Re-initiated and new religious movements

One of the first movements to gain a lot of publicity in the late 1980s was the ‘Word of Life’, which got its start mainly among younger members of Baptist and Methodist congregations. The movement soon became independent, in close affiliation with the ‘The Word of Life’ (Livets Ord) charismatic movement in Sweden. The hallmark of ‘The Word of Life’ is their Christian success-theology, according to which God takes care of both material and spiritual needs of believers. Today ‘The Word of Life’ congregations have a membership of about one thousand.

Since regaining independence and moving towards an open society in the 1990s, changes have occurred in religious life in Estonia. After fifty years of Soviet rule, churches and other religious organisations can again participate in public life. Several religious movements, which were previously banned, have restarted their activities. Among these are the Jehovah Witnesses, the Taara-believers, the Moravian Brothers, and the Salvation Army. During the last decade several religious movements new to Estonia have arrived as well.

‘The Word of Life’ is just one example of the new religious groups in the 1980s and 1990s in Estonia. The religious awakening of this period is characterised mainly by the spread of new, charismatic-Pentecostal movements. According to the 1934 census, 191 people considered themselves Pentecostal. Now the membership of the Estonian Christian Pentecostal Church (ECPC; founded in 1991), according to their official records, is about 3500, and the ECPC is but one of the organisations to unite Pentecostal congregations.

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