Latvian Lutheran church makes Swede a bishop

Take note – story published 7 years ago

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) has consecrated a new archbishop of Liepaja - a Swedish priest who is a noted opponent of female ordination.

"The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) has consecrated as bishop a Swedish theologian previously barred from ordination in Sweden for being too Lutheran," says a conservative Lutheran website in the US, Scandinavia House Fort Wayne.

"The Reverend Hans Jönsson, 48, was consecrated Saturday (August 6) at the cathedral in Riga to serve as bishop of Liepaja Diocese in southwestern Latvia." 

The website says it has a mission to reintroduce Lutheran Christianity to Scandinavia (operating out of the United States). Scandinavia has become  "probably the most secularized region of the Western world. Spiritually, Scandinavians have become 'the people that dwell in darkness'," warns the group.

Jönsson was a member of a Swedish group called the 'Church Coalition for The Bible and Confessions' after being refused ordination by the Church of Sweden.

The Coalition "was formed in the context of the debate over women’s ordination, which its members viewed as clearly contradicting Scripture" says the website and later seems to suggest that the ordination of women was a Soviet initiative, saying "In June, the ELCL amended its constitution to reverse a policy imposed during the Soviet domination that opened ordained ministry to women."

As previously reported by LSM, since the June ruling which formally closed the door to the possibility of female ordination, even after Riga Archbishop Janis Vanags has refused to ordain women for many years, divisions inside the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia have come to the fore, particularly in Liepaja, where one congregation has announced plans to break away from the church.

Coincidentally, Vanags was himself ordained in 1993 by Swedish bishop Henrik Svenungsson.

The main website of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Latvia as yet makes no mention of the ordination having taken place, though it does note the departure of the previous Bishop of Liepaja, Pavils Bruvers on July 31 and prior to that briefly invited people to attend the consecration of the new bishop.

The Scandinavia House Fort Wayne also claimed the consecration of the new bishop was "broadcast in its entirety by Latvian national television" though the schedules show no such broadcast taking place on August 6 or 7.

However, someone was clearly taking notice as Jönsson's own Swedish-language Wikipedia entry was quickly updated to take note of his new status as a bishop.

Identical text regarding the consecration was also posted on the website of the International Lutheran Council, which says it represents "an unconditional commitment to the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and infallible Word of God."

Coincidentally on August 12 the magazine Kas Jauns quoted Archbishop Vanags in an interview with the Russian-language Vesti Segodnya journal saying that allowing the ordination of women would be a first step towards the recognition of same-sex marriages.

"The method that allowed the Western churches to bless same-sex couples, came as a result of them previously allowing women to be ordained," he said.



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