The World Is My Parish
Wesley Camp in Latvia represents hopes reborn'
|Wesley Camp attendees string beads to make necklaces. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Thomas)|
Wesley Camp and Retreat Center, the three-year-old retreat center of The United Methodist Church in Latvia, has had a busy summer of Christian witness and fellowship at its facility on the Baltic Sea.
The camp is an international mission project involving United Methodists from Latvia and neighboring Lithuania and annual conferences in the United States and Western Europe through the Latvia Mission Initiative of the General Board of Global Ministries. It is near the city of Liepaja on property that was a farm before the church acquired it in 2004.
The importance of the Latvian United Methodist camp may not be evident to those in places where church camps are common. The facility represents hopes reborn and ministry extended to the most ignored groups in society.
Methodism first came to Latvia in early 1921, quickly grew to 20 congregations, and in 1925 sent its first missionary to India. World War II and the Soviet period reduced the church to a "smoldering wick" that began to glow again when Latvia regained its independence in 1992. Latvia today has 13 United Methodist congregations, 11 that worship in Latvian and two in Russian.
"Wesley Days," the first major summer event, combined morning devotions and fellowship with afternoon physical labor and fellowship. Participants came from all of the Latvian United Methodist congregations and from other countries, said Dan Randall, a United Methodist missionary and ordination candidate who coordinates youth work for the church in Latvia.
Young adults from Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania gathered in mid-July for one of several regional summer conferences of Christians in Action, a European organization of United Methodist youth. Randall's wife, Courtney, also a missionary in the area of Christian education, said that 85 children from Latvia and Lithuania planned to attend camps at Wesley Camp in August.
The Holston, North Alabama and Red Bird Missionary Conferences in the United States and The United Methodist Church in Denmark have been particularly active in providing funds and volunteers for work at Wesley Camp.
Both Wesley Camp and The United Methodist Church in Latvia have new English-language Web sites, www.wesleycamp.net and www.umcinlatvia.org. The Randalls blog at www.randallsreflections.blogspot.com.
--Adapted from General Board of Global Ministries reports.
How to give
Wesley Camp and the Latvia Mission Initiative can be supported through The Advance, the designated mission-giving channel of The United Methodist Church. Wesley Camp is Advance #15160N; the Latvia Mission Initiative is Advance #00235A.
Gifts can be made online at givetomission.org, by phone at (888) 252-6174 or by mail to GCFA Advance, P.O. Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068. Please indicate The Advance project number in the memo line of checks. Checks for projects of The Advance also can be placed in the offering plate of any United Methodist congregation. One hundred percent of each gift goes to the designated ministry.