Rigels Kasmollari (*1984) was one of the first two young men who started their theological studies after the foundation of the first United Methodist congregation in Albania in 1998 (there had been a Methodist presence in Albania in the late 19th century already, which had to be given up after a few decades). He was sent to Graz/Waiern (Austria) – first to learn German, and afterwards to start his theological studies at a Lutheran institution aiming to provide an education, which includes a regular participation in diaconal ministries. To remain «rooted in life» proved to be important after Rigels Kasmollari’s return to Albania.
Rigels Kasmollari is married and father of one boy.
After his studies Rigels Kasmollari began his pastoral ministry in Albania. He quit the journey towards ordained ministry rather soon and started to study law instead. However, he remained faithful with the UMC. He proved to be an important and very committed lay leader as the congregation in Albania’s capital Tirana grew. He continued to preach and to coordinate much of the ministry in Tirana. Additionally, he served as interpreter for many official guests, helped to publish a first Albanian hymn book, and provided leadership to various activities, among others to the annual national family camp.
For several years, he has served as Executive Director of Diakonia Metodiste (the legal entity of the UMC in Albania). Together with other indigenous leaders, he aims to further develop the local churches, and to share the Gospel in a society faced with huge economic and social problems. Thus a holistic ministry makes the church socially relevant.
One of the highlights of the past few years was the baptism of 29 new believers in a municipal theatre in Pogradec. A fourth local church has been opened in 2014.
Wesley’s aim to combine personal and social holiness is put into action in establishing and managing income-generating ministries (e.g. cultivation of sage, common mallow, and fruit trees; sewing project for women) and diaconal ministries (e.g. with children/youth with special needs).
Rigels Kasmollari has proven to be an inspiring and faithful leader in the growing United Methodist ministry in Albania.