Country Profile

Latvia

Mischa Markow was the first to preach in what is presently Latvia. Markow registered with the district court in October 1903 and then preached to Germans in the city of Riga, which was then part of the Russian Empire.

However, when he was summoned to court and asked to explain what he was doing in Riga, he chose to comply with instructions from President Francis M. Lyman of the European Mission and leave the country, rather than face the possibility of exile in Siberia. No missionary work was done in Latvia because of religious intolerance, world wars, and Soviet occupation until after 1991 when Latvia gained its independence from the Soviet Union.

Recent missionary work in Latvia began in June 1992 with the arrival of four missionaries serving under the direction of the Russia St. Petersburg Mission President Charles H. Creel: Dale Franklin, Dennon Ison, Matthew H. Lyman, and Michael G. Van Patten. They were followed a week later by a missionary couple, Boris A. and Liselotte Schiel. Boris Schiel was a native Latvian who left Latvia during World War II, and joined the Church in Germany in 1954, and moved to the United States.

The first convert in Latvia, Gunars Kavals, was baptized in July 1992. Prior to this, a Latvian couple living and studying in Moscow, Russia, Gvido and Velga Senkans, joined the Church. Shortly thereafter, they returned to Latvia to help build the Church in their native land.

The Latvia Riga Mission, created in July 1993, included Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and later for a brief time, Belarus. In July 2002, the mission was changed to the Baltic Mission, but continued to be headquartered in Riga, Latvia.

The first branch (a small congregation) in Latvia was organized in Riga in May 1993. A short time later, in October 1993, the branch was divided and Russian and Latvian-speaking branches were organized. The branches were officially registered in Latvia on February 28, 1996.

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Elena Nechiporova

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