ARM Goes to Estonia!
Late last year we accepted the invitation to minister in Estonia in 2011. At this time we expect to do a Lord, Teach Us to Pray (LTUTP) and a Life in the Spirit Experience (LISE) on consecutive weekends. The first event will be September 30 and October 1. The second event will be October 7 and 8.
The Republic of Estonia is located in the Baltic Region of northern Europe. It is bordered by the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Finland, Latvia, and the Russian Federation. It is a democratic parliamentary republic with a population of about 1.4 million. The largest city and the probable location of at least one event is Tallinn. The closest well-known cites are Leningrad and Helsinki. In Standard Time there is a 7 hour differential from the east coast of the USA. The native language is Estonian with about 30% Russian speaking as the result of Soviet occupation (1944 to 1991). English is a prevalent secondary language and is taught in the school system.
Estonia’s constitution provides freedom of religion and separation of church and state. In 2000 nearly ¾ of the population did not admit a specific religious affiliation. At that time there were about 150,000 Lutherans, 140,000 Orthodox Christians, and 5000 Roman Catholics.
“Lead new people into the Kingdom of God with priority to teach, train, and lead new Christians to proclaim the Gospel”
Methodism in Estonia began in 1907. Early in the 20th century the work was part of the Russian Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1924 the annual conference included Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with 46 local churches and 29 pastors. During the Soviet occupation the Methodist Church in Lithuania and Latvia disappeared. When regaining independence in 1991, Estonia had 17 local churches. In 2004, the last year for which I have data, there were 28 congregations with total membership of 1800. There were 28 active pastors. The Baltic Theological Seminary was founded by UM Eddie Fox (World Director of World Methodist Council) and has about 160 students. Current ministry is under the direction of District Superintendent Taavi Hollman who is involved with the planning and scheduling of our ministry there. The other leadership will be provided by Thea Kant who is a member of the Board of Discipleship. Marie Ivanova is a pastor and will be another contact person. A friend of ARM from Brazil is Livia Telles who is currently ministering in Estonia and is providing her personal testimony of ARM ministry. I hope she will be able to remain there for our ministry in the fall.
The vision for the Methodist Church in Estonia is to be a growing and vital body of Christ who will lead new people into the Kingdom of God with priority to teach, train, and lead new Christians to proclaim the Gospel. Specific to ARM ministry the leadership wants their church to be filled, gifted, empowered, and led by the Holy Spirit in our time there.
Ministry in Estonia is being organized by the Estonian Methodist Church Board of Discipleship. Following is the information known at this time:
• Travel will be to Tallinn, Estonia with estimated departure from the USA on September 25 and return from Estonia on October 11 contingent on final schedule and economy of travel
• The first event will be the weekend of September 30 in southern Estonia. This will be a LTUTP and will focus on laity. The leadership has strongly endorsed this ARM ministry for their people
• The second event will be the weekend of October 7 in Tallinn held in the Baltic Theological Seminary. It will be a LISE (the leadership wants the “experience” format)
• We will participate in local church ministry around the country during the week between events
• Praise and Worship will be provided locally, although the leadership would be blessed if an ARM musician were on the team
• Each event will include about 60 participants
• The material has been provided to local leadership for translation. It is likely to be needed in both Estonian and Russian but the cost of translation may not allow both to be done. The event at the seminary will have simultaneous verbal translation. The cost for written and verbal translation will be part of team member cost