In a worship service on November 20, 2022, in Basel Cathedral, Rev. Stefan Zürcher (55) was consecrated as the new bishop for the UMC in Central and Southern Europe. He will succeed Bishop Patrick Streiff.
About 350 United Methodists, together with guests from the ecumenical community, came to Basel Cathedral on the afternoon of November 20, 2022. Together, they celebrated a worship service in which the Methodist pastor Stefan Zürcher was consecrated as the new bishop for the 13 countries of the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe. About 200 people also followed the celebration via livestream.
Several bishops from the worldwide UMC also participated in the service, some of them in an active role. The service was led by Bishop Patrick Streiff. Retired Bishop Rosemarie Wenner (Germany), Bishop Guy Muyombo Mande (DR Congo), and Bishop David Bard (USA) provided parts of the liturgy. Bishop Harald Rückert (Germany) preached. Bishops Christian Alsted (Northern Europe and Baltics) and Bishop Eduard Khegay (Eurasia) also participated as guests.
The service was musically arranged by Andreas Liebig (organ), Oliver Koerper (trumpet), Gudrun Sidonie Otto (soprano) and a project choir of the UMC congregations of the Basel region under the direction of Sylvia Wilhelm.
In his sermon on John 20:19-23, Bishop Harald Rückert used the example of Jesus' disciples, who were fearfully isolated after Jesus' death, to show how "anxious and closed" people become "awakened" people who are alert, courageous and turned toward society. This happens through the encounter with the Risen One.
One "fruit" of the Spirit that Jesus gives is "courage, awakened courage". This is the effect of the Holy Spirit that Methodists desperately need, Rückert said, as they now set out again from the conference "to pray, speak and act as followers of the vibrant Jesus Christ in our daily lives in our communities."
Turning to the newly elected Bishop Stefan Zürcher, he said, "You, too, need courage." He said he needed it to get elected to this office. And he will also need "a good portion of courage" to exercise the office.
Stefan Zürcher was then consecrated, after which Bishop Guy Muyombo Mande welcomed Bishop Stefan Zürcher as a new member of the Council of Bishops of the worldwide UMC.
The following reception provided an opportunity to personally congratulate the newly elected bishop and to engage in a brief exchange with Methodists from the bishop's area.
Author: Sigmar Friedrich, Zurich
Photo:: Bishops Rosemarie Wenner, David Bard, Patrick Streiff and Guy Muyombo Mande (from left) consecrate Stefan Zürcher (front) as bishop. (Photo: Sigmar Friedrich)
For further photos: https://emk-schweiz.ch/bilder/#W22