The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) has officially abolished women’s ordination, after a 282-201 synod vote on Friday.
The president of the International Conference of Confessing Christians, Pastor Ulrich Rüß of Hamburg, welcomed the move and said that the synod has withstood “the enormous pressure of the zeitgeist and gender ideology.”
Representatives of other Lutheran churches, such as in northern Germany, had sought to prevent the vote by stating that women’s ordination is an “irrevocable element of the reformed [Protestant] church.” They are planning to cut relations with the Latvian Lutheran church.
Since the establishment of the Republic of Latvia in 1918, the church has accepted consecrations by the Church of Sweden, and so it claims full apostolic succession. The church began ordaining women in 1975, but this was halted in 1993 under the leadership of Archbishop Jānis Vanags. 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.
The ELCL is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches. It is in full fellowship with the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) of the U.S. It has experienced massive growth since the fall of communism.