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Hungarian Reformed Church of Johnstown-Windber [Pennsylvania] Elects the Rev. Albert W. Kovacs New Minister

Monday, February 15, 2010, 1:01
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The Hungarian Reformed Church of Johnstown-Windber [Pennsylvania] elected the Rev. Albert W. Kovacs as their new minister on 31 January 2010.

The Johnstown-Windber Congregation

Fifty-five years ago in Trinity Reformed Church in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, the Rev. Kovacs was ordained by the Pittsburgh Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church. He recently
served for eighteen years at the Hungarian Reformed Church of Woodbridge, New Jersey, which honored him with election as Pastor Emeritus. He is a graduate of Elmhurst College (Illinois) and Lancaster Theological Seminary (Pennsylvania). He was President of Pennsylvanians for Human Life and also of Pro-life Protestants of Pennsylvania. Rev. Kovacs and his wife Theresa have been married fifty-five years and are the parents of three children and grandparents of four young ladies.

The Johnstown-Windber Congregation is a result of the merging of the Windber and Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Congregations after the Windber church was lost in a fire some years ago.

The Johnstown-Windber Congregation is observing its 110th Anniversary in 2010, and remembering the nearly five generations of families that have worshiped there.

Many of the founding church members were coal miners who immigrated from Eastern Hungary. These coal miners worked under very dangerous conditions in the Pennsylvania coal mines, extracting coal to fire the furnaces that made the steel – that in turn went into building the infrastructure of this country at the turn of the 20th Century.

Mining disasters in those early days were an everyday occurrence.

(Still considered to be the worst coal mining disaster in US history is the Darr Mine Explosion of 19 December 1907, which killed at least 239 coal miners in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, the majority of the dead being Hungarian men. The mine explosion and subsequent cave in left 136 widows and 273 children without husbands and fathers. During the month of December 1907 alone, over 3,000 miners died in US mining accidents – the worst month in US mining history to this date.)

These were the days before Social Security, disability payments and so on. Many of the miners and their families lived in coal company towns, in coal company houses. More often than not they were paid with coal company scrip (not money) so they shopped in coal company stores, which were the only places that accepted the scrip. So if a worker was injured on the job or killed in a coal mine explosion, his wife and children would be in the street before the dust settled, many times without more than the clothes on their backs.

It was very very difficult work – and what really touches me about the historic Hungarian Reformed Churches like Johnstown-Windber, is that the coal miners and their families usually collected money and bought land and built churches even before they had earned enough to buy their own homes. These early folks began their churches under very difficult circumstances yet they have remained true to their Reformed faith. They have passed on this tenacity to the people who have come after them, who have kept the churches going generation after generation for the good of God. To me it’s very humbling and inspirational all at the same time.

So – my hat is off to the Johnstown-Windber Congregation for keeping the faith going for almost 110 years. For that Congregation, I know that their Reformed faith and church-community means a lot to them and also to the Rev. Kovacs who serves them.

My hope is that God continues to bless all of their lives as they work together in His name and for His good.

From left to right: The Rt. Rev. K.K. Ludwig, Bishop, Calvin Synod; Mr. Nicholas Kovach, Chief Elder, The Hungarian Reformed Church of Johnstown-Windber, Pennsylvania; the Rev. Imre Bertalan, Dean, Eastern Classis of the Calvin Synod; and Rev. Albert W. Kovacs, newly elected Pastor of The Hungarian Reformed Church of Johnstown-Windber, Pennsylvania.

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Ms. Tunde Garai, Editorial Assistant, Calvin Synod Herald – Amerikai Magyar Reformátusok Lapja

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