A Tale of Two Churches

Dec 2, 2023 | Lithuania, Romania | 0 comments

A Tale of Two Churches

Rodney Sexton – Beccles, UK

Two countries – Lithuania and Romania. Two places – the city of Plungė and the village of Bazna. Two churches – Plungė Evangelical Church and Christian Life Fellowship. One month – November. Heather and I had the privilege of being with Edgaras and Nijole Untulis in Plungė at the beginning of the month and I was with longstanding friends in Bazna at the end of the month. There are so many differences and yet so much is the same.

Plungė, Lithuania, is a city in an ex-communist (USSR) state, with beautiful squares, a wonderful park and a small Word and Spirit church, faithfully witnessing for Jesus over many years. What an enriching, yet challenging time we had! At the Friday evening house meeting we discussed hot-topic social issues and the Christian response to them. On Saturday, at a small conference of five or six churches, in the town of Šilutė, I spoke on what is, and what is not, the church. The warmth of their welcome was wonderful. On Sunday we set out a vision for the local church from 1 Corinthians 12. We had positive discussions over the meal that followed. It was great to meet again a Dutch couple who have been living in the area for many years, and a Ukrainian pastor and his wife who have settled there. Good friendships are being formed.

The town of Plunge and worship at Edgaras and Nijole’s church.

Bazna, Romania, is a village in an ex-communist state, slowly hauling itself into the 21st century, with an old fortress Evangelical Church, an ornate Orthodox Church, and old German (Saxon) and Romanian houses. Here a Word and Spirit Church has for 20 years drawn people from the village and beyond, challenging both Protestant and Orthodox traditions. Wednesday saw me spending time with one of the elders and his family. Thursday included a visit to a Roma village where Ionatan (the former leader of CLF) and Diana have an amazing ministry – visiting, speaking, encouraging, and seeing the sick healed. Friday meant time with another elder’s family and two well-attended church sessions on who we are in Christ. I spent all day Saturday with the elders, and on Sunday two services and time with the third elder. Phew! But so worthwhile.

The village of Bazna and Sami Boancas, one of the elders in the Bazna church, leading worship

A major point from each visit, though I could say more 🙂

Plungė: Although the town is not one of the old Hanseatic League cities, the church draws a few people from Klaipėda, which was in the League under its German name of Memel. Heather and I stayed two nights in a themed hotel based on Hanseatic League cities. I remember some time ago there was a prophetic word about churches being established in those cities. All of this, and much else, causes me to think that our growing connection with this region of Lithuania is no accident but part of God’s wider purposes for his church.

Bazna: The church has recently been greatly impacted by teaching on the so-called tripartite nature of human beings – body, soul, and spirit. Leaving to one side the complex debate to be had around this topic, the issue has highlighted the role of elders as those who teach sound doctrine and protect the people from error. This topic then broadened out into the ministry of elders more generally (a good theme to be visited) particularly as the number of elders has recently been reduced from four to three. The importance of grace-filled, godly leadership in the local church is vital to its health and growth.

Two countries, two places, two local churches – but one people of God! What a wonderful family we belong to!


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