In August 2019, people called Methodists from all over Eurasia had gathered in Uzhgorod (Ukraine) to share the joy of Unity in the ministry to God with brothers and sisters from other countries and to celebrate a special anniversary in their history – 130 years of Methodism in Eurasia. While some months have passed by since this event took place, it is still worth to have a look at the history of The United Methodist Church in Eurasia
The history of the Methodists in Eurasia began in the year 1889, when Finnish mission started its work in Saint-Petersburg. In 1909, Episcopal Methodist Church in Eurasia was officially recognized in the Russian Empire. By 1910, the Methodist congregation had about 500 members of different nationalities already.
Apparently, such a quick spreading of Methodism was stimulated by priority spheres of their functioning, i.e. by Social help, Missionary work, and education.
In 1920, Methodists began their ministry in Harbin, Manchuria, and Vladivostok to serve to Korean population migrated to Siberia and the Far East. During the five years, several congregations were opened in Harbin; Sunday schools, general education schools, a business school, a health clinic, a women social center, an institution for children welfare and a theological seminary were established in the area.
The Spirit of God moved the ministry of the Methodists in Uzhgorod (now Ukraine), where the 130th celebration was held. On March 26, 1923, the Missionary Council of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the South (USA) purchased the building as a gift for the community of Uzhgorod. From different sides – form the West and from the East – the spreading of Methodism in Russia had started.
However, the revolution changed the history of the Church dramatically. As a result of political pressure after the revolution of 1917 and the Second World War, most signs of the Methodist presence in the Soviet Union were erased, church property was confiscated.
Only in the early 90s, the UMC in Eurasia resumed its existence as an initiative of the Global UMC: missionaries left their homes came to a foreign country on another continent to tell people about Jesus Christ and help to build the Church. Owing to partners from the United Methodist churches of the USA and Europe, their prayers and support, church communities reappeared in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
For ten years, until 2003, the newly emerged United Methodist congregations in Western Ukraine belonged to the Hungary Provisional Annual Conference, before they were transferred to the Eurasia Episcopal Area once again.
Each story remembered at the festival became a unique testimony of God’s work through ministers and missionaries at different times of the history of the Methodist church in Eurasia. This history unites us, despite everything; we all are connected in the Body of Christ – and it is impossible to break this connection.
Mission and Service of The United Methodist Church in Eurasia is supported by the Fund for Mission in Europe. You can be part of this network of solidarity throughout Europe by donating towards the Fund for Mission in Europe:
Account Holder: Ev.-meth. Kirche – Weltmission c/o Fonds Mission in Europe
IBAN: DE56 5206 0410 0200 4017 73