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TORRINGTON, CT (SZS) On Friday, November 15, 2019, the Slovak Ambassador to the United Nations hosted a private gala event at his Manhattan residence recognizing the 30th anniversary of the occurrence of the Velvet Revolution.

The Velvet Revolution (sometimes also referred to as the Gentle Revolution) was a non-violent transition of power in what was then Czechoslovakia, occurring from November 17 to December 29, 1989. Popular demonstrations against the one-party rule of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia included students and older dissidents. This month’s gala occasion highlighted the seven demands made by students in Czechoslovakia thirty years ago as they called upon the citizenry to join them in these protests. The demonstrations of that time led to the resignations of top government officials and dissolution of the Communist regime, and culminated in the first democratic elections in Czechoslovakia.

The Slovak Ambassador to the United Nations, His Excellency, the Honorable Michal Mlynar, is a lay member of the Slovak Zion Synod, maintaining his membership at the Slovak Evangelical Congregation of the Augsburg Confession of the Holy Trinity of the City of New York. Both the Rev. Michal Mišina and Bishop Wilma Kucharek were in attendance. The event was marked with prayer, reflections of remembrance, and musical selections on the piano. At the reception which followed, guests enjoyed a wide array of Slovak culinary delights.

Our Synod has always played an important role in facilitating international relations between the Lutheran church in the United States and the Lutheran church in the Slovak Republic. Even before the fall of communism that came as the result of the Velvet Revolution, the Slovak Zion Synod was present to support programs, host church leaders, and sponsor church projects, as well as facilitate our signature program of supporting theological studies. In that capacity, our Synod’s continued existence in the then-newly-formed Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was not only helpful, but was a crucial component in keeping a window open between Eastern Europe and the West. Our Synod’s work behind the Iron Curtain in the decades prior to the fall of communism helped lay the foundation for a developing global mission in the Central and Eastern European region, a mission which further expanded after the Velvet Revolution.

Over the decades, many visits took place that brought friends and members of the Slovak Zion Synod to their homeland of Slovakia and other Central and East European countries. While trips during communism usually took place as part of official exchanges of church dignitaries, those following the Velvet Revolution could now expand into familiarization tours which were open to greater numbers of clergy and laity. These tours visited many of the cultural and historical monuments that Slovakia has to offer, and provided an up-close experience to tour participants of seeing their mission offerings at work in the many projects blossoming in the churches and seminary.

In response to interest for the Synod to host another familiarization tour of Slovakia, we are pleased to announce that a trip is being planned for 2020 after a hiatus of several years. This ten day trip will be held from May 21 to May 30 and will explore the Slovak capital city as well as sites throughout Slovakia; it includes airfare, local transportation, and lodging, and offers optional pre-tour explorations in Prague and/or post-tour explorations in Vienna. If you or others in your congregation are interested in registering, please contact the Synod Office at your earliest convenience, since group size will be limited in order to provide a more personalized and flexible travel experience.

Promotional video below: