Congregation splits from Lutheran church over women's ordination

The Liepāja Evangelical Cross Congregation will split from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (LELB) and join the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad (LELBAL) following LELB's last week vote to ban the ordination of women, reported LETA Monday.

Urdze said he found the ban on women's ordination just because they are women unacceptable. 

More than 20 women theologians joined other churches as Archbishop Janis Vanags, the leader of the LELB, has been refusing ordination to women since 1993. Those women who have remained in Latvia could serve as evangelists at best, Urdze said.

"They and the women pastors who were ordained before Vanags was elected Archbishop, have had to live with this negative attitude on the part of some of their colleagues," Urdze said.

The Biblical reasoning behind this ELCL decision is highly questionable, because the quotes from the Bible on which the ban is based can be interpreted very widely, Urdze argued, saying that women had very limited rights at the time when these texts were written.

"Against this backdrop, Jesus' positive attitude to women is surprising," Urdze said.

Last Friday, the LELB Synod voted to amend the constitution of the church by explicitly banning women's ordination.

The Synod passed amendments to the Constitution establishing that only men can receive holy orders with 77% voting for the suggestion, said representatives of the church.

There are two main Lutheran Churches associated with Latvia, with Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia being the oldest and largest, and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad created abroad after World War II. The latter is headed by archbishop Lauma Zušēvica. 

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