Christ UMC Plano: Building A Powerful Partnership

Group in Poland

The Christ UMC team in Warsaw, Poland, with the church's pastor and his wife (far right). Pastor Slawomir Rodaszynski is third from right.

Ongoing partnership with churches in Poland takes on a new dimension amid the violence in Ukraine

Barb Petsel, Michelle and Glen Thornton are lay members of Christ UMC Plano. 

Christ UMC Plano has collaborated with Polish Pastor Slawomir Rodaszynski and his family since our first trip to Poland in 2012. We worked with the In Mission Together part of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) to identify the partnership opportunity, and the relationship formed on that first trip continues to grow to this day. In 10 years, Pastor Slawomir has come to Plano to visit us and we have made four trips to Poland.

Our trips focused on the communities of Miedzyrzecz and Chodiez and two churches over which Pastor Slawomir presided. Each trip consisted of at least a Vacation Bible School and construction work.

In Miedzyrzecz, we remodeled a set of four rooms above the church’s chapel and kitchen. This included adding subfloors, flooring and tiling for a bathroom; installing new flooring throughout; reworking the old mud walls and painting. Upon entering the upstairs, you will see a sign we had made that says, “Upper Room.” These rooms transitioned from uninhabitable to nice, comfortable rooms over our two trips.

Our Chodiez trips involved working on the rooms upstairs also. This work included quite a bit of painting and tiling a bathroom. In both of these communities, we worked hand in hand with Pastor Slawomir and members of his congregation. We laughed, prayed, ate, worked and sweated together, deepening the growing relationship.

montage of work

Barb Petsel, Glen and Michelle Thornton working hard at construction and VBS. 

Over the years, a deep, reciprocal friendship formed between the teams from CUMC and from Pastor Slawomir’s congregations. Many of us have emailed back and forth, and the relationship has become like that of extended family.

Today, the churches in Miedzyrzecz and Chodiez – including individual congregation members – are hosting Ukranian refugees. We feel blessed that spaces we had the privilege of working on are now being used to house Ukrainian refugees.

Our hearts are touched by the work and integrity of Pastor Slawomir and his churches, as they support the refugees coming from Ukraine. We continue to lift the Ukrainians and Poles in our prayers. Some women in our church heard the heartbreaking stories of families escaping to Poland and responded by hand-making stuffed bears, which they mailed to the UMC in Warsaw for the Ukrainian children. To date, CUMC has wired approximately $85,000 to the UMC headquarters in Warsaw. 

Looking back at all of this now, it is obvious to us that God’s mighty hand formed and nourished this relationship, and that God’s plan was much bigger than we realized.

Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2022