Oregon Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Viesturs Bambans – Pastor

Ruta Bambane – Deaconess/Secretary

Juris Orle – Chairman of the Board

Rita Seja – Chairperson of the Ladies’ Aid

Janis Zommers – Treasurer

The Oregon Latvian Church was founded on January 13, 1952, when a religious group was formed on the initiative of Marija Udre, Rozite Zarina, and Arvids Trapans. On that day, 66 people, including teenagers and children, joined the group. Out of these people, Rita Srams and Juris Orle are still members of the congregation. Currently, the congregation has about 50 members and slightly more if children are included.

The first chairman of the religious group was Janis Celms. There was initially a monthly fee of $1.00. Taking into account inflation since 1952, this $1.00 fee would now be worth about $8.00. In 2015, the monthly fee for seniors and students is $9.00 and $16.00 (or about $2.00 in 1950 money) for employed adults.

“The group is founded for a single purpose: to further our compatriots spiritual well-being and help those closest to us – so that all our compatriots can hear the word of God in Latvian, our children can have a Christian upbringing, and our hearts, family and relations with other be guided by Christian spirit and harmony.”

The most important event after the founding of the group was the arrival of Pastor Janis Cilnis and his family in Oregon in September of 1954. In October of that same year, the religious group became a congregation.

In October of 1976, the congregation, together with the Oregon Latvian Society, decided to buy Bethlehem Baptist Church and build a structure with a community hall, kitchen and other rooms next to it.

On May 15, 1977, at the congregation’s 25th-anniversary celebration, Archbishop, Arnolds Lusis, blessed our church and center and planted a birch tree on the church’s property.

At the November 18th national celebrations in the new, not yet completely finished hall the main speech was given by Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga from Montreal, Canada. She later became president of Latvia.

Evangelist Viesturs Bambans and his wife Ruta Bambans arrived in Oregon in January 2001. Viesturs Bambans was ordained as a minister by Archbishop E. E. Rozitis of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad, and on September 26 of the same year Dean Davis Kaneps installed him as pastor of the Oregon Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Pastor Viesturs Bambans continues to serve the congregation today, with assistance from his wife, Deaconess Ruta Bambans.