Latvia: Adventist Church Moving Towards Official Recognition, Church Leader Says

Valdis Zilgalvis, president of the Adventist church in the Baltics. [Photo: Mark Kellner/ANN]

Valdis Zilgalvis, president of the Adventist church in the Baltics. [Photo: Mark Kellner/ANN]

October 11, 2006 Silver Spring, Maryland, United States …. [Mark A. Kellner/ANN] More than a century after the first Seventh-day Adventists began working in the nation, the church in Latvia is on the verge of official recognition as a traditional faith by the government, according to regional church president Valdis Zilgalvis.

The move, contained in legislation which has had the second of three readings in the country’s legislature, known as the Saeima, will make it easier for Adventist congregations and members to practice their faith in the country of 2.25 million people. Latvia, an Eastern European country located between Estonia and Lithuania on the edge of the Baltic Sea, became an independent nation in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Such recognition “makes public relations better, because you are accepted as a church,” Zilgalvis told Adventist News Network in an interview during the 2006 Annual Council at the church’s world headquarters.

Church members will also find it easier to explain their stand for observance of the biblical Sabbath, or Saturday, as a day of rest, both in dealing with employers and in schools, where exams and classes can sometimes be scheduled on the day of worship.

There are 4,003 baptized members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Latvia.

Mark A. Kellner/ANN