In the 1960s, when the Second Vatican Council and the Moscow Patriarchate invited Christian churches to develop closer ecumenical relationships, the first signs of ecumenism appeared in Lithuania. In 1965, the first ecumenical service was held in the Šilutė Lutheran Church, which was attended by representatives of four denominations. Such ecumenical relations soon became a common phenomenon in Soviet Lithuania. The article analyzes the origins of the ecumenical movement and its development in Lithuania, as well as the reaction of the Commissioner of the Council of Religious Affairs in Moscow for Lithuania to this new religious phenomenon.
In 1942 the Lithuanian Reformed Collegium resurrected the Lutheran ecumenical hymnal project which the Lutherans had dropped after the repatriation of 1941. The Lithuanian book appeared in an abridged version entitled: Evangelikų Giesmynas su Maldomis (Evangelical Hymnal with Prayers) later that year. By special permission of the Lutheran consistory, only the Kaunas Lutheran congregation used this hymnal. In 1943 the Lutheran pastors established their own hymnal commission to produce a suitable Lutheran hymnal, based on the Pagerintos giesmių knygos (Improved Books of Hymns), the official Lithuanian Lutheran hymnal at that time. The soviet occupation made it impossible to continue the project. The book was not popular in the Reformed Church, especially after the apostasy of Adomas Šernas. It was only in 1986 that it was made the official hymnal of the Lithuanian Reformed Church because copies of the old official hymnal were no longer available.
The Lithuanian Trinitarian formula includes within it the word God. It is supposed that Lithuanians received this parenthesis from the Teutonic Order as early as the Baptism of King Mindaugas. The author of this present study has focused his attention on German liturgical texts used in the Baltic region in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Analysis of these documents indicates that the parenthesis God was included in the Trinitarian formula in almost every German liturgical book, and this suggests that such a formula may well have been used among the Baltic Germans before the Reformation. The author supports the thesis of those scholars who suggest that Lithuanians in the Grand Duchy as well inherited the use of the word God in their formula from the Teutonic Order.
The Teutonic Order in Prussia recognised and acknowledged its responsibility to catechise both the German-speaking colonists and the native population. The Reformation made no radical changes to these requirements, but gave them serious attention. During the 1540s to the 1560s, several Catechisms for the non-German subjects of the Duke of Prussia were prepared and published in Königsberg, including three in the Old Prussian language. The editor of the first and second Old Prussian-language Catechisms published bilingual books, with the German Catechism on the left-hand page, and the same text on the right-hand page in the Old Prussian language. Reinhold Trautmann established that the source of the Decalogue in these books was Luther’s 1531 Small Catechism. However, he had difficulties confirming the sources of the remaining four parts of the Catechism, since he found a number of words and phrases which could not be identified as coming from Luther’s Catechisms. The article elaborates on Trautmann’s thesis that the source of the German Decalogue is Luther’s 1531 Enchiridion. In addition, it argues that the sources of the remaining parts of the Catechism were German-language catechetical and liturgical texts that were circulating in Prussia at that time.