2015 Serbia-Macedonia Provisional Annual Conference
April 17-19 in Monospitovo, Macedonia
For the first time in 26 years, the meeting of the Serbia-Macedonia Provisional Annual Conference took place in Monospitovo, a farm town in Macedonia’s Strumica Valley. It was a joyful celebration for the local United Methodist congregation, and even the mayor attended the opening worship service.
Several United Methodist congregations exist in the Strumica Valley, which is one of the most fertile agricultural areas of Macedonia. Most residents are farmers, and young people often return home after their studies, due to the challenge of finding non-farm employment. On the other hand, salaries in Macedonia are so low that some international companies are using the country for low-cost manufacturing.
Two years ago, the only ordained elder in Macedonia below retirement age was appointed to Monospitovo United Methodist Church. Since then much has happened. The local church contributed – both by volunteer work and donations – to a renovation of the parsonage and an extension of some church rooms. One week before Annual Conference, the courtyard was paved so that it could be used for parking and coffee breaks. While a few days ago many cultivated areas had once again been flooded by heavy rains, the sun was shining throughout the April 17-19 conference.
There was another reason to celebrate in Monospitovo: Last fall a young man started his internship with this congregation. He was the first young person in many years to be undertaking this journey. He will probably start theological studies this fall. A second intern will follow then. In regard to volunteer work, young people are increasingly willing to take part. So there are encouraging signs of spring in The United Methodist Church in Macedonia, with a new generation of leaders starting to emerge.
The Annual Conference covers both Macedonia and Serbia, and the reports often referred to a renewed cooperation between the two districts. In the conversations during the conference the mutual appreciation also became visible. The young people particularly look forward to the joint youth camp in summer 2015 (with participants from Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Serbia). Two delegates from Albania reported on the latest developments of churches in Bishnica, Elbasan, Pogradec, and Tirana.
The next Annual Conference will be April 7-10, 2016, in Padina, Serbia. The elected delegates to General Conference 2016 are Emil Zaev (president of the church council in Macedonia, lay) and Daniel Sjanta (pastor in Kovačica, Serbia).
—Central and Southern Europe Bishop Patrick Streiff.