Continuing the History of Protestant Education in Lithuania
By Deimantas Karvelis, Historian
Compared to secular education, the system of Christian education has a great number of advantages as well as deep roots in history. The historic background of solid, developed Christian education goes back to the times of the Reformation. It must be mentioned that even before the great Reformation movement, elementary parish schools had been established as early as the 14th century, after the formal establishment of Catholicism. The pre-reformational system of education, however, was not complete and well developed.In 1539 Abraomas Kulvietis, an outstanding Lithuanian Reformer, established a Lutheran school in Vilnius. The school had about 60 pupils, children of noblemen who financed the school. The school had a good curriculum and provided high quality education. It is thought that compared to A. Kulvietis' school, other Lithuanian schools were left far behind it. The Bible study was a priority in the Lutheran school.
In 1542, under the efforts of the Catholic bishop of Vilnius, a decree of religious intolerance was passed and the school was immediately closed. Had the efforts of the local Calvinists to establish the first higher school (prior to the Jesuit academy) proved successful, the Lithuanian Protestants would have completely established and developed the system of education in the 16th century. The Calvinists of Vilnius tried to establish a college in 1567, 1577 and 1588. In 1588, the Calvinistic Synod even appointed a place for the higher school building and salaries for the professors.
Unfortunately, Jesuits reacted to this negatively and through the bishop of Vilnius appealed King Sigmund Vasa III with a request not to grant permission for the Protestants to establish another university in Vilnius.
After the Reformation, from the 17th to the middle of the 20th century, Evangelical Lutherans and Evangelical Reformers were only religious minorities. They had their own schools that were financially supported by the local communities.
It seems that countries where Protestantism is not a dominating religion Protestant schools do not have the attention and financial support of the state. This fact has been observed all through history. The Word Of Faith Elementary Christian School, which was started in 1993, has been continuing the best traditions of protestant education in Lithuania. The school seems to face problems that are very similar to the first Protestant schools back in old times. Why is that? Firstly, it is the only institution of Protestant education in our generation. Secondly, the school faces juridical and financial discrimination from the state institutions. This kind of discrimination is nothing else but the expression of hidden religious prejudice and intolerance. Thirdly, tuition fee forms the main financial source of the school and is paid by the parents of the students.
The Word Of Faith Christian School has a team of young, God-fearing teachers who seek to implement the best pedagogical principles of M. Luther, J. A. Comenius and other outstanding educators of the Reformation, lining those principles up with the tendencies and needs typical for the society of the 20th - 21st century.
In order to reform the spiritual life of the country, a considerable amount of attention should be given to the education of the new generation of Christians. The Word of Faith Christian School, an independent, democratic educational institution based on Biblical principles and Christian values, shall continue to exist for every family in the city of Vilnius and see children, as M. Luther put it, "as ones who have been given by God not just for the sake of pleasure or earthly glory. God has appointed us to raise children to serve Him."
Valdas Statulevicius, Principal