Smiltene, Latvia – On Sabbath, 13th September, a new church building was dedicated in Smiltene, a city close to the eastern border with Belorussia where the history of Adventism is partly tragic, but ultimately reassuring.
The dedication service was conducted with participation of about 100 church members, leaders of the Conference, Union and Division, pastors Viesturs Rekis, Valdis Zilgalvis and Bertil Wiklander. Special guests were leaders of other Christian churches in the town of Smiltene. The new church building was financed by the local church, the Latvian Conference and a substantial grant from the Trans-European Division. It is a separate building in a strategic, central position and the love and dedication of the church members in preparing the building is evidenced everywhere.
The first Seventh-day Adventist church was organised in 1929. Before the world war, in 1937, however, the Latvian government decided to protect the national religious heritage by making a law that prohibited church organisations with fewer members than 50. The Adventist church was therefore disbanded and members travelled a long distance to neighbouring churches with more than 50 members. In the Communist era, 1944-1991, many Adventists suffered persecution for their faithfulness to God. In 1994, however, the church was re-established with 16 members. Later on, evangelistic campaigns were held and the church grew to about 70 members. In 2006, the current property was purchased and the church was built by its members.
Today, the church congregation is led by retired pastor Arijs Glazers. The church is run by its members, young and old. Pastor Glazers has succeeded in making the Adventist Church a highly respected and loved place of refuge in the town. All representatives of other churches praised the Adventist presence in the town and testified to an appreciation of the Adventist church that resembles what was said about the first Christians: “They praised God and enjoyed the favour of all the people”.
The Trans-European Division President, Dr Bertil Wiklander, who preached and dedicated the new church said: “I have been enormously encouraged by what I have seen and experienced here. The deep spiritual fellowship in the congregation and the popularity of the Adventist church in this town is a wonderful testimony to God. I am grateful that I have been part of this event that has brought glory to God.”
TED Staff/TED News