The 2022 Hungary Provisional Conference of The United Methodist Church convened April 7-10 in Budapest.
Joy was great that delegates to the 90th annual conference session could gather in person. Joshua 24:15b, NRSV, provided the theme: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Ways are being sought to promote renewal of the church's work following COVID-19 restrictions.
In the opening worship service, Kristóf Sztupkai, a new probationary pastor, pointed out the church’s tasks in challenging times: Faithfully keep all that God asks, do not abandon God's way and remain in continuous renewal.
Conference proceedings began under the leadership of Bishop Patrick Streiff. Working groups presented their reports.
Various new staff members were elected and introduced: the conference lay leader, as well as directors of Márta Mária retirement homes, Forrai High School in Budapest and the central church office.
The work of the two high schools in Budapest, which are run by The United Methodist Church in Hungary, is notable. The Hungarian state gives the churches the opportunity to exercise leadership over public educational institutions. The UMC in Hungary took over the responsibility for two high schools with a total of 900 students and 110 teachers.
Administrative duties are carried out by the office of the superintendent, László Khaled, while spiritual duties are covered by pastors and teachers. The local churches in Budapest try to build close relationships with teachers and students by organizing camps, retreats and joint worship services. This is a special opportunity and a challenge for the church.
“We would like to see congregations open up further to proclaiming the gospel in these places and learning to bear witness to Jesus Christ in their collaboration with schools,” said Dr. Barta Katalin, the church's education and legal officer.
Other work with youth and young adults was addressed. As in the years before COVID-19, a family camp for all ages, with intergenerational fellowship, is planned. In addition, a missionary focus will be directed toward those who at some point had contact with parishes, schools or youth groups. The newly formed Religious Education Commission will support these efforts.
The thematic focus portion included enriching presentations on successful evangelization in Hungary.
During the closing service, Györgyi Vályi and László Győri were commissioned as local pastors, Sztupkai as a probationary pastor.
The UMC in Hungary faces many challenges but looks forward courageously and joyfully to building the kingdom of God.
—The Rev. Bernfried Schnell, Bregenz, Austria, and Office of Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich
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