By Urs Schweizer
Sept. 27, 2021 | EŁK, Poland (UM News)
When the Rev. Dariusz Zuber and his wife, Monika, came to Ełk in northeastern Poland in July 2012, they had many dreams. However, the start at their new place of ministry definitely could have been easier.
The church property at Miłości Bożej (God’s Love United Methodist Church) had been neglected for years and was crying out for renewal but, more importantly, the congregation was also yearning for new life. Apart from church services, there had been hardly any activities of late.
While the couple was inspired by the desire to put into practice John Wesley's statement that there is no other gospel than the social gospel, the first years were mainly characterized by renovations, repairs and conversations with people who no longer went to church.
Dariusz Zuber remembers that as a very difficult time for him and his family.
The young pastor had a vision of a church with open doors, open hearts and open minds. He saw a community that was not only committed to the positive spiritual development of people, but that was also socially and culturally engaged, he said. A church that helps shape society and changes a bit of the world. In the life of Jesus, Zuber saw the dawn of a new religious and social reality. ...
But what to do when you have a vision and concrete ideas for action, but when many hands are too weak to work due to age?
“Open up to others!” is how Zuber sums it up.
To implement the ideas, the couple invited not only parishioners, but also nonprofit organizations and municipal institutions — the library, historical museum and city hall.
“In partnership with others, we ‘proclaimed the Kingdom of God’ by organizing charity concerts, courses of the University of the Third Age, film discussion clubs or programs for children and youth,” he said. “Openness to other groups and associations taught us to see good and traces of God's work also in the activity of social activists and their organizations.”
God’s Love United Methodist Church gradually became a place for different people of goodwill who have hopeful ideas and want to realize them in a trustful cooperation. The development of social programs as well as cooperation with other organizations led to the creation, after appropriate reconstruction and renovation work, of very functional spaces for social, cultural and catechetical activities.