Methodism in Estonia began in 1907 through two lay preachers Vassili Täht and Karl Kuum who started preaching on the island Saaremaa. During that time Dr. George A. Simons from the USA led the work in St. Petersburg.
The first congregation was founded in Estonia in 1910 and two years later the first church was built in Kuressaare on Saaremaa. From 1911 to 1920 the Methodist work in Estonia was a part of the Russian Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1921 the Baltic and Slavic Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was founded with headquarters in Riga, Latvia. In 1924 the Mission Conference was turned into Annual Conference with 46 local churches, 29 pastors, and 1639 full members in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
In 1940 the Baltic countries became parts of the Soviet Union. During World War II the people and Methodist work suffered great losses. Thanks to God the Methodist Church in Estonia survived the Soviet period (in Latvia and Lithuania the Methodist Church virtually disappeared). After regaining our independence in 1991 the Methodist church had 17 local churches.
In January 2004 they have 28 congregations with total membership about 1800, many of them in new places and newly built churches. The church has 28 active and 4 retired pastors. The church is very active in outreach work (e.g. organizing summer camps, publishing a magazine "Koduteel" and Estonian "Upper Room" edition) and runs social projects (e.g. soup kitchens and children's Care Center "Lighthouse"). It has its own theological seminary with over 160 students, many of whom are from other denominations.
The Methodist Church holds membership in the Estonian Council of Churches and the Estonian Evangelical Alliance.
They have a vision that Methodist Church in Estonia will be a growing and vital body of Christ who according to the Great Commission will lead new people into the Kingdom of God. Therefore their priority is to teach, train and lead new Christians to proclaim the Gospel.
A Brief History of the TUMC
If you were traveling to Tallinn by train in 1922, you would have seen a golden hued steeple highlighting the silhouette of the city. This steeple, which graced a spacious church building reconstructed from a former cabbage storehouse, was designed by well-known arhitect Eugen Habermann.
The building, known by local people as Lilienthal Church or Veerenni Church, was consecrated on October 19, 1913. Owned by a private church member, Eduard Lilienthal, the church was soon given away to a local businessman to pay off Lilienthal's personal debt of 40,000 Estonian crowns. Shortly thereafter, the church was rented to the Methodists.
The First Tallinn Congregation of the Episcopal Methodist Church in Estonia (EMCE) was established on March 3, 1922. Early members of the church were converts from the Methodist revivals in Ahrensburg (nowadays Kuressaare), Estonia, and Saint Petersburg, Russia. The founders of the congregation were Rev. Martin Prikask, first Superintendent of EMCE, Dr. George A. Simons, Superintendent of the Baltic and Slavic Mission Conference, and Dr. Vladimir Rafalovsky.
In the beginning, worship services were held in the hall of Tallinn Technical School on Pikk Street. Later rooms were acquired on Suur Pärnu Road.
In 1926, Rev. Jaan Puskay was appointed as pastor of the first Tallinn congregation. After negotiations with businessman G. Tombach, the building owner; Dr. R.J. Wade, the church bishop; and the church board, an agreement was reached concerning the purchase of Veerenni church. The opening worship service of Tallinn Methodist Church was held on Easter Sunday, March 24, 1929. The engraved words Soli Deo Gloria (To God be the glory) shone as a beautiful motto on a silver plate on the church facade. The church became Methodist property sometime after November 21, 1930.
During the night of March 9, 1944, all was suddenly lost when the Soviet Red Eagles bombed Tallinn. All that was left standing of the beautiful 1500 seat Veerenni St. Church were a few ruins and burned trees. The only item saved was one trumpet stop - a small piece of a once magnificient 800-pipe organ. This stop was saved only because it had been taken to Tallinn's Holy Ghost Lutheran Church and installed in their organ before bombing. The motto "Soli Deo Gloria" is still heard each time their organ plays, as if ignoring the past pain and suffering.
At the same time the first congregation was started (1922), a second congregation was organized for work with Russians and Germans in Tallinn. Under the leadership of Rev. Adalgoth von Seck, the second congregation gathered at the Suur Pärnu meeting rooms and later moved to Kopli, a suburb of Tallinn, mainly for Estonian work.
On January 27, 1935 the Bethlehem Methodist Church in Kopli was consecrated. Services were held there until July 9, 1950, when it was seized by Soviet authorities and an army radio station was set up there. In 1991 the building was demolished without permission from the owners.
After losing two sanctuaries, the Tallinn Methodist congregations were able to rent the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Mere Boulevard beginning July 16, 1950.
It will continue ...