Yelena Kitayeva

The North West Russia Annual Conference took place near Saint Petersburg in June. For two and a half days we were solving important issues of our congregations’ lives, worshiping God and praying together.

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It’s been a second year in a row, that we have a group discussion of ministers’ reports and other documents; that helps us spare more time for prayer gatherings, worship and personal talks. But, obviously, this way of doing things demands additional efforts and preparation on the part of AC Council members. It usually goes like this: all the Conference delegates split into three groups in advance, each group having a coordinator. The coordinators get preliminary training. The guests of the Conference on their own choose the group to join, depending on what issues and documents they what to discuss.

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The documents are also divided into three parts beforehand, the issues to be discussed by all the delegates, as well as the documents to be voted on, each discussion group having them. Thus, each guest and delegate is to participate in the group discussion, the group leaders or representatives are to report about the results at the AC plenary session, the decisions to be written down by the Conference secretary into the Conference Journal. As the two years’ experience shows, this form disciplines the delegates and increases their responsibility to prepare themselves properly for the AC: with each delegate working through the reports in advance (for this reason they are normally sent out 2 weeks before the AC starts).

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The Annual Conference of North West Russia is willing to share with brothers and sisters their experience of organizing the work with the documents in a more dynamic way, and has some ideas how to help all the clergy and lay people become aware of the essence of all the discussed issues.
This year within the framework of the preparation for the 125th anniversary of Russia’s UMC our pastors made short reports about the missionaries and Methodist leaders, who once became role-models of serving Christ and people, who were the image of Christ in England, Africa, the Far East of Russia and Saint-Petersburg. During the worship services a worship band was leading all the participants in singing Wesleyan hymnals.

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The theme of lay leaders’ discussion was “The role of each church member in the congregation’s ministry”, “The Methodist traditions in ministry, which we could use in the future”. For this purpose we addressed the urgent challenges that had been set in Lay Leader’s Report at the Central Conference 2012.
Besides dealing with administrative, economical and organizing tasks, which define our ministry’s direction for the coming year, and evaluating our work in the past year, during the whole AC we pay a special attention to the spiritual part of our holy conferencing and always keep in mind the fact that we’re all brothers and sisters and “it’s good and pleasant (for us) to dwell together”. That’s why, as it regularly goes, this year we’ve had a fellowship time, when we simply played , took part in the contests, shared our gifts and talents with our family in Christ. What a blessed time it was!

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Here is a feedback from the AC delegate Natalia Ilyushonok: «The thing I liked about the AC was a structured planning. The reports were sent in advance, the discussion held in groups. I would add that prayers and worship were abundant too. I liked the creative way the lay leaders’ discussion was presented – we were making a collage, and I would remember this for a long time. I was inspired a lot».

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North West Russia AC Council member
Yelena Kitayeva
Pics: North West Russia AC

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Bishop Eduard Khegay highly estimated the North West Russia Annual Conference: «This was the best prepared Conference in Eurasia UMC. I was inspired with the worship a lot. Combining The School of Evangelism together with the AC reminds me of our key priorities. We are called to bring the Gospel to people even in hard times. I’m thankful to the AC Council for its dynamic work throughout the year. I’m also happy that the Conference has enough funds in the budget to support missions and pastors».