From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Methodist church deals with flood aftermath in Milan, Italy

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Tue, 10 Dec 2002 15:12:26 -0600

Dec. 10, 2002  News media contact: Linda Bloom7(212)870-38037New York

By United Methodist News Service

Congregations based at the Methodist church in Milan, Italy, are continuing
to cope with flood damage caused by a Nov. 26 storm.

The underground sanctuary of La Chiesa Evangelical Metodista di Milano filled
with 20 feet of sewer and rainwater after torrential rains created flooding
and mudslides in six regions of northern Italy. Constructed in 1970, the
four-story church building faces Via Porro Lambertenghi.

The church lost the entire contents of the sanctuary, including the organ,
piano, furnishings and Bibles printed in three languages, according to the
Rev. Harold W. "Bill" and Roberta Smith, missionaries assigned there by the
United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Only the 1880 pulpit Bible,
printed in Italian, was salvaged. The wood-paneled sanctuary, which has never
flooded before, also must be cleaned and disinfected.

Until the sanctuary is restored, all services and activities will take place
in the fellowship hall and a conference room on the building's first floor.
The Italian-speaking congregation, led by the Rev. Giovanni Anziani, and the
English-speaking congregation, led by the Rev. Smith, had previously held
bilingual services once a month, but since the flood they have met together
each Sunday. A Korean Presbyterian congregation also worships at the Milan

The flood offers the congregation "a new challenge to explore more deeply the
ideal of worshipping together," the Rev. Smith said. More than 120 people
filled the social hall the first two Sundays following the flood, he

The Smiths, from the Northern Illinois Annual (regional) Conference, are
assigned to the Milan church's intercultural ministry to English speakers.
That 150-member group includes citizens of the United States, the
Philippines, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Pakistan and several European countries.
The church's ministry provides programs for Italy's growing "guest worker"
immigrant population.  

The Milan church is the largest Methodist congregation in Italy and has roots
in both the American and British Methodist mission movements of the 1870s.
The current facility was built as a model for urban ministry, with commercial
and rental space in addition to the sanctuary and public meeting areas.

The Methodist Church in Italy will make a damage assessment before any appeal
for assistance is issued to domestic and overseas church partners, the Rev.
Smith said.

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United Methodist News Service
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