Philadelphia Latvian Baptist Youth Society

The organization

The Philadelphia Latvian Baptist Youth Society (Filadelfijas latviešu baptistu jauniešu biedrība) was one of several organizations under the umbrella of the First Lettish Baptist Church in Philadelphia. The society was not unique — even in Latvia, Baptist congregations had youth groups — but it was the largest of its kind in the United States.

The Philadelphia society was founded in 1900. When it celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1940, it was known as the Latvian Baptist Young People's Society. Membership rolls from various years reveal that some participants in the "youth" society stayed active for quite a few years, at times joined by their offspring.

Youth societies also were established in Boston, Chicago, New York and in the Yale colony in Sussex County, Virginia. The societies engaged in various activities, such as maintaining libraries and organizing choirs. The Chicago youth society, for example, was founded in 1905 and by the following year had both a men's and a mixed choir, even though at the time it had only about 20 members.1

The Philadelphia youth society also organized a choir and a library, as well as engaged in outreach. For example, during the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905, it sent money to the Baptist periodical Avots so that copies could be mailed to Latvian soldiers in the czar's army.2


1. J. Šmidts, "No Čikāgas. Ziemeļ-Amerikā," Avots, Nov. 1, 1906, 523.

2. "Vēstulnieks," Avots, April 13, 1905, 128