2015 Poland Conference
70 years of witness and service in Masuria
When the Poland Conference of The United Methodist Church met June 26-28, 2015, it was not by chance that Ostroda was chosen as conference site. The United Methodist Church in Masuria celebrates an important anniversary this year.
In 1945, at the end of World War II, most of the Germans left East Prussia towards the west, the majority of protestant pastors joined them. Those who were not able or did not want to leave their home, sent an appeal for help to other protestant churches and asked them to send pastors to Masuria.
The Methodists were able to respond. In many villages and towns, they assumed responsibility for worship services and other gatherings of those who were still living there. A number of small worship places in villages had to be given up in the past 70 years, but there are still a number of United Methodist congregations in Masuria, which are situated close together, while in other parts of Poland it is not uncommon that the distance between neighboring local churches is 100 km and more. It is also in Masuria that some United Methodist congregations gather in church buildings, which are several hundred years old.
On June 27, 2015, a thanksgiving service was celebrated on the occasion of the anniversary, “70 years of witness and service in Masuria.” Politicians and delegates from other churches were present, as well.
During the conference meeting, Adrian Myslinski, was ordained deacon. In Poland, this is still the first step on the journey towards becoming an ordained elder. Two other people were accepted as candidates: Jaroslav Bator and Monika Zuber. Zuber once again starts a period of two years as candidate for the ordained ministry.
There were plans to discuss and approve the revised version of the United Methodist lawbook, the Book of Discipline, in Polish this year. In May 2015, the local churches had been asked to submit comments and wishes to the commission on the Book of Discipline. However, since several delegates presented their remarks, concerns and wishes to many articles at the opening of the conference session only, it was not possible to do what was planned. Instead, the conference members agreed on a process for the submission of further feedback to the commission and on an extra conference session on March 19, 2016. Then the revised lawbook should be in its final version and ready for approval. In this final version it shall state that The United Methodist Church in Poland is part of the worldwide United Methodist Church and that the Book of Discipline of the worldwide United Methodist Church is applicable in Poland, as well.
Andrzej Malicki and Olgierd Benedyktowicz were elected as delegates to 2016 General Conference. The next regular session of the conference will be June 24-26, 2016.
--Bishop Patrick Streiff, Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe