Archbishop Vanags wants his successor to be someone who understands modern times and people better

  • 2023-12-12
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Archbishop Janis Vanags, the long-standing leader of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church (LELC) who is going to retire soon, would like his successor to be someone with a better understanding of the modern times and people, Vanags said in an interview on Latvian Radio. 

The archbishop said that he represents a generation that was born in the Soviet times and was part of the Awakening movement, but that he was not so familiar with younger people, especially since he has not led a congregation for the past 30 years. 

"I think that a practically minded pastor who has been serving in a good, vibrant congregation, met with people of various generations, knows modern-time people better than I do," Vanags said, adding that he will not try to influence his successor to follow in his footsteps and implement the plans he has set in motion.

Vanags refrained from answering the question who he would like to see as the next LELBC archbishop, but noted that during his time in office he has welcomed many good pastors into the church ministry who could certainly do no worse than him.

Asked whether he would be happy to see Assistant Bishop Rinalds Grants of the Archdiocese of Riga, as the next LELC Archbishop, Vanags replied that Grants could certainly be one of the candidates, and a well-prepared one at that.

As reported, Archbishop Vanags has decided to retire soon, which means that the church will have to elect a new leader.

Vanags has been leading LELC for the past three decades. According to the LELC Constitution, the archbishop can resign on reaching the age of 65 years, but is obliged to stand down once he has reached the age of 70. Vanags was born on May 25, 1958 and is 65 years old.

Vanags intends to lead the church until the upcoming LELC Synod. Previously, Vanags told Latvian Radio that he had been on a lengthy leave - from March 1 to October 1 - "improving health" and that assistant bishop Rinalds Grants had successfully stood in during the archbishops absence.

Vanags became the leader of LELC at the age of 34 following his predecessor Archbishop Karlis Gailitis' tragic death in a car crash in the fall of 1992. Vanags was elected LELC bishop on January 26, 1883.

In the beginning, Vanags was the only LELB bishop, but now the church has three bishops, elected by the Synod, the church's highest decision-making institution which assembles at least once in four years.

According to Latvijas Avize, Vanags has positioned himself as a conservative theologian and LELC has the reputation as one of the most conservative Lutheran churches in the world. Under Vanags' leadership, LELC stopped ordaining women as pastors and a ban on the ordination of women was inscribed in the LELC Constitution.