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2011 Poland Annual Conference

Poland Annual Conference
June 3-5, Warsaw, Poland

Participants in the 90th annual conference in Poland, under the theme "Remembering and Dreaming," remembered the past and looked toward the future. The dreams, however, were more difficult to put into words or images than the presentation of the past. The meditation on Saturday morning, which focused on dreaming, referred to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of overcoming racial segregation. On Saturday evening, there was a celebration with ecumenical guests.

The look into the future particularly found expression in discussions on the financial situation. The church council presented suggestions of how local churches could encourage members to increase local giving through offerings and donations. At present, considerable regional differences exist in this regard. The English language schools are of decreasing financial significance for the church since the number of students continues to decline. On the other hand, annual conference members expressed thankfulness for the ongoing, faithful support from The United Methodist Church in Switzerland, particularly for the pastors' salaries.

The annual conference was informed about the creation of a special working group with members from Poland and other countries of the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe. This working group was commissioned to prepare proposals as to whether and how an internal law for the United Methodist Church in Poland, compatible with the Book of Discipline, can be developed. The annual conference will deal with these proposals at its next meeting June 1-3, 2012.

One ordained elder had to leave his ministerial office. In the closing worship on Sunday, another pastor was ordained elder. Last year a woman presented herself as a candidate for ordained ministry. She will now advance to a second probationary year. Because of her pregnancy, there were a number of questions of how she will be able to serve as probationary pastor besides the duties of being a mother. The photos of the first female pastor of The United Methodist Church in Poland (ordained elder in 1972) were included in the anniversary publication. In reality, however, many people in the church still have difficulties accepting the ministry of women particularly when it comes to religious ceremonies such as baptism, the Lord's Supper, weddings or funerals.

At the suggestion of a superintendent, General Superintendent Edward Puslecki was elected clergy delegate to General Conference 2012 (reserve delegate: Andrzej Malicki). Olgierd Benedyktowicz was elected lay delegate (reserve delegate: Agatha Kulanowska). The elections for Central Conference 2013 will take place next year.

--Office of Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich/Switzerland