United Methodism Growing in Lithuania and Latvia

Since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the restoration of United Methodism in Latvia and Lithuania in the 1990s, membership and church attendance for the United Methodist Churches there have continued to increase, according to a member of the Executive Committee of the World Methodist Council.

In a report released by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, Executive Committee member Dr. William K. Quick reported that the reestablished United Methodist Churches in Latvia and Lithuania continue to grow numerically and to expand their social ministries despite the financial ‘squeeze’ caused by their nations’ entry into the European Economic Community and the decline of the American dollar.

"At the end of 2004, almost 4,000 persons were connected to the 25 United Methodist congregations in the two countries," said Quick, who also serves as coordinator of the mission board's Partner Church Ministry for Latvia and Lithuania.

Quick also noted that Estonia, the neighboring Baltic state and the only country in the former Soviet Union where Methodism continued under communism and survived, currently reports 29 local churches.

In the 1940s, Methodist Churches in Latvia and Lithuania were closed and properties confiscated by the Communists. Following the fall of the Iron Curtain, United Methodism was restored in Latvia in 1991 and in Lithuania in 1995.

The 10th anniversary of the re-opening of United Methodism will be marked by a special celebration at the Sanciai Church in Kaunas on Aug. 27, 2005.