From April 13-16, 2023, this year's session of the Annual Conference Hungary took place in Szeged (Hungary) and Comsesti (Romania) together with delegates from The United Methodist Church in Romania.
The Annual Conference Hungary decided to welcome as voting members the delegates of The United Methodist Church (UMC) in Romania, who participated for the first time in the annual meeting of the UMC in Hungary. At the same time, a process was initiated with the aim of preparing, together with the leaders from Romania, a proposal by the Annual Conference meeting 2024 on how the two districts will work together in the future. The UMC, which is small and young in Romania, works in four locations with three pastors. Due to the departure of the UMC in Bulgaria from The United Methodist Church last year, it had become necessary to connect the church in Romania, which wants to remain with the UMC, with another annual conference. Incidentally, there have been connections between these two regions since the early 20th century through Methodist missionaries.
In his report, Romanian Superintendent Rares Calugar expressed the great joy of the Romanian delegation to be able to participate in the Hungary Annual Conference meeting. The UMC is officially recognized in Romania as an NGO - on the one hand with social-diaconal and on the other hand with evangelistic and discipleship-oriented branches of work. Among other ministries, orphans (also Ukrainian), teenagers and young people, cancer patients, but also refugees from Ukraine are cared for and accompanied by men and women of the church. In addition, the UMC runs a hotel with church rooms as a community center. The church maintains close ecumenical relations with the Greek Catholic Church, the Hungarian-speaking Reformed Church, the German-speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church and also with the "Lords Army", a renewal movement within the Romanian Orthodox Church. This year, in Comsesti, a Roma village, their first church building will be completed.
In the report of the Hungarian superintendent, László Khaled invited to listen to Jesus - to the incarnate Word of God and the truth - in our challenging times, which cause much uncertainty. From Jesus comes life and renewal, also for the Church. The UMC in Hungary is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. In his brief review, Khaled mentioned times of crisis, triggered by political developments or internal problems, but also times of renewal and new beginnings. A very encouraging development that started ten years ago is the management of two schools with over 1000 students. This gives the opportunity to the Church, to consciously set spiritual and missionary accents as a Church, based on the foundation of the Gospel.
The report of the Mission Commission also gave a deeper insight into the work of the UMC in Hungary. This commission includes various areas of work: the work with children, youth and young adults, the work of women and among the Roma, but also communication and media/publication work as well as the area of church partnerships. A highlight last year was the Family Camp with around 250 participants. Online participation was also possible. In addition, camps and retreats were held by various groups. In the partial reports, those responsible expressed their thanks at various points for the support of the Bishop's Office, Connexio, Advance and the international partner churches, which help to make many things possible.
On a festive evening on Friday, combined with many anecdotes and good wishes, Pastor István Szuhánszky on the one hand and Bishop Patrick Streiff on the other hand were celebrated on the occasion of their retirement. Stefan Zürcher was warmly welcomed as the new bishop. Of course, the table fellowship and the culinary delights were not neglected!
Another highlight of the meeting was the conclusion in Romania with three premieres: the first Sunday morning service in the new church in Comsesti, the first Methodist ordination celebration in Romania and the first ordination by the new bishop. Samuel Goia was ordained as the third United Methodist pastor in Romania. For this, a delegation from Hungary traveled to Comșești to express through their co-celebration - and also their song contribution - their will and joy to begin a common journey. It was a joyful celebration in this Roma community. The fact that it was "their" pastor who was ordained naturally added to the joy of celebration.
Source: Bishop Stefan Zürcher, Zurich