August 14 to 18, 2019, people called Methodists gathered in Uzhgorod (Ukraine) to share the joy of “Unity” in the ministry to God with brothers and sisters from other countries during the Eurasian Partnership Consultation (Initiative) and Celebrate the new date in their history – 130 years of Methodism in Eurasia.
“Our “likeness in being the Body of Christ.” This is a Divine Likeness – that sets aside ALL DIFFERENCES and brings together people who don’t think alike, who don’t talk alike, who don’t look alike, who don’t act alike and UNITES them under the power of God’s grace and love. This is worth every minute, every dollar, every sacrifice we make to discover the Divine Likeness in all of us,” shared Amy Valdez Barker (Executive Director of Global Mission Connections) in her morning devotion .
“The Eurasia Consultation was a great gift in building relationships and learning more about mission and ministry through the Methodist movement over the past 130 years. I was deeply moved by the stories of leaders in Eurasia and the challenges they face striving for unity in the diversity of political and religious landscapes across the region. My prayers are with the people of Eurasia as they seek to be followers of Jesus Christ and bring the Gospel message of God’s grace and love to the people of Eurasia,” Amy told about her impressions of the events.
The Eurasia Consultation lasted for two days from August 14 to 15. Ministers from different parts of Eurasia and partners from the United Methodist Churches of the USA and Europe came to the meeting. Owing to their prayers and support church communities appeared in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In the early 90s, the UMC in Eurasia resumed its existence as an initiative of the Global UMC: missionaries left their homes, came to a foreign country on another continent to tell people about Jesus Christ and help to build the Church .
The Initiative does not only remind us about partnership, but also helps to analyze the past, evaluate the present and gain a further vision in fulfilling God’s mission, as Eurasia UMC and the representatives from partner churches – both are the parts of the Global Church. The participants of the Initiative exchanged ideas on the development of the church, had common time of prayer and worship during the Consultation .
An important occasion of the XX Partnership Consultation was the transfer of Eurasia Partnership Coordinator position from Mel Munchinsky to Jonathan Pak, who is already the Partnership Coordinator for Central Asia. Officially, Jonathan Pak will start the ministry from January 1, 2020, until this date Mel Munchinsky will hold the post. The occasion was celebrated according to Ukrainian and Russian traditions with bread and salt during a national evening at the Festival .
The next two days, from August 16 to August 18, the participants plunged into the joyful celebration! The Festival dedicated to the 130th Anniversary of Methodism in Eurasia was a logical continuation of the Initiative. A significant part of the time at the festival was devoted to the history of the development of Methodism in Eurasia, starting from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and ending with the history of the revival of the movement in the 90s of the last century. Each story became a unique testimony about God’s work through ministers and missionaries of the Methodist church in Eurasia at different time periods. The program was supplemented by sections where participants discussed “ideal” mission, descipleship, church and society relations; participated in creative workshops; enjoyed evenings of Ukrainian and International cultures .
“I’ve especially remembered the performance of our Ukrainian friends. Their songs have touched my heart … Of course, the performance of our Russian artists from the Methodist Church was also impressive. Their song “Выйду ночью в поле с конем” (“I will go out in the field with a horse at night”) took me to the endless fields of the Stavropol lands, where the stars at night seem very close and remind us of God’s plan for all of us .
“What is this song about?” My American friend asked me. “Uhh ….” I thought and listening to the words of the song told him from my heart in English: “I walk with my horse, we see stars and endless fields. I love Russia”. After that I realized that our songs could not be translated. They are like the festival where you need to be in person and listen in the original in order to experience such love,” shared Bishop Eduard Khegay in social networks posts @bishop.eduard.khegay
The Initiative and the Festival have become the unique events that will long be remembered by the participants: despite everything we all are united and connected in the Body of Christ – and it is impossible to break this connection .
Lera Chudinova, Katya Kim
Photo by Ullas Tankler, Dmitry Blinov
More photos https://yadi.sk/d/ioTdnDyxOTY9mA