True Lithuania

Minor Christian Faiths in Lithuania

In addition to the traditional Christian communities, there are numerous smaller ones, consisting of 0,5% of the population (12 000). Jehovah Witnesses boasts the largest congregation with ~3000 followers. Pentecostals come second with some 1850, Baptists 1350, Tikėjimo žodis 1000, Charismatic church 950, Seventh Day Adventists 900, Church of Christ 500, New Apostle Church 420, Methodists 360, LDS 130 followers. Furthermore, some 1200 are non-denominational protestants and 1300 are non-denominational Christians.

Despite some of these faiths reaching Lithuania in the early 20th century, they were largely uprooted by the Soviet regime. Therefore what exists now is mainly a heritage of the early 1990s when various missionaries came to Lithuania and converted people who were largely unused both to missionary activity and religious freedom. For instance, many people of Elektrėnai (a Soviet-built town that had no church building in the early 1990s) did not differentiate the missionaries of the New Apostle Church from the Catholic clergy.

In Vilnius there exist Mormon (LDS), New Apostle Church and Tikėjimo žodis church buildings/meetinghouses all built in the late 1990s. Main new religious movements also own churches in Kaunas, Klaipėda, and a few towns while in the rest they preach in rented halls.

Baptist and Methodist denominations own 19th-century churches in Klaipėda and Kaunas respectively but their fate was just like that of their congregations. Curbed by the Soviet Union, they were reborn only in the 1990s.

The minor Christian denominations largely drew members from those who (or whose parents) had abandoned the Christian faith as a result of Soviet atheist policies. As many such irreligious people belonged to Russian and Russophone minorities, a disproportional number of the followers of "minor Christian faiths" are now ethnic Russians and Russophones. Therefore, relatively many prayer meetings are conducted in Russian and some entire churches are Russian-speaking. The majority of such churches are, however, mostly Lithuanian.

Many minor Christian communities are partly funded by their richer counterparts in the West. "Tikėjimo žodis" is the only significant Lithuanian-originated Christian church but it has also been founded and expanded in the 1990s.

Jehovah Witnesses Lithuanian headquarters in Giraitė suburb near Kaunas. Like most buildings of the new Western faiths, it is extensive and modern yet modest in design. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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  1. Tolerant, Nice and true article. I’m local so I know from inside.

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