Latvian Pentecostal Church association (LPCA) links its beginnings with the time of The first Republic of Latvia. The Latvian – American Mission Society- established in 1927 by an American missionary James Grevins is considered to be the first Pentecostal Church association in Latvia, officially unifying six congregations. In truth there were almost twice as many of them. Latvian – American Mission Society held church services, special sanctification assemblies, published the magazine “Misionārs” (Missionary) and released many spiritual song compilations.
After Grevins left Latvia in 1930 this association ceased to exist. In early 30’s Jānis Bormanis established an organization ‘’Vasarsvētku blāzma”. Road construction engineer Arvīds Krūmiņš became one of the leaders of the movement. In 1933 Krumins registered Latvian Religious Association of Pentecostal believers in Liepāja regional court, but just after a month the authorities cancelled the registration. In March 1940 the association of the same name registered again. It existed until June, when the Soviets stopped its activities.
After the Second World War, Soviet occupation authorities forced Pentecostal churches to join The Union of Baptist Churches of Latvia, because the national policy was to not officially register Pentecostal congregations. Part of the Pentecostal believers joined the Baptists, but many refused this ‘forced marriage’, for which they were arrested and sent to penalty camps in the far North and Siberia. A time of underground activities had began for the Pentecostal churches of Latvia, which went on till M. Gorbachev’s time of rebuilding and acceptance at the end of the 80’s
In 1984 an unofficial Pentecostal Church association was established in Aizpute. It united almost all Pentecostal churches of Latvia – including both Latvian and Russian congregations. Fricis Ozolinkevičs was elected as the bishop. Church of Jelgava, which unlike the other churches was officially registered, became the unifier of the congregations and the centre of the Pentecostal believers. Through the Church of Jelgava the association managed to publish a song book for Pentecostal churches, perform other activities.
In the midst of the time of Gorbachev’s rebuilding politics an opportunity arose to establish official Pentecostal church organizations. In 1988 the idea of establishing a united USSR Pentecostal church union was expressed. But at that time in Latvia there was a strong breeze of independence and a decision was made to establish the Latvian Pentecostal Church association. Unfortunately, due to differences in tradition and cultural distinctions the Russian congregations of Latvia did not wish to further cooperate with Latvians and established their own association.
In September of 1989 a church congress was convened and an official Latvian Pentecostal Church association (LPCA) was established. It consisted of Pentecostal churches from Aizpute, Jelgava, Talsi (Valdemārpils) and Līvāni. Fricis Ozolinkevičs did not want to remain in the episcopal ministry due to his age. Therefore, his son Jānis Ozolinkevičs was elected as the bishop of the association. Moscow officials did not hurry to approve the registration of such a national association of believers, however, because of the insistence of the Latvian delegation, LPCA was registered on September 10, 1989. It was the first official association of Pentecostal congregations in the post-war years in Latvia and in all of the Soviet Union.
A great success for LPCA in 1989 was to be the first of the dominations to get a permission to officially bring Bibles into Latvia. A request was submitted to the Religious Affairs Committee of the USSR Council of Ministers to permit the import of 25,000 Bibles in Latvian. Pastor Wolfgang V Egert of Hamburg (Germany) Pentecostal Church “Arche” promised to deliver the Bibles. Two consignments were received, distributed not only to Pentecostal, but also to other congregations. All 25 000 bibles were not imported, because the borders were opened and no special permissions were needed.
In 1996 Latvian Pentecostal Church association joined one of the biggest Pentecostal church associations in the world – Church of God. COG is headquartered in Cleveland, Tennessee, United States and it works worldwide – in more than 150 countries. LPCA is a full-fledged member of this organization. The relationship between LPCA and COG is governed by a special agreement. It also contains points specifically for Latvia, for example, it is stipulated that Latvian churches do not have the obligatory foot washing tradition during the sacrament, as it is the case in other COG churches. It is also stipulated that the LPCA’s supreme leader in Latvia is called the bishop, while in other COG churches it is a superintendent. In the past few years, with the support of COG, the LPCA central building in Jelgava was built and the Christian School of Ministry of Latvia was founded. The Church of God also provides other types of spiritual and practical support to the LPCA.
The LPCA considers itself to be a restored rather than a newly established organization. This succession is important, because in the 30’s the bishop of the established association Arvīds Krūmiņš ordained J. Ozolinkevičs for the work of ministry. However, the Russian Pentecostal Church Centre, which was also registered in 1989, began its activities as a new organization.
According to the statutes, the LPCA churches are autonomous – the church association serves to successfully solve organizational and other issues of common work. The bishop of the association has mainly administrative and advisory functions, but his duties include the approval of all-level pastors and ordinance issues. The supreme legislator’s institution is the Congress of the Church, which is held every five years.
When establishing LPCA, one of the main goals was evangelism work and the increase in the number of Pentecostal churches in Latvia, as well as the establishment of theological schools with education in Latvian. Another goal was to achieve that all churches would have their own buildings. Many of these tasks have already been implemented, others are still being worked on. The Pentecostal churches have not yet reached the regions of Latgale and parts of Vidzeme, where the work is planned to be developed in the future.