A historic Annual Conference in Poland

The 89th session of the Annual Conference in Poland, which took place from June 18 to 20, 2010, in Katowice, made history: In addition to Bishop Patrick Streiff, who is supervising the Central and Southern Europe Central Conference, Bishop Rosemarie Wenner from the Germany Central Conference was invited as a special guest. This meant that not only two Bishops were present, but that – for the first time – a woman Bishop participated in the Annual Conference in Poland. It was a new experience for both the Methodists in Poland and the ecumenical guests participating in the anniversary celebration of the host congregation.

The Annual Conference had to deal with a woman’s application for ordained ministry. Last year there had been a deadlock in the closed clergy session, and it had been left to the woman to decide whether or not to reapply this year. In the meantime Monika Zuber had become a mother and had reapplied. Her husband was recommended for ordination as deacon at this year’s conference (it is still a two-step ordination process), but there were many questions in regard to her application: How can they be in ministry as a clergy couple? What are the implications for the appointment system if there is a clergy couple? The open and honest conversation finally resulted in a recommendation in favor of her application. This means that, for the first time since the early seventies, a woman in Poland is on the path to ordained ministry in the UMC.

In the worship service on Sunday two deacons (again, in the pattern of two-step ordination) and one elder were ordained. One ordained elder resigned from his service; he was not willing to accept a new appointment due to his family situation.

In each of the last years the UMC in Poland has been reporting a steady or slightly increasing membership. New people quite often join a local church after a radio or TV broadcast of a worship service. During the Annual Conference the worship service on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of Katowice UMC was recorded for a radio broadcast, and the ordination service will be telecast later.

The Annual Conference of the UMC in Poland has had special legal charter for more than 60 years. There are similarities between this charter and the Book of Discipline of the General Conference and the Central Conference, but there are also differences. It was resolved to enter into discussions with a delegation of the Central Conference in order to find a solution by mutual agreement.

Source: Office of Bishop Dr. Patrick Streiff
Date: June 22, 2010