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.
Ana Palik-Kunčak was not only born in Kisač, a village of 5’000 inhabitants. She has also been living there during decades of her ministry as pastor of the UMC in Serbia. She always invested much time and strength into the personal relationships with school mates, neighbors, friends, relatives – but also in a broadminded and trustful cooperation with many individuals and with public organizations.
She experienced great, peaceful and blessed days – but there were also times of unrest, helplessness and hopelessness. Particularly the last decade of the 20thcentury included various experiences, which still have an impact on the present. The breakdown of the state, war, humanitarian needs and a worrying economic development were a challenge for the UMC, as well. It was important to recognize the needs of the present – and to offer helpful responses.
Ana Palik-Kunčak describes it as grace – but also as Methodist connection in action – that in 2001, a new church could be built in Kisač: not just a new building but rather an instrument to make use of while being a church with open doors and open hearts – with people and for people.
Each year in October, the municipality of Kisač awards a prize for a specific service in an area that is meaningful for the whole communal life. It was a surprise and a special honor for Ana Palik-Kunčak that she was among the three people that were awarded the «October Prize 2018» – in her case for the «longstanding sacrificing service in the church-related, humanitarian and social field» of the municipality. A special surprise was the fact that she had been nominated for this prize by two organizations of young people, which are not directly related to the UMC.
Ana Palik-Kunčak had already been awarded with the honorary membership of the «Slovak Mothers» in August 2018, given her longstanding commitment for the Slovak minority in Serbia. In her eyes, to be honored again was also a confirmation of her conviction that even a small church can have a positive impact on society: «If we are faithfully serving our church, this also becomes visible beyond our local churches. I hope that my service has also been a witness helping the world to recognize Christ».
Source: UMC in Serbia / Office of Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich/Switzerland