The joint Annual Conference session for the three countries Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania took place from 11 to 15 May 2022 – for the first time in Albania. At the same time, the first ordination of an Albanian pastor of the UMC was celebrated in the closing service.
After three years, the members of the Annual Conference Serbia-North Macedonia-Albania could finally meet physically again. The joy of the reunion was all the greater. Shortly before the outbreak of the corona pandemic, it had been decided that Albania should be a separate district and also mentioned in the official name of the conference. This year, it finally became possible to meet in Pogradec (Albania) at the beautiful Lake Ohrid for the conference session. The first Albanian pastor, Mustafa Isufi, was ordained in the presence of a large congregation.
Compared to previous years, many things were new and different at this Annual Conference. For the first time, all reports and negotiations were conducted in four languages: Albanian, Macedonian, Serbian and English. This worked very well thanks to good volunteer translators. On the other hand, it was also for the first time that the reports were dealt with in thematic discussion groups. The focus of the exchange was on mutual learning and on plans for joint activities as a whole conference. In previous years, most reports that had been presented, focused on the work in each district during the past year. This year's discussion groups succeeded in bringing to the forefront common concerns and opportunities for the future.
For quite a few members of the conference, it was the first trip to Albania. With beautiful weather, the whole group was able to take an afternoon excursion to a peninsula where there are excavations of a late Roman basilica with mosaics. It reminded them of the early Christianization of this region, even though the communist rule in the last century was proud to have founded the first completely atheist state. All the conference members appreciated having many opportunities for conversation and mutual exchange.
A pastor from Bulgaria, who wants to remain with the UMC, transferred to this conference and will continue his ministry in North Macedonia. He was warmly welcomed and appreciated the open culture of conversation and appreciative interaction.
The next meeting of the Annual Conference will be held in Serbia from March 30 to April 2, 2023.
Source: Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich (Switzerland)
Photo: Mustafa Isufi, first Albanian pastor of the UMC, translated by Erisa Pashollari, employee of the Albanian District Office