This Sunday, May 24, we will take a special love offering on behalf of Kryzstof Kopacz, pastor of our sister church in Ilawa, Poland - to help with his medical bills. I asked Marion Sayger if she would share a few words about "Pastor Kris."
Krzysztof Kopacz, whom we all know as Pastor Kris, is an affable fellow who works tirelessly to make the lives of those around him better. He is a Polish Methodist minister with a two-point charge consisting of a congregation in Ilawa and a congregation in Siemiany, about 30km away.
He used to (and maybe still does) talk to businesses in town trying to get them to donate to various ministries. He has a passion for ministry and wants to have a program for recovering alcoholics and their families. He founded the Ilawa Methodist English School with Lincoln Sayger as its first instructor, along with a Polish teacher for the younger classes.
He has organized several summer English camps, as well. Pastor Kris has a wife, Zofia, and two daughters, Julia and Wiktoria. The parsonage in Ilawa was originally a zipper factory, built under the communist regime. It is three stories high and houses the parsonage, the guestrooms where individual volunteers (IVs) stay, a small fellowship room, and the classrooms for the school. It sits about 20 feet from the water's edge on Lake Jeziorak, the longest lake in Poland, and across the street from the high school, a sprawling, split-level building where teams have held language camps in summer (and when there's an IV, for conversational classes) as a supplement to the foreign-language classes offered by the school system. The students are well behaved, and class changes are fairly quiet affairs, with students generally heading
straight to their next classes and waiting quietly outside the door for the teacher to arrive.
Also on the grounds is a chapel (about the size of the Asbury Room), where Sunday services are held. The chapel was a storage shed for the factory, and it was converted to a chapel by the generous efforts of one of the parishioners in Ilawa.
Services in Siemiany are held in the Catholic church, except in winter, when lack of a heating system drives the parishioners into someone's home for meetings. In Ilawa, the congregation congregates on the right side of the chapel, next to the radiators.
Pastor Kris visited Crestview some years ago, and it was shortly after this visit that he attended a wedding in Poland, where he slipped on something and broke his knee. Since this accident, he has been struggling to recover, going through many surgeries. It seems that during the initial operation, blood supply was cut off to his lower leg, and this has caused many problems. Later, he fell off a stair Siemiany and broke his leg in seven places. Fixing these problems has been impaired by weakness in his bones and the high cost of medicine.
The children of his church are recipients of Christmas boxes from Samaritan's Purse (German region). He organizes eccumenical activities with churches in Ilawa, like picnics and programs. When First United Methodist of Crestview was sending IVs, Ilawa was about the same size as Crestview.
Pastor Kris used to be fond of coming into a cold room, commenting that the room was too cold, putting his thumb on the bulb of the thermometer until it rose, and saying, "That's better." The congregation in Ilawa, Poland, is in a covenant relationship with First United Methodist Church of Crestview, Florida. As part of this covenant, we pray for them, send them letters and e-mails, provide a monthly stipend for the ministry there, and they pray for us and send us notes and gifts, and the occasional party in a box.