2008 Eurasia Area of The United Methodist Church
May 23-25, East Russia and Central Asia Provisional Annual Conference
May 29-June 1, South Russia Provisional Annual Conference
June 5-8, Ukraine and Moldova Provisional Annual Conference
June 12-15, Northwest Russia Provisional Annual Conference
June 19-21, Central Russia Annual Conference
"I believe we're on the right track," Bishop Hans Växby said in his address to the five annual conferences in Eurasia this year. He said Paul's words in Philippians 3:16 came to mind, especially as formulated in The Message by Eugene Peterson: "Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it."
The United Methodist Church in Eurasia faces many challenges, he said. It is not as resourceful as he would like, and it lacks experience in several areas. But, he said, it has found "the right track," it knows where it is going, and it is taking intentional steps toward the goal.
There are five annual and provisional annual conferences in Eurasia, covering eight of the former Soviet republics from Kaliningrad at the Baltic Sea to Vladivostok at the Japanese Sea. The theme for all conferences were "Source of Life" (1 Corinthians 1:30), and a new translation of Charles Wesley's "Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine" was introduced.
This year has been a turning point for the Siberia-Far East District after several years of struggle, District Superintendent Elena Chudinova reported.
The work in Central Asia continues to expand. This year, six new Bible groups have been formed, two in Kyrgyzstan and four in Kazakhstan. One of them, east of Almaty toward the Chinese border, is led by the Rev. Dmitri Li, who has been the leader of the development in Central Asia during the past six years. He is succeeded this year by Vyacheslav Kim as district superintendent, but is staying in Kazakhstan under pastor appointment.
There were also two other changes in the area cabinet. Alexander Kozorezov is the new superintendent for the North Caucasus District in South Russia after Elena nyailova, and Andrei Kim is getting additional responsibility by taking over the West District in Northwest Russia after Nelli Mamonova.
The Ukraine has now the three largest churches in terms of worship attendance, Kaminitsa, Uzhgorod and Chernovtsy. Two planned church plants have not yet started but are expected to happen during the coming conference year. Also the student ministry in Lviv has had an especially fruitful year. The missionaries Stacy and Fred Vanderwerf return this summer to Minnesota, and the conference is expecting expedient replacements.
Coaching has been introduced in the episcopal area as part of an effort to strengthen pastors. "Coaching" is a new word that corresponds with and enhances what the Book of Discipline says about "mentors," "evaluation" and "supervision."
Coaching is a system of giving structure to the relationship between the district superintendent and the pastor. A written covenant formalizes the relationship and makes it more intentional. It turns the focus from checking to encouraging. Its main purpose is to help translate the vision of the pastor into concrete results.
The area cabinet had a coaches' training in March. Växby, who also has a coach, will in turn coach the district superintendents, and they will coach the pastors.
--Bishop Hans Växby