Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia
Who is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia and what are its ministries?
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL),
a member of the Lutheran World Federation
(LWF), describes itself as being “committed to the work of the Lord Jesus and exists to proclaim the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins and of the new life which is in Christ Jesus.”
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia currently has 580,000 members and is governed by a Consistory composed of clergy and laity elected by the synod. The Archbishop serves as its president.
The ELCL describes its ministry as such: “Following the example of Jesus who healed the sick and had compassion upon the poor and downtrodden, the ELCL seeks through its diaconical service to help the sick, the poor, and those who live without hope.” The ELCL also nurtures Christian vocation through worship, education, and service.
In 1994, the ELCL created the Diaconate Center to further the church’s social ministry. The Diaconate Center “develops and implements programs and activities of social care, including soup kitchens, support centers for children and families, a Christian hot-line, as well as organizing the training of volunteers for diaconical work in our churches and parishes.” The Diaconate Center also partners with government and non-government organizations.
The ELCL operates two schools educating both laity and clergy for ministry. The Luther Academy educates the ELCL’s pastors, teachers, and musicians. It also provides continuing education opportunities and training for ECLC laity and clergy. The St. Gregors Institute trains laity in the church and specializes in training people for evangelism and mission outreach.How do the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America accompany one another in ministry?
Through the churchwide ELCA Global Mission unit, the ELCA relates to and is in bilateral relationship with over 80 companion churches and institutions. The ELCA Global Mission unit stewards a church-to-church relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia.
This relationship is deepened and extended by the ELCLs relationship, through the ELCA Companion Synods program, with the ELCA North/West Lower Michigan Synod.
Latvia: the context where the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia serves
On November 18, 1991, the Soviet Union recognized Latvia's independence. A member of the United Nations, Latvia is a parliamentary democracy. More than 2.3 million people live in Latvia. The official language is Lettish, while Russian, Lithuanian, and other languages are also spoken. The major religious groups in Latvia include Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Russian Orthodox.
Latvia's transitional economy recovered from the 1998 Russian financial crisis, largely due to the Skele government's budget stringency and a gradual reorientation of exports toward EU countries, lessening Latvia's trade dependency on Russia. The majority of companies, banks, and real estate have been privatized. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization in February 1999. Preparing for EU membership over the next few years continues as a top foreign policy goal. The high current account and internal government deficits remain major concerns. Pollution of the Gulf of Riga and the Daugave River, and contamination of soil and groundwater at military bases are the nation's primary environmental concerns.
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