The Central and Southern Europe Central Conference has its roots in the turbulent times before and after World War II. The Geneva area, formed in 1936, was elevated to a Central Conference and elected its own bishop in 1954. Since then, the Central Conference was a bridge-builder between east and west and south. In the present history of Europe, we uphold the connectional principle as a continuing task. Together, we are ready to face the challenges of the future. The Central and Southern Europe Central Conference is composed of United Methodism in Albania, Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Tunisia.
Beginning in Zagreb 1923, various missionary initiatives worked to build Methodist congregations in Croatia. This work was carried out in the Serbo-Croat language, in contrast to the Vojvodina region (now part of Serbia), where there were many thriving German-speaking and Hungarian-speaking congregations at the beginning of the 20th century. The missionary efforts in Croatia were, however, not particularly successful, and were eventually discontinued. On the other hand, the Methodist Church maintained various congregations in Istria (e.g. in Pula), which belonged to Italy. But when Istria became part of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in 1947, this work, too, was discontinued. In the nineties, UMCOR, the relief agency of the worldwide UMC, requested the United Methodist Bishop for Croatia to send a pastor to the war-damaged country, taking care of the many local workers. In 1995 a native Croatian who had studied in Germany and his wife moved to Split, Croatia. A cooperation with UMCOR could never be achieved, but in Split, they began to approach people with a message of hope and with deeds of love. Through their efforts, and often through seemingly coincidental encounters, a network of relationships sprouted. From this, a small congregation developed. Still, in an environment that is almost exclusively Roman Catholic, missionary work was very difficult, and in spite of the tireless efforts of the leaders, the work remained small. After many conversations it was finally decided to discontinue the congregational work of Split UMC in October 2010, which means that there is no official congregational work in Croatia anymore.
In 1920, missionaries from the US began their work in the then combined state of Czechoslovakia. They organized revival meetings, distributed Bibles and helped people still suffering from the consequences of the First World War. In the following years many local churches were established – first in what is now the Czech Republic, later in what is now the Slovak Republic. The Church grew rapidly but also experienced politically and financially difficult times. Today the UMC is very mission-oriented; this is clearly seen in its evangelistic programs and the varied activities for children and youth. The social services for mothers and their children, for people with special needs, for drug or alcohol dependent persons, for prisoners and those on the parole are another priority of the church work. This work lends credibility to the Gospel message, and through it, people find a new outlook on their lives, and get ready to share the love, which they themselves have received. The UMC in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia is organized in a cross-border Annual Conference with two districts.