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Trust that proves itself in action

From June 27 to 30, 2024, the 103rd Session of the Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church in Poland took place in Ostroda.
 
"Lord, teach me to believe!" - this was the motto of the Polish Annual Conference 2024, to which the members and guests were invited to Ostroda in the beautiful Masuria. The leading superintendent Andrzej Malicki wrote in his report on this motto: "Faith is more than a purely rational recognition that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died to cleanse us from our sins. True faith is a trust that proves itself in action." Based on this trust, The United Methodist Church (UMC) in Poland also actively worked for the good of others and for the invitation to faith in a variety of ways during the past conference year, for example during the Days of Renewal, in which several hundred people once again took part. - This event will be held again next August, with Adam Hamilton, pastor of one of the largest UMC congregations in the USA, as keynote speaker. Camps for children and young people as well as retreats and meetings for women and men are also offered every year to get to know the path of discipleship and to practice taking steps towards it.
 
With a good 40 congregations and several other places of preaching, 2,200 church members and 23 active pastors, the UMC in Poland is the second largest part of the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe (after the Annual Conference Switzerland-France-North Africa). However, the fact that one pastor retired on the final Sunday, but no one was ordained or newly appointed to pastoral ministry, shows that the UMC in Poland is also suffering from a shortage of young people and staff.
 
The church is very active in ecumenism. The Polish Ecumenical Council, which unites seven Churches that are not Roman Catholic but are recognized by the state, is currently chaired by the leading Methodist superintendent Andrzej Malicki. A highlight for him in the past conference year was his participation in the New Year's meeting at the presidential palace and the installation of the new government.
 
One major challenge that has repeatedly led to lengthy discussions is the finances and maintenance of the properties, some of which are large churches that were handed over to the UMC by the Lutheran Church after the Second World War, such as the very impressive neo-Gothic-style building in Ostroda with seating for 1,500 people! Changing financial conditions and government regulations are leading to increasingly difficult circumstances in terms of salary payments and building maintenance. The church council and the congregations are also required to find new sources of funding. The gratitude for the support from Connexio and the Fund for Mission in Europe was palpable.
 
The decisions of General Conference held in spring 2024 also led to a controversial but respectful discussion. State legislation does not permit same-sex marriages in Poland. However, even though our Church is committed to the traditional understanding of marriage, nuances and differences could be heard in the speeches and comments. The will to remain part of the worldwide United Methodist Church in the future is undisputed. One expression of this was the unanimous acceptance of the two delegates' reports to General Conference.
 
The Annual Conference was concluded on Sunday with a colorful service, which was also held under the motto of this year's conference. Bishop Stefan Zürcher, referring to Abraham, said: "Faith is alive where it is in motion, and endangered where it stands still and settles. You cannot believe sitting down. You believe with your feet, or you don't believe." The Church, including our Church, is challenged like Abraham to set out for a new land. This departure is linked to the promise to be a blessing for others.
 
Source: Bishop Stefan Zürcher, Zurich
Photo: Concert during AC 2024 at Ostroda UMC