The beginnings of Christianity in Latvia go back to the end of the 12th century, but during the German military occupation of World War II and communist control from to , oppression of the church was severe. Many Latvians fled, forming churches in exile. Many also abandoned the faith. Religious freedom returned in , but many rural areas are still without Gospel proclamation, and great needs remain for training leaders, both clergy and lay, and for publishing Christian literature. Louis, Mo. Prior to , pastoral students were dependent on the theological faculty of Riga University, a state university.
A crash of thunder split the silence as Indra Skuja knelt to receive the silver cross of Christ around her neck at her ordination. The Rev. Indra Skuja's traditional Latvian first name means "thunder," and her decision to leave her native country to become a Lutheran minister sends a lightning-bolt message to her homeland. Skuja, 32, left Latvia last September because the archbishop there, the Rev. Janis Vanags, would not ordain women. Two small Latvian Lutheran congregations gathered to ordain the new minister April 13 in Willimantic.
Since the establishment of the Republic of Latvia in , the church has accepted consecrations by the Church of Sweden, and so it claims full apostolic succession. He believes that an exclusively all-male ministry corresponds to biblical and apostolic tradition. Vanags is 58, and following Latvian church practice he will be in office until he dies or retires.
Reverend G and Mrs Mabel Stephen, fourth generation Christians, joined her, working together for 14 years. Together they developed an holistic Christian centre with afarm producing all necessary provisions, Homes for children and elderly residents, an elementary school with Mrs Mabel Stephen as principal, a Primary Health care centre and attached compounder pharmacy with Anna Irbe as head nurse and with Outreach, Spiritual, Educational and Special needs work in the surrounding villages. Read more G and Mrs. Mabel Stephen, fourth generation Christians, joined her, working together for 14 years.