Jan. 13, 2005
|Web-only image courtesy of GBHEM
A praise band opens European EXPLORATION 2004 singing songs in German and English.
Germany (UMNS) — Young United Methodists from Central Europe gathered
in late 2004 to discern God’s call for their lives.
Methodists, ages 16 to 26, gathered in November for European
Exploration 2004, a weekend event modeled after the biennial U.S.
Exploration events that the denomination’s Board of Higher Education and
Ministry has sponsored for the past 12 years.
European gathering, sponsored by the denomination’s central (regional)
conferences in Europe, offered the nearly 45 participants an opportunity
to look at using faith in daily life, no matter what profession they
choose. Event leaders — in the plenary session, workshops, small-group
discussions and worship — represented a variety of vocational paths.
Deaconesses led a session that opened interest in the areas of lay
ministry and women in ministry.
the very first session, which was led by a lively praise band, a spirit
of enthusiasm and focused interest in the topic was evident," said the
Rev. Sharon Rubey, a Board of Higher Education and Ministry staff member
who attended the Exploration event.
participants, who came from Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic
and Germany, sang energetically, listened intently and responded
passionately," she said.
experienced a firsthand introduction to the faith of young people in
Europe even before the gathering’s opening session. During a three-hour
trip from the Reutlingen Theological Seminary in Germany, she became
acquainted with Tabea Muënz, a German high school senior who later
served as her interpreter during the event.
was impressed by her degree of involvement and interest in matters of
faith," Rubey said. "We had good conversations about how she envisioned
possibilities for her future."
participants demonstrated a level of sincere inquiry," she added. "This
introduction to what the church can mean in their lives is particularly
significant to the United Methodist Church because it allows a more
focused approach to helping young European members discern their
Rev. Heinrich Meinhardt, a United Methodist pastor from Berlin, was
instrumental in planning the European event. Meinhardt, a former member
of the Board of Higher Education and Ministry, took the idea to his home
country after observing preparations for the U.S. Exploration event,
normally held in the fall.
said he was encouraged by the turnout. "Considering the relatively
small United Methodist constituency in Central Europe, the event reached
out to many," he said. Meinhardt also noted that 12 percent to 15
percent of participants had attended a similar event in 2002, organized
in response to a severe clergy shortage in Europe.
attendance almost doubled to 85 with the inclusion of program leaders
and representatives of annual conferences, central conferences,
Reutlingen Theological Seminary, the United Methodist youth and student
organization, and the Deaconess Societies. Visitors included Rubey and
Blanches de Paula, a professor at the Methodist Theological Seminary in
Sao Paulo, Brazil.
participants and leaders are convinced that we need to repeat the
European Exploration event regularly," Meinhardt said. The next event is
proposed for 2006.
Exploration 2004 was organized under the leadership of United Methodist
Bishops Walter Klaiber of Frankfurt, who led the design team, and
Heinrich Bolleter of Zurich. The United Methodist Board of Higher
Education and Ministry provided financial support.
For more information on discerning God’s call, go online to www.IsGodCallingYou.org or to www.gbhem.org/exploration, or contact Rubey at email@example.com.
Hiers, executive director of the Office of Interpretation for the
United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, provided the
information for this report.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org