On the road with open eyes

The 86th session of the Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church in Czechia took place in Prague from May 24-26, 2024.
Almost 50 pastoral and lay members gathered on the premises of the UMC in Prague 2 for this year's Annual Conference of the UMC in Czechia. Bishop Stefan Zürcher chaired this gathering for the first time.
As all members of the conference had already met for a day beforehand to discuss and approve the accounts and budget, the program concentrated on a few key points: The opening worship service was followed by a first plenary session, in which, among other things, the report of Superintendent Ivana Procházková was received. Superintendent Procházková outlined a remarkable openness for cooperation with people who do not belong to the Church - for example in the various social diaconal centers of the UMC in Czechia and in the very impressive help for people from and in Ukraine.
A completely different topic that Superintendent Procházková mentioned in her report was her work as the first Vice President of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Czechia. Among other things, she led a group there that was dedicated to developing a publication on preventing and dealing with abuse in the church. This brochure is intended to help ensure that eyes are not closed to this important issue, but that injustice can be prevented by raising awareness.
However, the timetable for the withdrawal of the UMC in Czechia from the worldwide United Methodist Church - and therefore also from the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe - was the main topic of discussion. The earliest date for this would be in the fall of 2026, the latest in 2029. The date of the next General Conference gathering will have a decisive influence in this regard. An initial draft of a new Book of Discipline has now been presented, but has not yet been discussed; rather, it is intended to serve as an information document for the congregations and be widely discussed. Whether the path of the UMC in Czechia will lead to autonomy or to another Methodist Church has not yet been conclusively clarified. Rather, various options are being deliberately left open so that appropriate discussions can be held with this openness.
Between the plenary sessions, the clergy members of the Annual Conference met for their closed session. During their session, taking place at the same time, the lay members discussed, among other things, the financial problems of individual local churches. The solutions expressed in committed speeches ranged from the need for a revival in the Church to a reduction in the number of jobs in the central administration and the associated financial strengthening of the individual local churches.
On the second day of proceedings, the to the General Conference, the chairs of the commissions and the representatives of the individual congregations shared their reports, often accompanied by a presentation. This was all handled in a very swift and disciplined manner, and each report was adopted unanimously.
The pastor of the English-speaking UMC in Prague will end her service in the Czech capital as a missionary of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church - in view of the imminent withdrawal of the UMC in Czechia from the worldwide United Methodist Church - and instead take up a new assignment in Düsseldorf (Germany).
The conference concluded on Sunday with a worship service with the commissioning of the pastors and Holy Communion.
Source: Barbara Oppliger, Frümsen (Switzerland) / Urs Schweizer, Assistant to the Bishop
Photo: Commissioning in the closing worship service (fltr: Local Pastor Filip Jandovský, Pastor Jana Křížová, Bishops Stefan Zürcher, Superintendent Ivana Procházková)