2014 Hungary Provisional Annual Conference
April 10-13, 2014 in Nyíregyháza, Hungary
“If we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” This verse from 1 John 1 is the 2014 motto of the United Methodist Church in Hungary.
In his report to the 50 conference members and guests, Superintendent István Csernák focused on community. He underlined that the word “fellowship” or “Koinonia” in the quoted verse from the New Testament is not about the relations of a random gathering of men and women. It describes a group of people who live in a tight brotherly community, shaped by intimacy, a selfless devotion, and a willingness to help each other.
If the United Methodist congregations are such communities, they will make an impact on the people in their neighborhood.
This was, in a way, the undertone of all discussions: How can Hungarian Methodists––individually and as part of local churches and of the UMC as a whole–– make an impact on today’s society? How can they credibly reach out to people in their neighborhoods and let them experience love, appreciation, and encouragement? And against the background of the available personal and financial resources: which are the appropriate ministries and helpful structures serving best the aim to «make disciples of Jesus Christ»?
Reports from the annual conference committees and from the various local churches mirrored the commitment in regard to this aim.
In addition to the worship services there is an astonishing variety of ministries with people of all generations and social situations.
A special focus was once again on the ministries with Roma, which were intensified by the appointment of a pastor in Alsózsolca.
It was encouraging to recognize an impressive number of volunteers involved in various ministries along with increasing numbers of lay speakers and lay preachers.
The past year proved that structures are not always easy to deal with, and that the forms of cooperation are not always conflict-free.
“Democracy causes difficulties sometimes,” said Csernák . “The future requires the work of the church leadership; it is impossible to follow a one-person pastoral leading style.”
There was a proposal for more efficient cooperation between the various bodies in the annual conference. The voting members approved a new organizational chart.
According to a new education act of the Hungarian government, children from the first to the eighth grade are obliged to attend either ethics or religion class. These lessons are part of the official class schedule — and they require the contribution of the churches. This opens up an opportunity for United Methodist pastors and properly trained lay people to teach religion classes at public schools.
There are already 17 schools where United Methodist men and women are providing this education.
The annual conference also discussed how teaching material with some basic elements of The United Methodist Church could support those involved in this important ministry.
–– Yvonne Guizan, Lyss, Switzerland