Vilnius, Lithuania. In 15th of July 2008 Lithuanian parliament granted to the Seventh-day Adventist church the state-recognized status of the religious community.
Lithuanian law concerning the religious communities divides them into traditional, state-recognized and other registered religious communities. The Adventist Church applied to Lithuanian parliament for state-recognized status in 2003. The Lithuanian parliament considered the request twice, first time postponing the decision. Two months after the first hearing of the request, with a few corrections, it was presented for an additional hearing. This time it was approved by a majority, with three members of the parliament abstaining.
“This is an important and significant event for the Seventh-day Adventist church in Lithuania”, said Bertold Hibner, President of the Adventist Church in Lithuania. “State recognition for the Seventh-day Adventist church in Lithuania means that its contribution to public life and culture is recognized and appreciated together with other churches that have deep historical roots. It means that Adventist church is recognized as a church that has established its own name and identity in society.
“On this occasion I would like to thank everyone who has contributed [to] this historical moment I’d like to thank every church member in Lithuania that witnessed with their Christian life in order to establish a good name of our church in society. I’d like to thank the leaders of the Trans-European Division, The Baltic Union of Seventh-day Adventists and especially its President Valdis Zilgalvis, whose help and participation tremendously contributed to the process. Our Lord has bestowed a great gift upon us. I hope that the church will see it as a strong commission to serve and proclaim to the community the good news of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Church started its mission in Lithuania back in the 19th century. The first group of believers was established in 1919 and worked unhindered until the Second World War. During the Soviet occupation, Church activities in Lithuania were very restricted. Since the restoration of independence, the Church was once again registered in 1995 and immediately started preparing documents so that the Seventh-day Adventist church in Lithuania would be granted the state-recognized status of a religious community. The Adventist church in Lithuania unites about 1000 church members.
M. Kucinskas / G. Bukalders / TED News