To ground heaven – Annual Conference in Austria

The members of Austria Provisional Annual Conference met from May 17 to 20, 2012, in Linz under the motto «To ground heaven – our diaconal task».

The relevance of this motto was particularly shown one day prior to the beginning of Annual Conference when the new hospital for child and youth psychiatry of the United Methodist Diaconal Center Spattstrasse was opened. This new institution is unique in Upper Austria and offers therapeutic pedagogy opportunities for 18 children aged from five to thirteen.

In his report, Superintendent Lothar Pöll reminded the Conference members of the fact that diaconal activities belonged to the essence of Christian faith from the very beginning – and that one of John Wesley’s fundamental concerns was the ministry with the poor, which evolved into a primary feature of Methodism.

Some details from the meeting, which was marked by an atmosphere of openness and trust:

- The UMC is very small in Austria – but ecumenical guests once again underlined the importance of the Church in the ecumenical setting of the whole country.
- Rev. Sebastian Meisel, pastor of East Germany Annual Conference, will be transferred to Austria Provisional Annual Conference and serve Linz UMC in the coming years.
- The church building of Ried im Innkreis UMC had to be sold during the past year. This small congregation will now move to a new place and celebrate worship services and other events in the Lutheran church. This will probably open up new opportunities for cooperation of the two congregations.
- Vienna-Fünfhaus UMC shared very positive and encouraging experiences with the discipleship program «Spur8».
- The education for lay preachers and lay speakers was revised.
- In spite of the difficult financial situation the Conference lay members moved for an increase in the pastors’ salaries. The Church Council was commissioned to present a proposal to Annual Conference 2013 how an annual increase of the salaries by the inflation rate can be achieved.

Source: Rev. Stefan Schröckenfuchs, Vienna / Office of Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich
Date: June 12, 2012