The ESUMC is located in the 15th District in Vienna, which has the highest density of refugees in the city and is one of the poorest areas in Austria.
This is a district of many languages and many faiths, including Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian, Moslem, and, in fact, a new Buddhist temple in the next block.
In an effort to be a ministry presence in our unique community, we have partnered with the Grimmgasse Refugee House and with the local Vienna Social Work office, both of which are literally around the corner from us.
At the Grimmgasse House, refugees from many lands wait literally for years for the possibility of permanent visas or Austrian citizenship. While they wait, they are often not legally allowed to work, so providing for themselves and their families becomes a critical issue. We try to help with additional funding for educational programs, supplies to set up functional households for newcomers, and clothing for children, especially those who have come from warmer countries to colder Vienna. We also try to build an awareness and understanding for refugees in Vienna waiting and trying to start a new and better life. (A recent UNHCR information campaign in Austria illustrates this perfectly - see photo).
In our district there is much need. Though Vienna’s social work system is highly effective, often people fall outside the guidelines or need things the city cannot provide. We now work with the local office to make sure those who come to us for help (almost always immigrants, largely single mothers) also receive the aid they are eligible for in the government systems.
Every year ESUMC sets aside in our budget money for Missions. Last year and so far this year, the need for Local Missions has claimed the lion’s share of this money. This money goes to church members and others in need of help with food, rent, utility bills, etc. These funds are often supplemented by occasional fund raisers and special offerings.
We also support foreign missions here in Europe through our United Methodist Mission Europa (2011 Project book).
Some of the project we have supported include:
EASTERN- AND CENTRAL EUROPE: Theological Study Program, Graz/Waiern to train pastors for Eastern and Central European Methodist Churches
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN SERBIA
Due to the collapse of Serbia’s economy, the UMC there must be heavily supported, and even then, pastors there earn only minimum wage. Pastoral support,
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN BULGARIA
The UMC in formerly communist Bulgaria is growing by leaps and bounds, but outside support helps with pastors’ salaries and work with children and youth. John Wesley Center for Children and Youth, Dobric, Bulgaria
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN ALBANIA
Church Planting and Youth Work in Albania. Although the Methodist Church worked in Albania for many years prior to Communism, we were forced into inactivity during communist rule. The first UMC in Albania since then was established in Bishnica in 1992, and UMC work has grown steadily. Albania is essentially a third-world country and a new mission field for the UMC in Europe.