2016 Estonia Conference
The United Methodist Church in Estonia gathered for the 2016 Annual Conference in Tallinn Methodist Church (Baltic Mission Center) on June 17-19, 2016 under the theme of "Do I see God`s image in my neighbor?" (1 John 4:20).
Clergy, lay and guests gathered for discussions, reports, worship and Bible study. One new local pastor and two new probationary members were accepted among the clergy.
We are grateful to God for new people who got baptized and joined the congregations. During last year we had many baptisms, the number of new professions of faith was 112. The statistical increase of the membership compared to the previous year was plus 77 an increase of approximately 5 percent.
During the Annual Conference we took part in the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary graduation service, where 7 students graduated from the three-year theology program and 17 received the certificate for completing the first year study.
We are grateful to God for the various ministries, like Children Centers Lighthouse (day center for the children in Tallinn); the new Sunbeam care center in Jõhvi for disabled children; a new church start in Helsinki Finland for Russian speaking people; two rehabilitation centers for people with drug addictions and adaptation centers to re-socialize persons who have recovered from drug addiction.
In August this year six young people will conclude the new program "A Year For God" which is an extensive teaching in evangelism and practical church ministry for Russian-speaking youth. In November, we plan to start a Bible school for Estonian-speaking people as a pilot project.
During the Annual Conference session, two new United Methodist Board of Global Ministries missionaries from the U.S. and one volunteer missionary from Zimbabwe were introduced to the conference. They all are serving in Estonia.
The Estonia Annual Conference decided to accept a resolution concerning human sexuality which states the following: As the United Methodist Church in Estonia, we believe God`s Word clearly teaches that expressions of human sexuality belong only within the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman.
We believe that living by the principles God has given in his Word and accepting God`s created order gives the best opportunity for harmony in the family and society. According to the social principles of the United Methodist Church ¶ 161F (BOD 2012) we do not condone the practice of homosexuality. Nor do we accept same-sex marriages or blessings of same sex unions. We do not accept other related sexual practices which are contrary to God`s created order. We call for our Church to retain its current stance on these issues.
We affirm that God offers freedom from sin and healing to all people through grace and repentance and as a Church we are gladly open for ministry to all people in accordance with the Holy Scriptures.
The United Methodist Church in Estonia is also signatory of the common statement of the Estonian Council of Churches re-affirming the traditional Christian view of human sexuality. (Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in Estonia 19 June 2016)
In June 2017 The United Methodist Church in Estonia will celebrate its 110th anniversary.
--Bishop Christian Alsted, Nordic & Baltic Area, Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference and Taavi Hollman, district superintendent, United Methodist Church in Estonia.