The United Methodist Church released encouraging reports on its ministry to the states of the former Soviet Union.
In his report of church activities for 2003, Bishop Ruediger Minor of Moscow said each of the four regional conferences of Eurasia is molding into its own character and spirituality.
"Each of the new conferences is developing its own character, mood and spirituality," Minor said. "We have enjoyed the new relationship with people and groups at the meetings of these annual conferences."
Several of the districts within the provinces have even accepted female superintendents.
These women, along with their colleagues in local churches, are well accepted, he said. "Even Baptists and Pentecostals in the local settings are beginning to accept them as colleagues."
Last year, the Southern Conference celebrated the registration of the United Methodist Church by the Ukrainian government and welcomed the churches of Transcarpathia into the Ukraine District. The Hungarian Conference has nurtured these churches during the past 12 years.
Minor also boasted of the foundation of two churches and two Bible study groups in Kazakhstan, part of the Eastern Conference and the second largest country in his mission field.
With substantial support from Germany and a partner U.S. conference, the United Methodist Church in Samara dedicated a new church building. United Methodists in the region also acquired a retreat center near Voronezh, currently under renovation, which will be used both for children and youth camps and church seminars and meetings.
"The whole church in the Eurasia Area is deeply grateful to the children in Germany and conferences in the U.S. for this touchable sign of love," Minor said. "It is my personal hope that this place will also become an international center for Methodist events and meetings in Eastern Europe."
For 2004, Minor, the current president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, said he hopes to continue to raise general church awareness of the Eurasia Area and the various ministry programs in Russia.
Currently, Russia alone had 5,000 members and probationary members to the United Methodist Church.