Pastor Vaira Bitēna celebrates 45 years ordination anniversary!

6. Oct, 2020

Vaira Bitēna was one of the first three women who were ordained on August 23, 1975. Two other female theologians – Helēna Valpētere (1911 – 1987) and Berta Stroža (1914-2005) were ordained along with Vaira Bitēna. 

In 1978 Vaira graduated from the Theological Seminary, and on July 17, 1979 she was installed as pastor. 

Vaira Bitēna was already involved in the pastoral ministry since 1973 – years before her graduation from the Seminary. In 1973 she was sent to St. Catherine Church in Viļķene parish, next year (1974) she was entrusted with pastoral duties in Pāle Church along with the third – Lēdurga Church, where Vaira Bitēna started to minister in October, 1974. In 1975 Bitēna was ordained as an Assistant Pastor and was given all the rights of a pastoral ministry. There was yet the fourth church to be added to her pastorship – Skulte Church in 1977 and the fifth church – Pēterupes Church in Saulkrasti in 1978.

Assistant Pastor Vaira Bitēna, who exercised spiritual care of five churches at the same time, was installed as pastor in 1979. She was given pastoral cross at St. Gertrude New Church in the capital Rīga.

Ministry in five churches was not easy, because the responsibility of the pastor did not limit itself to preaching on Sundays or visiting the sick. In every church there was a need to lead and oversee the repair of the buildings and to be actively involved in the affairs of the congregation, which demanded very much time and energy. Due to such workload Pastor Vaira Bitēna started to develop health issues and heeding to the advice of the doctor she decided to devote all her time to the work at one church, gradually entrusting other four churches to other ministers.

Later the Lutheran Church leadership asked Pastor Vaira Bitēna to get involved and lead the renovation of the Turaida Church. The church renovation ended in 1991, and the process was difficult, yet pastor Vaira Bitēna continued to take spiritual care of Turaida Church after the renovation. Vaira Bitēna also continued to take care of Saulkrasti Church where, despite different hardships, she served as pastor for 25 years.

Another challenge came from the bishop G. Dimants who asked Pastor Vaira Bitēna to take pastorship over St. John Church in Sala parish. This was the seventh church. The parish accepted female Pastor and Vaira Bitēna served in St. John Church from 2010 to 2012. On November 18, 2012 Pastor Vaira Bitēna retired. 

Vaira Bitēna describes her extensive responsibility in just a few words: “May God help me!”

On August 23, 2020 Pastor Vaira Bitēna has celebrated her 45th ordination anniversary. On her ordination anniversary she ministered at one of her former churches – at St. John Church in Sala parish along with the Bishop emeritus Pāvils Brūvers and the present Pastor at Sala parish Aivars Gusevs.

Pastor Vaira Bitēna is one of the founders of the Association of Lutheran Women Theologians in Latvia (on the photo – first row on the left).