Austrian mission congregation contributes to North Alabama tornado recovery

8/30/2011

The English-Speaking United Methodist Church (ESUMC) of Vienna, Austria, is a vibrant urban ministry situated amidst that city's most dense immigrant population in possibly the country's poorest district. The ESUMC congregation is includes individuals from approximately 40 countries. The members of this multi-national, multi-cultural group bring with them not only a common language (English) but a broad spectrum of Christian traditions and a sincere desire to serve and worship Jesus Christ. With an average Sunday morning attendance of more than 100 people (over a third of whom are children and youth), the ESUMC is Austria's largest United Methodist Church.

The majority of ESUMC members are transitional. There are students who are in Vienna for six months to two years; refugees or migrants who may soon move to new homes; embassy workers assigned for two to four years; and business and United Nations workers on short-term contracts. ESUMC also has some international couples who are in Vienna for longer periods and some permanent residents of Austria. Such social dynamics keep the congregation young and vibrant.

The ESUMC is able to work effectively with such a diverse group. Yet, because of the nature of its varied constituencies, this store-front church requires ongoing financial assistance for its ministry. Therefore, since 2006, the North Alabama Conference and Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church have teamed to provide limited financial support to this mission congregation.

The ESUMC has been described as a paradox: a mission congregation in mission to others. While striving to meet the needs of its congregation and local community, ESUMC is also supporting mission projects across Austria and Central Europe through the Central European Conference of the United Methodist Church. This mission congregation also seeks to respond to "back-home" situations identified by its international members. Such situations are typically instances of genuine need because of the personal knowledge of ESUMC members from those countries. Those personal links also contribute to wise stewardship and accountability by the ESUMC of its limited outreach funds.

The mission outreach of this 32-year-old urban mission church have reached out to North America. In late 2005, the ESUMC congregation took up a special offering to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Earlier this year, this outreach-oriented congregation once again took up a special offering for storm victims. This time, those persons for whom prayers and sacrificial gifts were offered were in North Alabama.

On Sunday, June 5, 2011, the ESUMC congregation contributed some 725 Euro -- over $1,000 in U.S. dollars – to the disaster recovery efforts in North Alabama.

The announcement of the final amount was in the ESUMC June-July newsletter : "This conference [the North Alabama Conference] helps support the ESUMC, and we are grateful to give back."

The pastor of the ESUMC is the Rev. Kathy Young. Individuals or churches interested in learning more about the ESUMC are encouraged to contact Rev. Young via e-mail at kyoung.vienna@gmail.com or Dr. Larry Durham of Vestavia Hills UMC by calling (205) 822-7835 or e-mailing LBDBSC63@gmail.com. They may also view the church's Website at www.esumc.at. Those wishing to coordinate contributions to the ESUMC-Vienna within the North Alabama Conference should contact Dr. Durham. Direct contributions to the ESUMC-Vienna may be sent to GBGM's office in New York specifying that they be directed to The Advance, Project #12001A, ESUMC-Vienna, Austria.
 


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