Two visiting bishops to make 175th special
By Wendy Foster For The Sun July 11, 2012 4:40PM
Dr. Patrick Steiff, bishop of Central and Southern Europe for the United Methodist Church. | Submitted by William Denwood
Updated: August 14, 2012 6:13AM
Community United Methodist Church is approaching what William Denwood calls a very “propitious moment.”
During the celebration of the church’s 175th anniversary in Naperville, the church for the first time will host two Methodist bishops: Dr. Patrick Streiff, bishop of Central and Southern Europe, and Bishop Hee-Soo Jung of the Northern Illinois Conference.
Noting that the two milestones are taking place at the same time simultaneously, Denwood said, “The coincidence is incredible. I attribute it to the holy spirit.”
Streiff is traveling the U.S., talking about the importance of financial and mission support for the countries of the former communist world.
“The area Bishop Dr. Patrick Streiff serves is an important mission field. Religion was discouraged or even banned for many years,” said the Rev. Melissa Hood of CUMC.
“This is an important visit because it will strengthen the ties between the United Methodist Church in Northern Illinois and the UM in Central Europe.
“Bishop Streiff is going to share what is happening in his episcopal area and encourage U.S. congregations to get involved in mission partnerships — supporting ministry and outreach in Central Europe.”
Steiff’s area is made up of about 16 countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia. There are about 160 small UMC congregations within these countries.
The UMC presence is “small, but growing, partially through funding of the U.S. and the missions we’ve supported through Southern and Central Europe. It’s great to be a part of that,” Denwood said.
“What’s unique about northern Illinois is that we haven’t had much of a presence in that area in terms of mission. We’ve been more focused on Africa, Central America and the Caribbean.”
Denwood explained the importance of supporting the former communist countries.
“They are benefitting greatly because these people have not heard the gospel,” he said. “In areas such as the Czech Republic, they taught agnosticism since the communists took over in 1948. It’s deep seeded. These people are hearing gospel for the first time.”
On July 22, Streiff will discuss mission at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship.
A family picnic will be at 12:30 p.m. at Naper Settlement. A brief service will follow in the Meeting House, which was CUMC’s original church home from 1841 to 1858. At 9 a.m. July 23, Streiff will conduct a consultation about missions ministry in Europe.
“I hope people from throughout the community will come to hear the bishop speak,” Denwood said.
“As Christians we’re all called to mission. I don’t care if for Czech Republic, or Africa or Asia. We’re all given the command to mission, and we’re supposed to be doing this.”
Send Our Faith story ideas to