The Latvian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of East England was established on 20 July 1948. Until 15 July 1951 the congregation was led by its first chairperson, Martiņš Rozentāls. Martiņš Rozentāls was followed by Kārlis Zuika, who held this position until 15 August 1954. From 15 August 1954 to 18 June 1972, Professor Arvīds Apinis took on the chairman’s responsibilities. Since then, the chairperson has been Prof. Dr. Reinhards Vītols.
In its early years, the congregation consisted of 8 church groups, each with its own elected chairperson and council : in Ashbourn, Bedford, Corby, Derby, Mansfield, Nottingham, Peterborough and Sibson. Today there are still active church groups in Bedford, Corby, Derby and Nottingham. All the church groups take up offerings and collect church membership dues, which are passed on to the congregation’s treasurer, but each church group manages its own financial affairs and does its own book-keeping, which is checked by an auditing commission appointed by the congregation’s council.
The Rev. Arvīds Dzenītis served as pastor of the congregation from the day that it was established until 1 October 1977. In his day, the congregation built a hall for itself in Corby, which at first was used for church services. The church hall was consecrated on 8 June 1958. Corby’s English-speaking congregation (St.Paul’s) had a church built and consecrated on 4 April 1964. From that day onwards, our congregation’s church hall was rebuilt to serve the community’s various needs.
In 1977 the Rev. Arvīds Dzenītis retired on his pension and moved to live in Wales. On 18 September 1977, the induction of the Rev. Gunārs Abakuks took place in the congregation of East England. On 9 October 1982, the Rev.Gunārs Abakuks moved to the USA,where he is working as a pastor in St.Paul’s Latvian Lutheran church in Minneapolis.
After preliminary agreement with the leadership of the Midlands congregation, the congregation of East England invited the Rev. Juris Jurģis to be their pastor. The Rev. Juris Jurģis began to work with the congregation on 1 January 1983, while at the same time working as pastor of the Midlands congregation. In 1995, the Synod elected the Rev. Juris Jurģis as Dean and thus he also became the leading pastor of our Church in Great Britain. He carried out his duties as Dean admirably until the Synod of 2007, which chose the Rev.Andris Abakuks to take over the responsibilities of Dean and leading pastor.
The Corby church group, despite their diligent care, found they could no longer maintain and administer their church hall and, as a result, the congregation’s leadership had to part with the hall in July 1995, though very sadly and after a hard struggle.
Dean Juris Jurģis, on reaching the age of 80, wished to begin a well-deserved retirement in May 2007. However, this wish was granted him only a year later, when on 1 May 2008, the Rev. Viesturs Vāvere came to work as pastor of the congregation.