New European bishop
Bishop Patrick Streiff
prepares to take office
by Joey Butler
The United Methodist Church’s Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe will soon have a new episcopal leader.
The Rev. Patrick Streiff, 49, was consecrated during an April 17, 2005, service at Bern Cathedral in Switzerland, but will not take office until Bishop Heinrich Bolleter formally retires in May.
Streiff has spent the past year as “bishop-elect,” traveling with Bolleter to the annual conferences he will preside over.
“I found it very helpful to travel with Bishop Bolleter and have my ears wide open,” Streiff said. “I had a basic knowledge of the conference, but when you travel there and meet people, you get deeper inside each situation.”
The Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe includes 14 countries in Europe and North Africa.
“If you look at the conference, it’s probably the most diverse one, with seven annual conferences, 14 countries, covering former Eastern and Western Europe and North Africa. And everywhere, the Methodist Church is a minority.”
A native of Switzerland, Streiff received his theological education at the United Methodist Seminary in Reutlingen, Germany, and has a doctorate from the University of Bern. He and his wife, Heidi, are the parents of four children.
Ordained to the ministry in 1984, he has been the pastor of congregations in Lausanne, Neuchatel, and Biel, Switzerland. He has been in charge of the Methodist Center for Theological Education in French, located in Lausanne, and is also a lecturer on modern church history at the Theological Faculty of the University of Lausanne.
Streiff said he’s excited to assume his role in the episcopacy and to start working on his goals. Developing a continuing education system for pastors is one of those goals.
“With a rapidly changing society and challenges, these pastors need continuing education to get the support they need for their ministry,” he said. “Because I have worked part time as a pastor and part time as a teacher, that is an element which will remain very important for me.”
—Joey Butler, managing editor, Interpreter.
Linda Green, United Methodist News Service writer,
contributed to this report.