Congratulatory speech of Archbishop Jānis Vanags of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, February 9, 2020:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, dear Arri Matveyevich, and of course dear beloved man of God Ivan Sergeyevich,
Our Churches, the Church of Ingria and the Church of Latvia, have been in a very good, cordial, brotherly and sisterly relationship for a long time. Arri Matveyevich and we have done a lot together. And when we heard that Arri Matveyevich was going to retire into well-deserved rest (which I don’t fully believe will work out for him), I wanted to pray for your Church because electing a bishop is always a difficult process. And I congratulate you on electing a new bishop, I want to join in with your choice with my “Axios! Axios!” [Greek: “He is worthy! He is worthy!”] and I hope we continue the wonderful relationship between our Churches, which will further the relationship between our countries and nations.
I think it was St. Ignatius of Antioch who said to his churches that “wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Church.” And therefore, a Church does well if after all the processes, all the elections, and all the thinking, it closes ranks around its bishop and gives him all possible support and help. But this is also a very high responsibility to be an embodiment, a center where the Church sees and feels the presence of Christ. This is what I would like to wish you most of all, dear Ivan Sergeyevich, that people can always see in you the presence of Christ, that they unite themselves around you and not only see the truthfulness of the Christian faith, but also its beauty and love. May God give you every possible blessing and gift for this ministry, may He also continue to strengthen your family. It is a sacrifice for your family to offer you for this service in the Church. May God give all of you good health and love among yourselves.”
In photo: Archbishop Jānis Vanags and the delegation of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia
Photo credits: Liliann Keskinen