In 1568, on January the 13th, the Diet of Torda (Transylvania) proclaimed:
“His majesty, our Lord, in what manner he—together with his realm—legislated in the matter of religion at the previous Diets, in the same matter now, in this Diet, reaffirms that in every place the preachers shall preach and explain the Gospel each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, well. If not, no one shall compel them for their souls would not be satisfied, but they shall be permitted to keep a preacher whose teaching they approve. Therefore none of the superintendents or others shall abuse the preachers, no one shall be reviled for his religion by anyone, according to the previous statutes, and it is not permitted that anyone should threaten anyone else by imprisonment or by removal from his post for his teaching. For faith is the gift of God and this comes from hearing, which hearing is by the word of God.”
... in every place the preachers shall preach and explain the Gospel each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, well. If not, no one shall compel them for their souls would not be satisfied, but they shall be permitted to keep a preacher whose teaching they approve.
This proclamation was the first of its kind in history; the right for individuals to believe and worship according to their own understanding; for clergy to preach and teach the Gospel as they too, understood it. This moment marked the beginning of what we Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists understand to be a foundational right of our human existence: to believe as we wish, to worship accordingly and to practice our faith as we determine right and proper. The Edict of Torda is one of the cornerstones of our modern understanding of religious practice and belief.
The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council invite and encourage you and your faith communities to celebrate the 449th anniversary of the Edict’s adoption around the 13th of January. Let us join together as a global family of faith to remind ourselves of those who came before us, often laying down their lives ensuring our right to worship and believe as we determine true and right. And let us be in solidarity with those who continue to labor for their right to openly and safely practice their faith as they choose.
To help you mark the 449th anniversary, we are providing a chalice lighting offered to us all by the Hungarian Unitarian Church, a couple of prayers, a reading and words of benediction. We invite you to use any or all these as part of your worship services near to 13th of January to join with Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists around the world celebrating our history, our heritage and the hope of our future. And mark your calendars for the 450th anniversary in 2018.
We light this chalice in remembrance of those who laid down the foundation of our communities in the spirit of freedom, love and tolerance, to remember that true light will outshine darkness:
“Faith is the gift of God. The true signs of faith are an inner purity and love and an honest life and good deeds. Love is the ultimate interpretation and completion of the law. According to Jesus love is the plenitude of the law. Love is a royal commandment. Love is the true freedom, which does not bear the bondage of fear. Love is the creative spirit of the world, the highest treasure of humankind.”
- Francis David
Founder of the Hungarian Unitarian Church, XVIth Century