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Organization of the ELCL

According to Lutheran conviction, Christ Jesus willed that his teaching concerning the love of God would continue to the end of time and that his holy sacrifice for the life of the world would be offered to all. For this reason, Jesus established the public ministry of the church so that through its preaching the gospel of Christ might be heard and through the sacraments of baptism and the Holy Supper the sacrifice for sin might be given to those who have faith. In obedience to Christ's command, therefore, the ELCL possesses the public ministry of preaching and the sacraments and offers this ministry to the world and to the church through its ordained ministers and other church workers.

Archbishop and bishops

The diocese bishop is the spiritual leader of the diocese, who in apostolic succession through the laying of hands in accordance with ELCL has received the commission and authority to symbolize, safeguard and sustain the succession of the apostolic faith and ELCL unity, as well as to serve the Great Commission's continuation and the handing on of the office of reconciliation. The diocese bishop is the spiritual leader, counselor and shepherd to the pastors of the diocese. The irrevocable rights and responsibilities of the diocese bishop are to care for ELCL unity, growth in faith and love, so that diocese congregations, in accordance with ELCL teachings, clearly proclaim the Gospel and rightly administer the Sacraments; maintain a living apostolicity in his diocese and rebut false teachings. 

The archbishop is the bishop of the archbiocese of Riga. The specific responsibilities of the archbishop are to represent the ELCL and its unity, to open the synod and chair the cocuncil of bishops, to consecrate bishops, to represent the ELCL in relations with the State, ecumenical and international relations and to speak in the name of the ELCL. 

Bishops and the archbishop have a life-time tenure. Since 1993 the archbishop of Rīga and Latvia has been Jānis Vanags. In June 2007 the ELCL elected two new bishops. Einārs Alpe and Pāvils Brūvers were elected to the diocese of Daugavpils and Liepāja respectively. 


A dean is the immediate supervisor and counselor for the pastors, assistant pastors, non-ordained ministers and congregations. The dean is the representative of the bishop in the deanery. A dean is always an ordained pastor, usually one with significant experience. The ELCL is divided into 16 districts so that the congregations and pastors may better be supervised and administered. 


The pastor is an ELCL minister, who is called and ordained according to ELCL order. The commission of the pastor is to proclaim the Word of God, administer the Sacraments in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and Christ's command, and promote ELCL teachings, as well as giving spiritual leadership to the congregation and oversee the congregation's life. He leads, organizes, plans and motivates the spiritual life of the congregation.

Assistant Pastor

An assistant pastor is an ordained clergy who serves at the disposal of the diocese bishop under the supervision of the Dean of his district. Usually this probationary period is not longer than one year of service. The decision to promote to full pastor is made by the diocese bishop.


A vicar is a church worker (pastor, assistant pastor, evangelist) who is not assigned to any particular congregation but who is available to the deans or to the Consistory for special assignments.

Non-ordained minister

Non-ordained ministers of the ELCL are called pastoral duty executors, and other workers in accordance with Consistory bylaws.

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