Kalamazoo Latvian 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.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus”
Philippians 2: 1-5
News and Announcements
On the evening of July 8, 2019, a fire destroyed our beloved house of worship that had been built by Latvian community members. A part of the congregation’s heart also burned that night. However, despite all of the difficulties, the congregation continues its work by gathering in the Kalamazoo Latvian center. In December 2019 the previous church was demolished and removed. In February 2020 the congregation voted at the annual congregational meeting to build a new, smaller church that reflects the current congregation’s needs. At the moment the congregation is in discussions with an architect to transform this vision into reality.
Today, on December 1, 2020 we are starting building our new church.
The present Latvian Evangelical Lutheran United Church was founded when two other older Kalamazoo Latvian churches joined and pooled their assets in 1995. United congregation celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year.
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 but the church has begun to hold one service each month in English.