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Latvia Mission Initiative
Under the Soviet Union for 50 years, Latvia declared its independence in 1990. The Baltic nation is one of the least populated countries in the European Union, having 2.217 million people in a landmass of 24,938 square miles.
Historically a predominantly Protestant nation, Latvia experienced the suppression of churches during the Soviet period. The small Latvian Methodist Church was closed, being viewed as an agent of the United States because of ties to American church organizations. In the early 1990s, with the help of Global Ministries and the official recognition of the Estonia Annual Conference, the Latvia United Methodist Church resumed.
The Latvia Initiative is a mature mission in transition toward full participation in the United Methodist connectional system. The plan is to celebrate in 2015 the move from mission initiative to status as a district of the Estonia Annual Conference.
Challenges: Despite overall growth, the church continues financial dependence on partners, a factor slowing self-sufficiency. Local support for pastors’ salaries is difficult to achieve.
Assets: Indigenous pastoral leadership is strong and enhanced by the large number of young pastors and female pastors. Diaconal ministries are creative and strong ties exist between the Latvian church and its partners in Europe and the US. Outreach programs are vibrant and work continues to help congregations develop financial self-sufficiency. A well-functioning organizational structure encourages growth and development.
Goals: Ministry emphases are on evangelism, and on children, youth, and diaconal ministries. A primary goal for the Latvian Methodist Church is to increase the number of churches that are financially independent and to continue Christian Education outreach to local communities.
Statistics: Currently, there are 12 churches and 13 pastors.
In Mission Together Coordinator:
Bishop Christian Alsted
Latvia is a Mission Initiative country. Learn more about Mission Initiatives and how local churches in the US are partnering with these congregations through the In Mission Together program.