Mission and Identity in Czech Republic and Slovakia

The Czech and Slovak Republics Annual Conference met from May 31 to June 2, 2013, in Prague. Several times the 60 participants broached the «Characters of a Methodist».

Whether in the reports of the two superintendents Róbert Zachar and Petr Procházka, in the discussion on the Episcopal Address of Bishop Patrick Streiff to the Central Conference 2013, in the information on the new UMC basic course, or in the report on the varied activities of the «Institute of Education» – the subject of the Methodist identity was dealt with on various occasions. Not for its own sake but rather with regard to the question: How do we help other people to do steps on the path of faith? Superintendent Petr Procházka called to mind what this help, among others, include: a focus on mission, a willingness to serve people in need, helpful educational opportunities, and an ecumenical openness.

Both in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia the number of professing members slightly increased – in the Czech Republic there are now 830 professing members, in Slovakia there are 229. However, some local churches also fell on hard times or – in the case of Nový Přerov and Kladno – even had to be closed down. There have also been a number of changes among the clergy: On the one hand several pastors, some of them rather young, will leave their ministerial office; on the other hand Jana Křížova was ordained elder in the closing worship service on Sunday. In addition Pavel Procházka was appointed as new superintendent of the UMC in Slovakia. His predecessor, Superintendent Róbert Zachar, will soon move, together with his family, to England – to the home country of his spouse.

The Methodist identity includes a border-crossing connection. This is of course visible in the fact that the Annual Conference covers two countries. However, a few days prior to the meeting in Prague, two representatives of the UMC in the Czech Republic traveled to France in order to present the various ministries of their local churches and to explore with the Brothers and Sisters from the Alsatian UMC congregations what it means to be a credible church in a strongly secularized country. And at the Annual Conference in Prague there were guests from abroad, which were whole-heartedly welcomed: the superintendent of the UMC in Serbia and a delegate of the East German Annual Conference. The latter told his Czech and Slovakian Brothers and Sisters that he found out while preparing for the Conference that the closest UMC congregation from his own church would not be in Germany but in the Czech Republic…

The next meeting of the Annual Conference will take place from May 30 to June 1, 2014, in the Czech Republic.

Source: Rev. Matthias Zieboll, Zittau (Germany) / Urs Schweizer, Assistant to the Bishop, Zurich (Switzerland)
Date: June 4, 2013