1. Christianity before Reformation. Grand Duke Mindaugas (crowned king 1253; d. 1263), his family, and many of his people were bap. RC 1251. Jagela (Jagello; Jagiello; Jogaila; ca. 13501434; Grand Duke; bap. RC February 15, 1386; m. Jadwiga [Ger.: Hedwig (von Anjou) 1370(1374?)99; queen Poland 138499] February 18, 1386) was crowned king of Poland (including Lith. and Ruthenia) March 4, 1386, as Ladislas II (or V; Ladislaus; Vladislav; Wladislaus; Wladislaw; Wladyslaw). Many other Lithuanians became Christian 1387. Christianization of the country continued under RC influence.
2. Reformation and subsequent history. During the Reformation nearly all Lith. became Protestant. Ev. ideas penetrated the country from Prussia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Switzerland. Among those who helped the ev. cause: Abraomas (Abraham) Kulvietis (ca. 151045; 1st rector of academy at Vilnius) and Martynas Mazvydas (Martin[as] Mosvidius; issued SC 1547). The 1st Lith. Bible tr. (by Jonas Bretkunas; 15361602) remained unpub. The NT was pub. 1701, the whole Bible 1735. In Königsberg (in Prussia; later called Kaliningrad) a sem. for training Lith. Luth. pastors was est.
Lith. came under Russ. control in the 2d and 3d partition of Poland (1793, 1795). The Congress of Vienna recognized the Czar as Grand Duke of Lith. and King of Poland. After the unsuccessful Polish revolution of 186364 Russification was extended to every aspect of pub. life, including worship. RCs were persecuted.
The Lietuvos taryba (Council of Lith.) renounced all previous foreign ties and proclaimed independence 1918. A brief Russ. occupation was followed 191923 by an extensive border dispute with Poland. In 1925 a Prot. theol. faculty was est. in Kaunas; it functioned till 1936. The liturgy of Liths. is that used by E Prussian and Baltic Luths.
The 1st Prot. Conf. of Liths. in exile after WW II met at Hanau, Ger., May 30, 1946. The 1st Lith. Prot. Syn. for W. Ger. met at Lebenstedt, near Brunswick, November 10, 1946, and elected a Lith. Ev. Ch. Council. Since 1948 the Lith. Luth. Ch. Council and the Ref. Ch. of Lith. have maintained a brotherly but separate existence. The Lith. Ev. Luth. Ch. in Exile is a mem. of LWF It published Tiesos Balsas (The Voice of Truth), Evangeliku Ke'ias (The Evangelical Way), and Sandora (Unity).
See also Lutheran Confessions, A 5.
C. R. Jurgela, History of the Lithuanian Nation (New York, 1948); F. W. Pick, The Baltic Nations (London, 1945).
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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