2007 Finland Swedish Annual Provisional Conference
June 6-10, 2007, Grankulla, Finland
In a rare early round of hot and sticky heat with no air conditioning, the Finland Swedish Annual Provisional Conference convened in Grankulla, just outside the country's capital of Helsinki. The theme of the conference was "Our Next Step," and the program offered teaching, music, worship, prayer and testimonies.
This year's program was divided into two parts. The negotiation was held from Wednesday thru Friday afternoon. Friday night was a yearly celebration for all of the church, and the annual conference ended on Sunday with a broadcasted service on national Swedish language radio.
The conference invited two guests from Sweden: Torsten Åhman gave widely appreciated speeches on how to develop church services, and Tomas Boström spoke as an expert on Charles Wesley's music.
Friday night was dedicated to Charles Wesley and his music as Boström told about the relationship between Charles and his brother, Methodism founder John Wesley, and how Charles often was ahead of his brother in many aspects. On guitar, Boström performed many Wesley songs which filled Bethlehem Church and has been released on a CD.
Åhman shared insights and asked questions about what a Sunday service should be. Is the Sunday service for the members of the church, or for the whole society where it is located? Are we making them comfortable for ourselves, or are we focusing on reaching people outside the inner circles of the congregation?
On Friday and Saturday nights, the conference choir, a solo artist and a worship team performed in a nearby school concert hall. The music was blended with testimonies and preaching.
The children had their own conference during the hold time ending "Kid's Year," which was announced at last year's annual conference. Everything went smoothly thanks to many helping hands, sunny weather and suitable space. The children also went to an animal farm to look at domicile animals.
This year's conference took place without Bishop Øystein Olsen, who was ill. Instead, Tapani Rajamäki of the Finnish Methodist Church presided. Many greetings from other Methodist churches were received and answered: Sweden, Estonia and, in the United States, Phoenix, Arizona and Denver.
Debates were about the future of the church and how it could be developed. A petition by the Methodist youth dealt with the fact that offerings have gone down, while the surpluses from investments have grown. Thereby more activities are financed with capital investments rather than by member activity. Another resolution suggested church planting by restructuring the congregational network. However, many viewed this as too radical a step.
Most petitions were not approved, but a board on studies on church development was approved.
Another matter was participation in various inter-Christian committees due to limited resources for church staff to travel to the meetings. However, no decision on this matter was taken.
Delegates were elected for the General Conference 2008 and for the Central Conference 2009.