2007 Austria Annual Conference
May 17-20, 2007, Linz
The Austria Annual Conference met in Linz. The session's theme sounded like "unity of faith-diversity of church," but instead of Einheit, the German word for unity, the theme used the German word Einfalt, which means "simplicity" in English. The English translation "Einfalt des Glaubens-Vielfalt der Kirche" is "one-folded faith-many-folded church."
The rich meaning beyond the play of words was reflected in conference business. To speak of "simplicity" instead of "unity" makes it clear that the focus should be on that plain faith for which the fathers of the church used the Latin word "simplicitas." John Wesley wanted to share this concern of the "plain truth for plain people." The enriching diversity of the annual conference was visible and audible and was experienced in multicultural worship services and various meetings.
Finances were a main topic of conference discussions. Since fall 2006, when a new pastor began service, the annual conference has more pastoral workers than it can afford. The church council showed that this development will result in the long run in a decrease of the value of the real property of the church.
In his report, the conference superintendent submitted an analysis of the financial contributions of the church members. The average giving is astoundingly low, lower than all annual conference members had estimated. While some core members have a very strong financial commitment, a majority of the members do not-or barely support the church financially. Some measures to positively develop a "culture of giving" have been adopted.
Another report dealt with progress in the ecumenical cooperation and especially with regard to a common understanding of baptism between the three Protestant Churches (Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist) and the Alliance of Baptist congregations.
The Rev. Wilfried Nausner and the Rev. Roland Siegrist were elected as delegates to General Conference 2008.
The 2008 session of the Austria Annual Conference will be May 15-18 in Salzburg.