The members of Hungary Provisional Annual Conference met from April 25 to 28, 2019, in Óbuda (Budapest). On this occasion, they also celebrated the 20thanniversary of the new church building of Óbuda UMC.
Many things have changed over the course of the past 20 years. A new generation of pastors and lay leaders has grown up. Each year, one of the older pastors is retiring, and it is a special gift that there are again and again young people who hear the call to the ordained ministry and who are willing to be educated for this journey.
20 years ago, nobody could have imagined that the UMC would one day take over the leadership of two big schools in Budapest – the Forrai School and the Schola Europa. In 2018, the second of these schools, the Schola Europa, was officially taken over by the UMC. This step was once again done on the initiative of the school. Its leaders had heard of the positive experiences after the UMC had taken over responsibility for the Forrai School five years ago and had contacted the Church. At the request of the Schola Europa school director, the opening worship service of this year’s Annual Conference meeting with a sermon of Bishop Patrick Streiff took place in «her» school. Even a TV station was present and additionally recorded an interview with the school director, the school chaplain Kristóf Sztupkai, and the Bishop.
Both schools offer education on college level – while Forrai School primarily focuses on arts, Schola Europa is more oriented towards IT and communications. Additionally, both schools are in a process of expanding their study opportunities on high school level. On this level, the UMC can offer religious education. At Forrai School, there are more than 350 youth the UMC is regularly working with; at Schola Europa, there is one first high school class to which one or two classes are added every year. This means that the schools provide opportunities to reach out to more youth than all the other United Methodist ministries with youth in Hungary do. Some parents deliberately send their children to the two Methodist schools because they know that they are operated by a Church. However, many young people and their parents have neither a church background nor any experiences with a Church. This opens up many opportunities to share the Gospel with youth that could never be reached without these schools.
Over the course of the past years, the ministries with children and youth were also expanded in the local churches and on a national level (e.g. by ministries with teenagers or by confirmation camps). In 2019, the Annual Conference members approved a plan to offer regular activities and events for young adults, both single and newly married. All younger pastors as well as the students of theology are involved in such activities and events. Based on the motto of this year’s Annual Conference meeting (Behold, I stand at the door and knock. – Revelation 3:20), young people are encouraged to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and to explore the meaning of being a disciple of Christ. They are also inspired and trained to take over responsibility in the various mission fields of the local churches.
The next meeting of the Annual Conference will take place from June 4 to 7, 2020 – the meeting venue will again be Budapest.
Source: Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich (Switzerland)