From May 26-29, 2022, the 93rd session of Austria Provisional Annual Conference took place in Salzburg.
Under the leadership of Bishop Patrick Streiff and Superintendent Stefan Schröckenfuchs, nearly 30 pastors, lay people and guests met to reflect on the final point of a thematic triad (2019: "What to teach?", 2021: "How to teach?", 2022: "What to do?"). In addition, the members and guests of the Annual Conference - together with guests from the ecumenical community - were able to celebrate the opening of the new church rooms of Salzburg UMC, located in a diaconal center.
The extensive and thought-provoking superintendent's report was the basis for numerous conversations in very different forms and accompanied the members and guests of the Annual Conference throughout the meeting. In the sense of a summary, a leitmotif was finally adopted for the future shaping of church work in the UMC in Austria: "We celebrate the love of God, through this we give courage, we promote development and we make a difference!"
Three thematic areas were assessed as particularly important and urgent in view of the future: Sustainability and Ecology; Mission and Visibility; Children and Youth. They will accompany the UMC on its way into the future, and the area of "mission and visibility" in particular will be the content of the next two sessions of the Annual Conference. How can grace - the healing love of God - be made available to those who need it? Those who do not attend church services (anymore) because the "church" does not give them hope, confidence or sufficiently sustainable answers to their questions (anymore)? Those who do not go in search of a Christian community because they place their hopes elsewhere? And what does it take for children and young people in particular to have a renewed desire to celebrate God's love together?
Another topic of discussion during the conference was "Inclusion and Diversity". Especially here it became apparent how much the interaction with each other is characterized by openness, mutual respect and the will to listen seriously - which made very personal and profound conversations possible.
Frank Moritz-Jauk (Graz) was admitted as a pastor on probation, Dorothee Büürma (Salzburg) in full connection.
The next meeting of the Annual Conference will be held from May 18-21, 2023, in Linz.
Source: Ute Frühwirth, Graz / Urs Schweizer, assistant to Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich
Photo: Superintendent Stefan Schröckenfuchs at the opening of the new church rooms of Salzburg UMC