70 years of witness and service in Masuria

When Polish Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) met from June 26 to 28, 2015, it was not by chance that Ostroda was chosen as conference site but because of the fact that the UMC in Masuria celebrates an important anniversary this year.

When in 1945, at the end of World War II, most of the Germans left East Prussia towards the west, the majority of Protestant pastors joined them. Those who were not able or did not want to leave their home, sent an appeal for help to other Protestant Churches and asked them to send pastors to Masuria. The Methodists were able to respond positively: In many villages and towns, they assumed responsibility for worship services and other gatherings of those who were still living there. A number of small worship places in villages had to be given up in the past 70 years, but there are still a number of United Methodist congregations in Masuria, which are situated close together, while in other parts of Poland it is not uncommon that the distance between neighboring local churches is 100 km and more. It is also in Masuria that some United Methodist congregations gather in church buildings, which are several hundred years old. On June 27, 2015, a thanksgiving service was celebrated on the occasion of the anniversary «70 years of witness and service in Masuria». Politicians and delegates from other Churches were present, as well.

During the Annual Conference meeting a young man, Adrian Myslinski, was ordained deacon. In Poland, this is still the first step on the journey towards becoming an ordained elder. Two other people were accepted as candidates: Jaroslav Bator and Monika Zuber. This means that Monika Zuber once again starts a period of two years as candidate for the ordained ministry.

There had been plans to discuss and approve the revised version of the Polish discipline («Internal Law») this year. In May 2015, the local churches had been offered the possibility to submit their comments and wishes to the commission on the Internal Law. However, since several delegates presented their remarks, concerns and wishes in regard to many articles of the Internal Law at the opening of the Annual Conference session only, it was not possible to do what was planned. Instead, the conference members agreed on a process for the submission of further feedback to the commission on the Internal Law and on an extraordinary Annual Conference session on March 19, 2016. Then the revised Internal Law should be in its final version and ready for approval. In this final version it shall be explicitly stated that the UMC in Poland is part of the worldwide United Methodist Church and that the Book of Discipline of the worldwide United Methodist Church is applicable in Poland, as well.

Leading Superintendent Andrzej Malicki and Olgierd Benedyktowicz were elected as delegates to General Conference 2016. The next regular session of the Annual Conference will take place from June 24 to 26, 2016.

Source: Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich
Date. July 1, 2015