2023 Poland Annual Conference

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"The world has lost its way: suffering and death have become a daily reality. Today more than ever, we need the proclamation of life and hope." What Leading Superintendent Andrzej Malicki wrote in his report with regard to the war in Ukraine, The United Methodist Church in Poland lived in many ways during the past conference year. Out of a deep sense of hope, the church actively supported life, for example by providing urgently needed goods to refugees in Poland, but also to people who had remained in Ukraine.

In his report, Malicki also looked back on his 10-year tenure as Leading Superintendent. Highlights were ecumenical contacts within the framework of his task as chairman of the Polish Ecumenical Council and the annual meetings with the Polish president, the co-creation of broadcasts on state radio and television, but also the annual Renewal Days in August, which were attended by up to 400 people each time, and camps for children and young people. 

He also mentioned current challenges: the insufficient number of new pastors; the financial resources that are even more limited after the pandemic, which also has a negative impact on the maintenance of properties; the exodus of young adults from the local churches and the migration abroad. "Without them," he wrote, "we will lose the present and the future." 

On a hopeful note, however, there are, among the ordained elders, quite a number of younger pastors who are strongly committed and are also looking for paths to live out the mission of the Church in new ways, without carelessly throwing overboard what is tried and true. 

The United Methodist Church in Poland has a unique opportunity to have regular reports on state radio and television or to have church services broadcast. At the Annual Conference meeting, for example, the opening service was recorded by the national radio and the closing service by the national television. Both broadcasts will be aired in the coming weeks. The Church in Poland knows how to use this opportunity with great commitment and creativity!

In two resolutions, which gave rise to discussions, the Annual Conference made use of the opportunity opened up by the Central Conference last November and clearly acknowledged the previous traditional position on the question of dealing with homosexuality, but at the same time stated that it wants to remain connected in the future both with the Central Conference of the UMC and with the worldwide Church. 

At the conclusion of Saturday's session, a simple ceremony was held to recognize several individuals with service anniversaries and to celebrate the transition of responsibility from Bishop Patrick Streiff to Bishop Stefan Zürcher. Among other things, Bishop Streiff and his wife were thanked and bid farewell with a book of photographs.

The next meeting of the Annual Conference will be held in Ostroda June 27-30, 2024.

Urs Schweizer, assistant to Bishop Stefan Zürcher, Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe, Zurich.

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