2014 Czech Republic/Slovakia Annual Conference
May 30-June 1, 2014 in Prague
About 60 lay members and pastors participated in the conference.
The gathering opened with Holy Communion.
Since the United Methodist congregations in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia are part of two broadly autonomous districts, there were not many reports to discuss. Only the two superintendents, Pavel Procházka of Slovakia and Petr Procházka of the Czech Republic read their personal reports.
In the meeting of the lay members, the newly translated liturgy for the Czech Republic caused a lively discussion. Its grade of binding nature was particularly controversial. Finally it was decided to start working with this liturgy in order to have an opportunity to gather experiences and to discuss them with others afterwards.
A second priority was the invitation to join educational courses for lay people. Six people completed the first course and were recognized as new lay preachers.
An additional conference study course was established for those who would like to become local pastors.
A report from the clergy meeting revealed how crucial the commitment of lay people is. There are not enough ordained pastors, and particularly in Slovakia the young generation is missing.
Conference members expressed their gratitude and appreciation for her longstanding and faithful service of Pastor Alena Procházková, who retired after serving as a hospital chaplain during the past few years.
Conference members expressed warm thanks to Michelle McKinnon-Young und Gary Young for three years of committed service. The couple from Holston Conference is returning to the United States after establishing an English-speaking congregation in Prague. They discovered that the English language opened doors to ex-patriots and Czech citizens who wanted to sharpen their English skills. After the summer holidays a couple with two small children — again from the Holston Conference will carry on this ministry.
“Mission — on the way to the people” was the focus on Saturday. Former Superintendent Josef Červeňák shared some basic aspects of a Methodist understanding of mission:
- Make disciples of Jesus and not of yourself
- Don’t admire Jesus – follow him
- Share God’s love with your neighbor
The lecture was followed by examples of ways these aspects are implemented.
In Tachov (CZ) the church building also serves as a daily tearoom that reaches 400 people weekly.
Ľuboš Tagaj talked about the ministry with Roma in Slovakia. This ministry needs to be very practical and the love needs to take visible and helpful shape. Emotional and lively music is an attractive way to get people enthusiastic about street evangelism.
Other examples were mentioned such as ministry with the sick, drug addicts, prisoners, homeless people, young people at risk for addiction, mothers and children.
The closing service on Sunday was attended by members and friends of Prague 2 United Methodist Church and many guests. Bishop Patrick Streiff preached on Ephesians 3:14-21: to be rooted in love, to experience the abundance of God’s love – and to share it with others.
Following the announcement of the new appointments, all those who were once again sent “to be on the way to the people” received certificates, which stated their ministry for the new conference year.
–– Regula Stotz, Basel/Switzerland