"We Promote Growth!" The 2024 Annual Con­fer­ence of the UMC in Austria


Simone Viljoen, ESUMC's Lay Delegate to the Annual Conference, offers this review of the recent gathering of United Methodist leaders in Graz.

From 30 May through 2 June, ESUMC Church Council chairperson Doreen Ighama, Pastor John, and I attended the United Methodist Church in Austria Annual Conference, hosted by the congregation in Graz. The theme of this year’s conference was, “We celebrate the love of God, therefore we promote growth.” 

During the conference we listened to and discussed various reports regarding the work of the UMC in Austria over the past year. Highlights of the ministry of each congregation were offered; during this time, the recent decision by the ESUMC Church Council to increase our apportionment payments received a round of applause from the conference delegates. This decision was an important step towards our shared goal of increasing the cooperation between ESUMC and our fellow UMC congregations in Austria, and was greatly appreciated by all. I would like to extend a thank you to our congregation and our finance committee for this important step.

On the final day of conferencing, delegates discussed and adopted a new way for the UMC in Austria to work going forward, with an intention of saving resources and being more responsive to ministry opportunities. This new structure is called “Das Netzwerk christliche Weg- und Lerngemeinschaft” ("The Christian Way and Learning Community Network") and is made up of six individuals representing different areas:

- Children and youth work (Pastor Martin Obermeir-Siegrist, Linz and Ried)

- Laity (Conference Lay Leader Maria Sonnleithner)

- Clergy (Superintendent Pastor Stefan Schröckenfuchs)

- Creation care (ESUMC Lay Delegate Simone Viljoen)

- Education (Pastor Dorothee Büürma, Salzburg)

- Internationalism and diversity (Pastor John Calhoun, ESUMC)

On behalf of this new leadership network (pictured below, during the installation ceremony), I appreciate your prayers, and welcome your questions or comments. Thank you! 

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