The 90th Annual Conference in Poland, which took place from June 3 to 5 in Warsaw under the theme «Remembering and Dreaming», was characterized by the remembrance of the past and by an outlook into the future.
The dreams, however, were more difficult to put into words or images than the presentation of the past. The meditation on Saturday morning, which focused on «Dreaming», referred to Martin Luther King’s dream of overcoming the racial segregation. On Saturday evening there was a celebration with ecumenical guests.
The outlook into the future particularly found expression in discussions on the financial situation. The Church Council presented suggestions how the local churches could encourage their members to increase the local giving through offerings and donations. At present there are considerable regional differences in this regard. The English Language Schools are of decreasing financial significance for the church since there has been a continuous decline in the number of students. On the other hand, the members of the Annual Conference expressed their thankfulness for the ongoing, faithful support from the UMC in Switzerland, particularly for the pastors’ salaries.
The Annual Conference was informed about the creation of a special working group with members from Poland and from other countries of the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe. This working group has been commissioned to prepare proposals whether and how an Internal Law for the UMC in Poland can be developed, which is compatible with the Book of Discipline. The Annual Conference will deal with these proposals at its next meeting from June 1 to 3, 2012.
One ordained elder had to leave his ministerial office. In the closing worship on Sunday another pastor was ordained elder. Last year a woman presented herself as candidate for ordained ministry. She will now advance to a second probationary year. Because of her pregnancy, there were a number of questions how she will be able to serve as probationary pastor besides the duties of being a mother. The photos of the first female pastor of the UMC in Poland (ordained elder in 1972) were included in the anniversary publication. In reality, however, there are still many people in the church having difficulties to accept the ministry of women – particularly when it comes to religious ceremonies such as baptism, Lord’s Supper, wedding or funeral.
At the suggestion of one of the superintendents, General Superintendent Edward Puslecki was elected clergy delegate to General Conference 2012 (reserve delegate: Andrzej Malicki). Olgierd Benedyktowicz was elected lay delegate (reserve delegate: Agatha Kulanowska). The elections for Central Conference 2013 will take place next year.
Source: Office of Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich/Switzerland
Date: June 6, 2011