Our Hope in Christ

Czech Republic-Slovakia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church met from June 5 to 7, 2015, in Bratislava (Slovakia). A theological presentation at the opening and personal reports from several local churches at the end of the meeting referred to the conference theme «Our Hope in Christ» and surrounded the other conference business.

Since the Annual Conference covers two countries with different legal situations, organizational, administrative, and financial issues are dealt with separately at the respective district conferences. Most of the working groups for programs with children, youth, women, etc. work district-wise, as well, whereas the Annual Conference meetings focus on cross-border and joint matters such as education as well as lay and ordained ministry.

One of the highlights of this year’s conference was the closing Sunday when Gabriella Kopas, Pavle Kocev, and Štefan Rendoš (all from Slovakia) were ordained elders. Another coworker from Slovakia, Ivan Lukač, was admitted as pastor on probation, and Štefania Sklenárová was commissioned to serve as local pastor. In the Czech district, there was also a new local pastor starting his ministry: Jiří Kantor. This means that there are now 16 active clergy members in the Czech district and eleven active clergy members in the Slovak district.

Right prior to the Annual Conference, the district conference of the UMC in Slovakia met. The participants continued the conversation on the future focus areas of ministry. After a meeting with the Bishop in November 2014, in which the potential and the problems of the current situation had been discussed, regional groups had met and prepared their reports, which they now presented to the district conference. As a result, three priorities for the future work emerged:

1) more intense cooperation of the local churches with the aim to strengthen the existing local churches and to support growth
2) creation of opportunities for and activities with youth enabling them to shape the mission of the church with their gifts and talents
3) strengthening the awareness and willingness of all members and friends to actively participate in the mission of the church – with their gifts and talents, their time and their financial opportunities

The participants considered it important that in regard to all these priorities the three basic dimensions motivating to such a ministry are kept in mind: to strengthen the vertical dimension of the relationship with God, to develop the horizontal dimension of the fellowship with one another, and to live out a faith radiating love and thus having a social impact.

Source: Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich
Date: June 8, 2015