Latvians in Ireland get Lutheran minister

The first service led by a new Latvian minister in Ireland is scheduled Jan. 6 (Zvaigznes diena) in Dublin, reports the Web site of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church (Latviešu Evaņģēliski Luteriskā Baznīca, or LELB).

The Rev. Uģis Brūklene is expected to arrive in Ireland on Jan. 5 to become the first permanant minister for the growing Latvian community in Ireland. Brūklene is being sent by the church in response to a request last year from Latvian Lutherans in Dublin. In a letter to church leaders, the Latvians in Ireland said that for some Latvian Lutherans a critical period had arrived, for they had been without regular religious services for five years.

The pastor is expected to serve in Ireland for at least a year, the church Web site reported. For the first three months, he will get to now the congregation and local conditions. He then is to briefly return to Latvia to give an update to LELB leadership.

The Latvian Lutheran group also is working to become registered as an official LELB congregation.

The first church service ever for Latvians in Ireland was held in December 2004. The service was led by the Rev. Elīza Zikmane, pastor of the United London Latvian Lutheran Church. Zikmane has held other services in Ireland and in other locations where new Latvian immigrants have arrived in recent years, such as Guernsey in the Channel Islands. The Dublin group, which has held services once a month, also has been visited by guest ministers from Latvia. On average, 30-60 people attend the services, the LELB Web site reported.

The Jan. 6 service by Brūklene is scheduled at 14:00 hours in St. Finian’s Church, 24 Adelaide Road, Dublin.

Brūklene was born in 1974 and ordained in 2001, according to LELB. He has held the position of dean for the Piltene district in western Latvia and has served as pastor to congregations in Usma and Ugāle. Brūklene received his religious education at the University of Latvia and the LELB Luther Academy. He is married and has two children.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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