In 1920, missionaries from the US-based Methodist Episcopal Church, South began their work in Czechoslovakia. They organized evangelization meetings, distributed Bibles, and provided emergency services to the people, who were still suffering from the consequences of the First World War. This work led to the founding of various congregations and to the birth of the UMC in Czechoslovakia. In the early years, the Church grew rapidly. Later, the young Church experienced very difficult years, at first in a financial sense, and then for political reasons. Yet in spite of persecution and oppression by the state, from restriction of activities to the arrest of pastors, rays of hope always managed to shine through.
At the end of 1989, the political changes in Eastern Europe suddenly offered many new opportunities for Christian service in a highly secularized society, and the UMC was still there, with renewed missionary zeal that soon led to the founding and growth of new congregations. For the most part, the new members were young people who were hearing the message of the Gospel for the first time, and who with their enthusiasm brought a strong new dynamic into the Church.
The political separation of the country in 1993 and subsequent founding of the Czech and Slovak Republics did not separate the Annual Conference. The UMC in these countries has undergone structural adaptations, but is still organized as an annual conference with two districts.
The growing congregations in the Slovak Republic are confronted with many social challenges. The fact that the country joined the EU in May 2004 has not changed this situation. But these needs are viewed as an opportunity to spread God’s love. Because of this, they often lead to new dedication to the Kingdom of God and to programs which also try to alleviate the material needs of the people. For example, one emphasis of the UMC in the Slovak Republic is the work with the Romani minority, who live in the eastern part of the country as poor and underprivileged outcasts, without hope of improving their condition. The Romani people receive not only clothing, furniture, and household utensils, but also attention, unconditional acceptance, and educational assistance as a basis for improving their own future. Other areas of emphasis include support for radio evangelization programs and inter-church cooperation, such as the theological program supported by several Christian Churches and groups at the university in Banska Bystrica.
For more information about the World Methodist Council and how your donations can help further our mission, please visit our donations page.