The Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church is one of the largest churches in Latvia and the Baltic States, with nearly 300 congregations throughout Latvia. Serving as a culture-forming element, it is a national church that has been an important institution within Latvia. One of the key challenges for the church today is how to be a community-forming force.
The church consists of three dioceses and 16 deaneries and is served by 140 ordained pastors and 10 evangelists. Of the 2.3 million Latvians, 430,000 claim Lutheran as their religion, with about 43,000 actively participating in congregations.
As a fellow member of the Lutheran World Federation, they consider the Lutheran Confession a fair view of the explanation of the word of God. During the formation of the Church, Swedish and German church traditions left the biggest impression. Under communist Russia rule, they experienced persecution and oppression for 50 years. This persecution left a deep wound, but also provided a unique experience which strengthened their faith.
The Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church’s mission is to fulfill the mission of Christ, bringing Good News to all. By being the presence of Christ in today’s society, they serve as a place where people hear, see, meet, and experience God.
Our partnership with the Latvian church began in 2006 when then Bishop Hansen agreed to add them to our stable of companion relationships. It has not been an easy relationship for a number of reasons, one of them being key theological differences between us. Nevertheless, we have made efforts to strengthen the ties between us as best we can.
Since the beginning of the partnership, three delegations from our synod have gone to Latvia to gain a better understanding of their church. Officials from the Latvian church have been present at two synod assemblies, most recently in 2013 when Bishop and Mrs. Bruvers were our guests. In addition, we have underwritten the cost of four young adults to serve as counselors with Living Water Ministries. It is this connection that creates the strongest ties to the church in Latvia.
Though is Latvian, the webpage of the church, www.lelb.lv, is filled with good information about their ministry. A webpage translator such as google translate turns the site into passable English.