The UMC in Poland is not only at the beginning of the second century of its existence, but also had important decisions to make for the future at its Annual Conference gathering this year, held in Ełk from June 23-26, 2022.
Who will lead the UMC in Poland as the leading superintendent in the coming years? This question was on the minds of pastors and lay members even before the Annual Conference. In such election years one senses a stronger tension in dealing with each other. Different reports and topics can then be used to say what should change in the church or how good the previous leadership was.
In the Poland Annual Conference, a special "Internal Law" is in effect that specifies how the election of the leading superintendent is to be conducted. It attempts to combine the earlier, long-standing practice of direct election by the conference with the church order in which superintendents are appointed by the bishop. In Poland, members of the Annual Conference may select from among ordained elders. From the three persons with the most votes, the bishop may then appoint one person as a future leading superintendent. Subsequently, the conference must elect this person by a simple majority in order for him/her to have the legal authority to lead the UMC in Poland according to the basic statute of the church with the state. The term of office is always after the conference of the following year. Further appointments of district superintendents must be made in agreement between the bishop and the leading superintendent.
The previous leading superintendent could be re-elected for another six-year term, or a new person could have been elected for an initial four-year term. The previous incumbent, Andrzej Malicki, received just over two-thirds of the vote. Therefore, without further discussion with the two other pastors who also received votes, Bishop Patrick Streiff confirmed that he would appoint Andrzej Malicki as the leading superintendent for the term 2023-2029. Both the bishop and Andrzej Malicki himself emphasized to the conference that the next term should bring a change to a younger generation in the governing bodies. Accordingly, a first new pastor, Dariusz Zuber, was elected to the church council already this year.
For the rest, the dominant themes at the conference were, on the one hand, the return to physical meetings in the local churches and at regional or national events and, on the other hand, the work with Ukrainian refugees. A recent example shows how closely the two can be related: many were looking forward to the large, multi-day meeting of the "Days of Renewal", which was finally to take place again after the Covid period. It usually brings together 250 to 300 people from all over the country. Immediately before the meeting of the Annual Conference came the news that the booked recreation home will remain occupied by Ukrainian refugees well into the fall and will not be available. It was not clear by the end of the gathering whether a comparable alternative could be found in the short time available. On the other hand, the big "tepee camp" for children can finally take place again after the pandemic. Many enthusiastic young people volunteer to help in the organization.
After the Annual Conference was held in the northeast of the country this year, the next meeting will be held again in the south, in Katowice, from June 1 to 4, 2023.
Source: Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich