Two lay preachers brought Methodism to Saaremaa Island in 1907, leading to the establishment of the first congregation in 1910. Two years later, the first church building was erected in Kuressaare on the island. Until 1921, when the Baltic and Slavic Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in Riga, Latvia, Estonia was part of the Russian Methodist Mission. In 1924 the Mission Conference was turned into the Annual Conference with 46 local churches, 29 pastors, and 1,639 full members in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Methodist work suffered greatly when the Baltic countries became part of the Soviet Union in 1940, and by the time Estonia gained its independence in 1991, there were only 17 local Methodist churches.
That number has been steadily increasing, with membership reaching pre-World War II numbers. The Methodist Church in Estonia is very active in outreach work, which includes publishing Christian literature, organizing summer camps, and supporting soup kitchens and a children’s care center. It has its own theological seminary with over 160 students, many of whom are from other denominations. The Methodist Church holds membership in the Estonian Council of Churches and the Estonian Evangelical Alliance.
Global Ministries is partnering through active and continuing communication with the leaders of the Estonia United Methodist Church. There are two Nationals-in-Mission, one serving as a youth director and a children’s ministry director.
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