Who we are:
The English Speaking United Methodist Church of Vienna is an international congregation of people from many different nations, cultures, and Christian traditions. We are united by our common commitment to Jesus Christ and our use of the English language in worship.
- a place for people to study, worship, and grow spiritually as they seek to be faithful to their Christian commitment while living here in Austria.
- a friendly, caring community.
- help, support and encouragement if you are learning to live in a new cultural setting.
- a chance to feel at home no matter where your home is.
As Methodists, we invite everyone to participate fully in the life of this congregation as we worship, study, and receive the Lord’s Supper together. Whatever your age or interests, we believe you will find both friends and a caring community with us.
How the ESUMC of Vienna began:
Vienna is the home of one of three UN Centers world-wide and a host of international corporations. As the gateway to eastern Europe, it has long been an international city.
In 1978 the Austrian United Methodist Church (Evangelisch-methodistische Kirche) recognized a need to reach out to the then more than 35,000 English-speaking people from many countries who were living and working in Vienna. To help them in this ministry, they asked the Virginia Conference (USA) of the United Methodist Church to send a pastor to begin a new, English-speaking church. On the first Sunday in October, 1978, worship services in English were held under the leadership of the Rev. Lee S. Varner. 45 people attended, including people from Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria, Rhodesia, South Africa, Switzerland, and the US.
The new English-speaking United Methodist Church was formally chartered on February 25, 1979. Lee Varner and his wife, Edith, led the church until his death on August 10, 1980. Edith Varner continued to serve until a new pastor arrived in March 1981. In October of that year, the congregation moved from its original location on Bennogasse to its present location on Sechshauserstrasse, where we now share a building with the German-speaking United Methodist congregation, Wien-Fünfhaus. Pastoral leadership and support for the English-speaking church continued to come from the Virginia Conference until 1988, when responsibility for pastoral supply and support was transferred to the General Board of Global Ministries. The church was then served by UM missionary personnel. In June of 2004, the GBGM, under financial pressure from within, terminated the contract with the ESUMC, and the church, in collaboration with the Evangelisch-methodistische Kirche (the UMC in Austria) and the Central European Conference of the UMC, found its own new pastor and assumed primary fiscal responsibility for pastoral support.
In July of 2014, the GBGM again agreed to fund a pastor for the ESUMC, and in August 2015 the Reverend Matthew Laferty came to the ESUMC from his previous missionary parish in Moscow.
History of our Building
The building occupied by the ESUMC and the Fünfhaus congregations has an interesting history. When it was constructed in 1910, retail shops occupied the ground floor and there were apartments on the upper three floors.
During WWII, the building was used as a shelter for refugees, but after the war, the Austrian Methodist Church purchased the property and added a sanctuary in the back of the building, converting part of its use to a church. In the 1950s, another, smaller building was constructed behind the sanctuary to serve as a dormitory for young women seeking work in Vienna. When this ministry was no longer needed, the building was converted to apartments, three of which are currently parsonages for the pastors of the English-speaking and German-Speaking congregations and the Conference Superintendent of Austria. From 1981 to 1988, the original sanctuary had fallen into such disrepair that both German and English-speaking congregations worshipped on the second floor of the building. In 1988 these congregations pooled their resources, and with help from the Austrian Annual Conference and Advance Special funds, renovated the entire facility. In 1995, the German-speaking congregation expanded their numbers by merging with another Austrian Methodist congregation from another location; this necessitated a second renovation.
The ESUMC is blessed with this historic church building, active and committed lay leadership, and a truly international congregation representing more than 40 countries. We look forward to many more years of service to Vienna and to the world, spreading the message of God’s love and grace in Jesus Christ in a unique situation.
Pastors of ESUMC:
1978-1981 Lee and Edith Varner, Virginia Conference
1981-1987 Paul and Barbara Hanack, Virginia Conference
1987 Bob and Joyce Parker, Virginia Conference
1987-1988 Jim and Helen Dwyer(interim), GBGM missionaries (N.Indiana Conference)
1988-1991 Glenn and Kay Fuller, GBGM missionaries (California/Nevada Conference)
1991-1997 Bill and Sylvia Mooney, GBGM missionaries (Holston Conference)
1997, Bill and Barbara Daniel (interim), GBGM missionaries
1997-2004 Robert and Lillian Hunt, GBGM missionaries (SW Texas Conference)
2004-2011 Laura Trent, Holston Conference
2011-2015 Kathy Young, Yellowstone Conference
2015-Present day Matthew Laferty, East Ohio Conference