In 1927 the Lithuanian Mission Field was registered with the government and began official evangelism. The Mission headquarters were in Kaunas with members in several other cities as well. Before WW II the Mission owned some buildings and flats to house its operation, but what happened to them is unknown. After WW II a small building with a flat and meeting hall was purchased for Mission to use. Its usefulness was cut short however, because in 1956 the Soviet government closed the church and took ownership the property. Sustained by God’s grace, members continued to gather in homes for worship in Kaunas and Siaulai. Pastor Kantauciunas flat in Kaunas and a flat in Siauliai owned by Pastor Virbickas and his daughter served the church during the Soviet occupation. Most of the church members who remained faithful belonged to one of these two congregations.
After Lithuania regained its independence, evangelistic seminars were held, both by local pastors and by American evangelists, in many cities across Lithuania, which resulted in many baptisms. On June 9-11, 1994, representatives from approximately 10 congregations gathered in Kaunas to reorganise the Lithuanian Mission Field. The Lithuanian Mission Field was Officially registered with Minister of Justice on June 28, 1996. Mission administrators and members alike recognised the need for building to use it as a base for evangelism, and flat was rented to fulfil this need. When the contract expired, the owner decided not to renew the contract, and the Mission was again without a building.
The search for a permanent evangelistic centre had begun in 1996 but without success. Many options were evaluated but nothing suitable was found. Now the need was very pressing and the search was intensified. The Ministerial Secretary of Lithuanian Mission, Pastor Kevin Page, looked at all available real estate agent listings, as well as private sales, and brought several possibilities to the Mission administrators for evaluation. However, none of the buildings found during six months of intense searching were such as to meet the Mission’s needs.
In God’s time, He had led Pastor K. Page to a building that seemed to fulfil all of the Mission’s requirements. After the building was approved by the Mission administration Valdis Zilgalvis, Baltic Union President, and Graham Barham, Trans-European Division Treasurer, evaluated and approved the purchase of the building. The proposed purchase was also approved by James Huzzey, TED Sabbath School Director, who approved the funds for the purchase from the 3 quarter of 1997, 13 Sabbath offering.
Bertold Hibner, Secretary of the Lithuanian Mission Field, prepared all of the purchase documents, co-ordinated the delivery of the money for the purchase, and signed the documents at the notary to complete the purchase.
The members of all churches in the Lithuanian Mission Field are very pleased to finally have a permanent Mission office building, but the Kaunas members are the happiest, since they will be using the building as their worship hall.
The new Lithuanian Mission Office is located only 50 meters from Taikos avenue, a major street in Kaunas, so public transport is very close. The building’s central location allows people from all over Kaunas to easily attend meetings and seminars held in it, fulfilling its primary purpose as an evangelistic centre.
From the outside, one sees an attractive 3 story building near a private hospital, living houses, and some small shops. The full basement and attic are not readily apparent.
The basement holds the heating system, 3 rooms and a swimming pool suitable for baptisms. The first floor holds 2 meeting halls, 2 rooms and bathroom. The second floor has 2 rooms suitable for the Mission Administration use, along with a kitchen, bathroom, and small meeting hall. The third floor will house the Kaunas church and Mission departments in its rooms. Two or three additional rooms will be in the attic. Overall, the building is well suited to fulfil a variety of purposes which include:
- Evangelistic centre
- Kaunas congregation church
- Hall for midweek
- Administration building for all of the Lithuanian Mission Field’s departments
- Publishing House
Some reconstruction will be necessary to enhance the building. An interior wall will be moved to widen the sanctuary, and the ceiling will be raised to give the sanctuary a more open feel. The modifications are quite minor considering many important functions this building already can fulfil.
The members and administration of the Lithuanian Mission Field would like to express their thanks to all those who helped to make this purchase possible. Adventists from all around the world participated through their 13 Sabbath offering, to TED and Baltic Union Conference who’s leaders gave their guidance in the building selection, and to prayer partners around the world who helped through their prayers and encouragement. A heartfelt thanks to all!
Lithuanian Mission Field Secretary