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The Gospel Transforms Us for All of Our Lives

The professions of a minister, of a teacher and of a teacher of religion mean a commitment to intellectual excellence and to a responsible life. The 480th academic year has begun at the Debrecen Reformed Theological University.

The Debrecen Reformed Theological University has opened its 480th academic year. The title of honorary doctorate was conferred to Jooseop Keum, minister of the Presbyterian Church in Korea, former director for mission of the World Council of Churches, a professor in Seoul, who is an outstanding personality of the contemporary ecumenical movement. 

A worship service was held at the celebration, where Károly Fekete preached the Word of God. The bishop of the Transtibiscan Reformed Church District emphasized that „God is not an inaccessible Lord of distant worlds but He is the God who is always near us, who comes close to us, humans. The whole Old Testament speaks about this: God is approaching us inevitably. It is not possible to avoid Him. It is not possible to deny His promises; it is not possible to pretend as if His wonders did not happen.”  Károly Fekete also told that „to enter into intellectual communion with the Word, and to enter into the communion on the way with Christ mean life. As the Word reaches its goal it brings radical change: ’As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth.’ This is what we need! The gospel that gives life, that makes us bring fruit, that satisfies us. This gospel does not only give meaning for the academic year but it transforms us to be Christ’s disciples” – concluded the bishop.      

„You have chosen an excellent university.”  Zoltán Kustár addressed the first-year students with these words. The rector of the university stressed that „the centuries-old traditions walk hand in hand with the most up-to-date study materials and scientific insights. The overseeable size of our programs creates family-like and close communities, offers outstanding opportunities for supporting talents, for scholarships. I encourage you to use these opportunities because the professions of a minister, of a teacher and of a teacher of religion mean a commitment to intellectual excellence and to a responsible life.” Zoltán Kustár called the attention of the students to these thoughts and then he added: „ ’Faith, community, knowledge’ – this threefold motto of our university shows what we offer to you here, but it also shows how you can strengthen our university. Be proud that you may be students of the Debrecen Reformed College, following the footsteps of such alumni as Csokonai, János Arany or Ady, and live and study so that our university may be proud of you one day.”  The rector of the university concluded his address with these words.

More than 120 new students begin the academic year at the theological university. 76 new students start the program of education in order to learn how to teach children in the lower classes of the primary school. 48 students are admitted to the faith-based programs. The most popular of these were the program of teacher of religion and the program of teacher of religion – educator.  

Jooseop Keum, minister of the Presbyterian Church in Korea was awarded with the title of „honorary doctor” by the leadership of the university at this festive event.  The Reformed Church in Hungary, our Church District and our University have intensive cooperation with the South-Korean reformed churches which are one of the most vivid Christian communities in East Asia. Our University has been the vanguard of the Hungarian-Korean theological dialogue for several decades.    Jooseop Keum is an outstanding contemporary Korean Reformed theologian who, through is ministry in the ecumenical movement, has been influential in shaping the Reformed and ecumenical theological thinking of our time.    

There has been an intensive co-operation between the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS) in Seoul and the Debrecen Reformed Theological University for several years. This co-operation is further strengthened by a student exchange program, starting from this academic year. The leadership of the university expresses its appreciation, among others, for the work Jooseop Keum has done for the co-operation of Christian churches.    

Keum has started his professional career as a general secretary of the National Youth Association of the Presbyterian Church of Korea (1993-1995), then he became the ecumenical officer of the Presbyterian Church of Korea (1996-1997). From 1997 to 2007 he was executive secretary for the mission program of the Council for World Mission (CWM) based in London, UK. Since 2007 he served as a program executive and since 2010 as a director of mission and evangelism of the World Council of Churches. Currently he is a Distinguished Professor for World Christianity at the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary in Seoul. 

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