About The Kalamazoo Latvian Evangelical Lutheran United Church
Church mission: Our congregation exists to, through the Word of God, proclaim faith, hope and love, and to share the Christian faith with everyone, who chooses to be in our midst.
Worship Services in Latvian
Sundays at 10:00 am
“How wonderful it is, how pleasant, when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the fragnant anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard, and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing even life forevermore. “
The present Latvian Evangelical Lutheran United Church was founded when two other older Kalamazoo Latvian churches joined and pooled their assets in 1995.
After World War II, the new Latvian emigres who came to Kalamazoo, founded the St. John Evangelical Lutheran Latvian Church on December 1, 1949, with pastor Jānis Turks serving the congregation. Initially, the church services were held in the Kalamazoo Trinity Lutheran Church. Then later the congregation decided to build its own church, and the new church building was dedicated on December 10, 1961. Pastor Turks served the church until his retirement in 1992. Pastor Leons Vīksne then replaced pastor Turks.
On August 12, 1950 another Latvian congregation was born – the Kalamazoo Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church. Pastor Kristaps Hermanis from Grand Rapids served the church until 1951 when pastor Arturs Piebalgs assumed those duties until his retirement in 1985. The church held its services in the Zion Lutheran church until 1965, when the congregation purchased a church building on Portage and Rose streets. Following pastor Piebalgs retirement, pastor Leons Vīksne was called to serve the congregation.
In 1991, pastor Vīksne was serving both Latvian churches. At that time both congregations began merger talks, and on January 1, 1995 the congregations agreed to use the St. John sanctuary for the church services, and sold the other church building. Following the retirement of pastor Vīksne at the end of 2003, pastor Biruta Puiķe was called to serve the congregation, and was the church minister until December 31, 2013. In October 2014, the congregation elected Rev. Aija Graham to serve as the pastor of the congregation, and she began her duties on January 5, 2015.
All Sunday services have always been in Latvian, and continue to be so in the future, with the occasional exceptions for baptism, weddings, funerals or some special church functions. At this time, the congregation does not have sufficient numbers of English only speaking members to warrant regular Sunday services in English.
Latvian Evangelical Lutheran United Church of Kalamazoo Women’s Auxiliary Rules of Operation
All confirmed lady members of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran United Church are members of the Women’s Auxiliary. The Women’s Auxiliary Leadership Group is elected by the members of the Women’s Auxiliary from amongst its membership. The Leadership Group consists of the chair, secretary and treasurer.
The Women’s Auxiliary is a entity of the congregation and works in concert with the church’s minister, Governing Board, the Latvian School, and the Latvian Girl Guide and Latvian Boy Scout organizations. The Chair of the Governing Board and the minister may attend the Women’s Auxiliary meetings.
It is the charge of the Women’s Auxiliary to help advance the spiritual and material goals of the church by organizing fundraising and other activities, looking after the well-being of the congregation’s elderly, making visits to the ill and infirm, as well as engaging in other service activities.
The Women’s Auxilary has sole discretion regarding how it spends its funds. A simple majority is required to adopt resolutions. The Leadership Group Chair calls a meeting of all members of the Women’s Auxiliary for the purposes of electing the Leadership Group. The Leadership Group prepares an annual report of activities. The Women’s Auxiliary books are audited by the Church Audit Committee. The Women’s Auxiliary Rules of Operation are approved by the Church’s Governing Board.
Should the Women’s Auxiliary ever dissolve, all of its documents and assets revert to the Church’s Governing Board.