. After graduating from the Protestant Theological Institute in Cluj-Napoca in 1998, he first served as Pastor at the Hungarian Protestant Community of Sweden.

In October of 2003 Magyari-Köpe was elected as Pastor of the Free Magyar Reformed Church of San Francisco and Vicinity. His wife Blanka is a scientist and they have two kids.

I know Magyari-Köpe and had casual conversations with him over the years. He was always courteous and helpful and I hope he finds fulfillment in his next assignment.

Many Hungarian Reformed pastors in North-America are from Transylvania and do an admirable job. These congregations are generally small and the congregants are often elderly; the churches are financially strapped. Lately church leadership turns to Budapest for help.

The Orbán Government has responded and started to help these congregations – financially or otherwise. In exchange Hungarian government officials and diplomats frequently use Hungarian Reformed Churches in North-America as a pulpit to preach Orbanism, a mixture of high-powered Hungarian nationalism, Islamophobia, anti-migrant sentiments with a hint of anti-Semitism.

Last year the Free Magyar Reformed Church of San Francisco and Vicinity hosted President János Áder. An impromptu meeting was held where Áder met “the leaders” of the local Hungarian community. A photo op for Áder to preach his view of the world to local devotees. BTW, Áder has never been officially invited to the US. He uses private visits to Hungarian communities to show the folks back home that he is respected and eagerly awaited politician in America. Church leaders also let András Doncsev, one-time Orbán speechwriter and current Hungarian consul in San Francisco, to speak.

János Áder (right) with his wife visited Magyari-Köpe (in the middle) in California in 2018.

In the United States church and state are separated by law. Churches enjoy tax advantages and cannot be used as a pulpit for political propaganda. I wonder if leaders of North-America’s Hungarian Reformed Churches know that.

On the lighter note. Doncsev also organized a musical group with his wife, singer Éva Gergely. It is called Silentium Valley Band. Doncsev plays the keyboard and his wife sings at the Church. (The band’s website.)

Consul András Doncsev spoke at the church

Preaching Orbanism during the day and play some light tunes at night – maybe a new role for the Hungarian diplomat. As Doncsev wrote: “We will be enlightened: we will get into the spotlight on April 6 at 7PM at the Free Magyar Reformed Church! We are looking forward to seeing you there!”


György Lázár

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