Strengthening and expanding the mission, and contributing to societal transformation.
Describe the need affecting community
• There is a need of covenantal communities who share a common history and hold a common vision for the future. • There is a need of leaders who are willing to take over responsibility for the churches and for their transformational role in the Albanian society. • There is a need of people who are involved in social activities to help the wounded society to recover and to be able to move into the future. These social activities include youth projects, work projects, community and agricultural projects, etc.
How will this Advance project help to address the need?
The United Methodist Church in Albania is a relatively young Church in a country with atheistic background, which roots in a strong communism before the 1990s. Actually the society is struggling with many social, political and economic problems. As UMC in Albania we see our mission in changing this society by putting Christian values into action – both in our churches and beyond. Faith-sharing, diagonal, and income-generating ministries are all parts of this mission. Currently, there are three local churches in an urban setting (Tirana, Elbasan, Pogradec) and one remote, rural preaching place in the Mokra mountains. These are places where we try to change our small world in our daily lives, by living as disciples of Jesus and by making new disciples. We are very grateful that we are not alone in this mission, and it is a great support and encouragement to know that the UMC Albania is not functioning as an independent church in a small country, but that we are part of the worldwide UMC. One of our current priorities is to build sustainable structures (with lay leaders and future pastors who are right now in their theological studies). In regard to this task, the UMC in Albania needs connections with the UMC in other parts of the world in order to exchange experiences and information. We are grateful that the In Mission Together program provides us with such inspiring, encouraging, and empowering connections.
Describe the primary goal of the project
• Strengthening the existing churches in urban areas and reaching out to new places (which will most likely be located in urban areas, as well, given the migration from rural to urban areas) ? church growth. • Making the current diaconal ministries sustainable (e.g. ministries with people with special needs, agricultural projects, income-generating projects) and being open to appropriately respond to new needs of the Albanian society (e.g. educational project for young women) diaconal work. • Identifying and equipping leaders for the local churches in Albania leadership development.