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New European bishop takes office

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A UMNS photo by Kathy Noble

Bishop Patrick Streiff receives his episcopal lapel pin from Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher.
May 12, 2006

A UMNS Report
By Joey Butler*

VARNA, Bulgaria (UMNS) — The new bishop of United Methodists in Central and Southern Europe has begun his duties.

Bishop Patrick Streiff, 50, took office May 2 after Bishop Heinrich Bolleter formally retired the day before.

Streiff’s episcopal colleagues, attending the meeting of the Connectional Table in Varna, presented him with his episcopal lapel pin during a welcome breakfast May 1. The Connectional Table is the 60-member forum created by the 2004 General Conference to set and guide the direction of denomination’s mission and ministries.

Elected a bishop by the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe more than a year ago, Streiff was consecrated during an April 17, 2005, service at Bern Cathedral in Switzerland. He has spent the past year as “bishop-elect,” traveling with Bolleter to the annual conferences over which he will preside, and getting familiar with episcopal duties and responsibilities.

“I found it very helpful to travel with Bishop Bolleter and have my ears wide open,” Streiff said. “I had a basic knowledge of the conference, but when you travel there and meet people, you get deeper inside each situation.

“If you look at the conference, it’s probably the most diverse one, with seven annual (regional) conferences, 14 countries, covering former Eastern and Western Europe and North Africa. And everywhere, the Methodist Church is a minority.”

Central conferences are groups of annual (regional) conferences in Africa, Europe and the Philippines.

A native of Switzerland, Streiff received his theological education at the United Methodist Seminary in Reutlingen, Germany, and has a doctorate from the University of Bern. He and his wife, Heidi, are the parents of four children.

Ordained in 1984, he has been the pastor of congregations in Lausanne, Neuchatel, and Biel, Switzerland. He has been in charge of the Methodist Center for Theological Education in French, located in Lausanne, and is also a lecturer on modern church history at the Theological Faculty of the University of Lausanne.

Streiff said he’s excited to assume his role in the episcopacy and to start working on his goals. Developing a continuing education system for pastors is one of those goals.

“With a rapidly changing society and challenges, these pastors need continuing education to get the support they need for their ministry,” he said. “Because I have worked part time as a pastor and part time as a teacher, that is an element which will remain very important for me.”

Countries covered by the United Methodist Church in Central and Southern Europe are Albania, Algeria, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Serbia-Montenegro, Slovak Republic, Switzerland and Tunisia.

*Butler is managing editor of Interpreter, the magazine that highlights mission and ministry in the United Methodist Church.

News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org

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Resources

United Methodist Church in Central and Southern Europe

Council of Bishops