Connecting Congregations

Partnering Estonian Methodist Churches with Churches in the United States of America

Background On Partnerships

Why how did this get started and why do we do it?

Different parts of the global church are called to share in the essential task of sharing God’s love in a needy world. To do this effectively, we need to get to know each other and to work together.

No part of the church can do it alone. We are called to work in partnership with others.

Philosophy

Why Connecting Congregations?
We are convinced that mission is more than focusing on the activities of our own local churches or thinking about supporting the work of unknown local churches elsewhere. Today, mission development also means partnership development, and sharing in God’s mission consequently takes us beyond our own boundaries to work together with Christians in other parts of the world. That’s what we would like you to experience by establishing church partnerships.

Purpose

What Purpose does it serve?
Partnerships are meant to inspire local churches to become better equipped to respond to the mission challenges in their own communities and to share in the development and enrichment of God’s mission in the partner churches. By design, our church (Global Methodism) is connectional. By working with people far away who share our faith values and polity we become stronger together. Though far apart, we are better together.

How Do You Get Started?

1

Learn About Estonia

Unfortunately, Estonia is one of the places people often can't find on the globe. Estonian identity and the Methodist Church survived the Soviet occupation (1940-1991) and has seen new life in the years since. Estonia has become a technology powerhouse. They are a member of NATO and the European Union. This Baltic state is regarded as a hidden gem of northern Europe. Check out some recommended reading we've compiled.

2

Get Your Feet Wet

There are many congregations who already share a connection in Estonia and would be happy to share with you how their relationship works. In some cases, there are mission teams from those churches hosting camps, participating in youth activities, vacation bible schools, or working with children's centers. With a little coordination, you could find yourself in Estonia as a part of these mission trips!

3

Make Connections

A partnership isn't something you jump head-long into. Not only does it need to be accepted church-wide and leadership and accountability in place, but you need to become familiar with what opportunities there are to serve and which might align with an existing strong generational cross-section. If you've already gotten your feet wet and feel like you have the appropriate support we suggest you contact us.

4

Walking Together

Once we've connected you to the right Annual Conference leadership and they have made a determination on which congregation or mission you should be connected with soon you will begin a process of listening, discernment, and Prayer. It's important to hear what your connecting congregation or mission is in need of and find solutions and ways to partner that are beneficial to the areas of greatest need, for both teams.

Partnership Frequently Asked Questions

1What is a connecting congregation?
Simply put, connecting congregations are two geographically diverse churches coming together and agreeing to share some main goals and objectives that are mutually beneficial. Some examples include intercessory prayer, mission activities, cultural exchange, and financial partnership.

Prayer
Many Congregations regularly share prayer concerns with one another and distribute to groups or share in corporate worship. FOE offers a shared prayer request message and you can signup for that Here and recieve monthly emails with prayer requests from multiple Estonia Congregations.

Mission Activities
Lots of connecting congregations make trips to Estonia each year. Activities range from joining congregations for activities and worship to working at summer camps for children. We try and keep an updated list of what is going on each year on our New and Updates weblog.

Financial Partnership
See more information in the "What does it cost?" section below.
2How do we overcome a language barrier?
While most Estonian congregations speak Russian or Estonian many of the members will speak English. Regular dialogue helps everyone overcome any awkwardness. In addition, there are fairly useful online translation tools as well.

Communication is very much a visual technique and many social media sites are common in multiple languages. You don't need to necessarily know Estonian or Russian to share a sunset or activities in the life of your church. Instagram and Facebook offer translation features, that are not perfect, but help bridge the divide.
3Does partnership require travel?
Getting someone from Estonia to visit your church or a team of folks traveling to visit your connecting congregation in Estonia is beneficial. Meeting face-to-face and sharing experiences are transformative. There are many "families" that have been created over a few days of fellowship and fun.

Visiting far away places and finding hospitality is one of the best life experiences, but if you're unable to travel the internet has made face-to-face communication a reality for just about everyone through video chat services like Skype (which was created in Estonia).
4What does it cost?
There is no fee or pre-determined expectation on if you will send financial resources to your connecting congregation. The partnerships are not based solely on this and have not been developed with this intention. However, you will see many instances where joyous celebrations exist because a connecting congregation in the US has made a generous gift to a project or goal in Estonia.

Many partners share a desire to support one another and often times that can be financial. Agreeing in advance on donations and what the funds will be used for is critical. Friends of Estonia can help direct you to official channels to transfer funds so that there is accountability and transparency.