The Evangelical Association from Kõnigsberg District started evangelistic work in Riga, the capital of Latvia, in 1908, with the establishment of the first church in 1912. From this point, the work developed into the formation of congregations in Kuldiga and Liepaja. German Methodism started work in Riga with the appointment of George R. Durdis in 1910. This led to the establishment of the first Methodist church in Riga 1912. In 1911 the Methodists came into Email with a Moravian Brethren missionary who had founded the congregation in Liepaja, which in turn became a Methodist church. The Baltic countries attained independence after World War I, and the work developed rapidly, with American support.
The Incorporation of the Baltic countries into the Soviet Union after World War II was catastrophic for the Methodist church. Systematic persecution of pastors and congregations, as well as confiscation of buildings destroyed a great deal of the work. In Latvia, a small group of earlier Methodists remained, and in 1991 the Emails led to the reconstruction of the United Methodist Church of Latvia. Since then there has been growth and the operations have spread from the indigenous languages and people to the Russian-speaking population. Latvia UMC has status as District Conference within the Estonia Annual Conference.
The church has good relations with other denominations. The number of membership is growing and the church is happy by the fact that they have a new camp site, Camp Wesley, which was opened last year. Diaconal ministry is an important part of the church’s ministry.
The Methodist movement began at the turn of the 20th century with a spiritual awakening in a German-speaking community in Kaunas. The first Lithuanian-speaking congregation was created in 1923. By the 1939 Baltic and Slavic Conference, Lithuanian Methodism included seven active congregations. Following the Soviet occupation in 1944 all Methodist activity was forcibly stopped, congregations disbanded, and property nationalized.
In 1995 Methodists from Europe and the United States began to assist a small group of surviving Lithuanian Methodists in efforts to reorganize congregations and reclaim property. As of 2005 there are eleven congregations with a total of 485 members and 1,000 persons who participate regularly in Methodist activities. The congregations have active ministries of worship and teaching, feeding ministries, English instruction classes, economic development programs, and a drug and alcohol addiction help center in Birzai.
The churches are currently served by five Lithuanian pastors and five missionaries from Britain Sweden and America.
Lithuania celebrated the 10 years anniversary since the re-opening of the UMC in 2005. Many congregations have seen growth and a number are involved in building projects. Diaconal ministry is an important part of the church’s ministry.