The Methodist work in Vojvodina (the northern part of what is now Serbia) was started 120 years ago. German missionaries established local churches among German emigrants – and this was the reason why the churches were exclusively German-speaking until 1904. In the following years, the work grew, and thriving new churches were born among other population groups, as well. But there were not only joy and growth, the church experienced persecution, suffering, isolation and setbacks, as well – mostly because of political reasons. Today a varied children’s and youth ministry, Christian outreach programs, local and regional activities for women and men, as well as practical help for people in need are some of the priorities of the local churches, which combine both the proclamation of the Gospel and love in action. In a country still falling on hard times while looking for a future, they aim to help people to discover God’s love – beyond any border of ethnicity. The fact that a new generation has accepted the calling into the ministry of the church and is taking the lead regarding this aim is an important sign and a source of hope.Despite political separation of their countries, the local churches in Serbia and North Macedonia still belong to the same Annual Conference.
Population: 7.5 millions
Area: 77,474 km2
Religion: Orthodox (85%), Roman-Catholic (5%)
UMC Churches: 14
Professing members: 416
Active Clergy: 11
Her path led her from the Christ Church in Vrbas (Serbia) to the Peace Church in Konstanz (Germany). She could have often despaired in the face of circumstances, but instead, even in times of great need, she trusted that God would always be near her and never leave her. On November 29, 2020, she passed away in her 99th year: Maria Schwertfeger.
In a beautiful coastal area, in Spille (Albania), the second United Methodist Regional Youth Camp took place – with about 30 young people present from the three neighboring countries Albania, North Macedonia, and Serbia. Four years ago, a similar camp had taken place on the North Macedonian side of Lake Ohrid.
From April 11 to 14, 2019, the 85th session of Serbia-Macedonia Provisional Annual Conference took place at Skopje UMC (Macedonia). The theme had been chosen from Psalm 34:14: “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
In all countries of Central and Southern Europe, The United Methodist Church is a minority church. However, an example from Serbia underlines once again that this does not mean that the UMC would not have any positive impact on society or that it would go completely unnoticed.