represents ‘hopes reborn’
LIEPAJA (Latvia) – Wesley Camp and Retreat Centre, the four-year-old retreat centre of The United Methodist Church in Latvia, has had a busy time of Christian witness and fellowship at its facility on the Baltic Sea.
The camp is an international mission project involving United Methodists from Latvia and neighbouring Lithuania and Annual Conferences in the United States and Western Europe through the Latvia Mission Initiative of the General Board of Global Ministries. It is near the city of Liepaja on property that was a farm before the church acquired it in 2004.
The importance of the Latvian United Methodist camp may not be evident to those in places where church camps are common. The facility represents hopes reborn and ministry extended to the most ignored groups in society.
Methodism first came to Latvia in early 1921, quickly grew to 20 congregations, and in 1925 sent its first missionary to India. World War II and the Soviet period reduced the church to a “smoldering wick” that began to glow again when Latvia regained its independence in 1992.
Latvia today has 13 United Methodist congregations, 11 that worship in Latvian and two in Russian.
“Wesley Days”, the first major summer event in 2007, combined morning devotions and fellowship with afternoon physical labour and fellowship. Participants came from all of the Latvian United Methodist congregations and from other countries, said Mr Dan Randall, a United Methodist missionary who coordinates youth work for the church in Latvia.
Young adults from Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania gathered in July last year for one of several regional summer conferences of Christians in Action, a European organisation of United Methodist youth.
The Holston, North Alabama and Red Bird Missionary Conferences in the United States and The United Methodist Church in Denmark have been particularly active in providing funds and volunteers for work at Wesley Camp. – Interpreter, adapted from General Board of Global Ministries reports.