Lāsma Gaitniece

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Farewell words to Pastor Martins Urdze (1960-2021)

Last weekend brought sad news. On the afternoon of April 23, 2021, the pastor of Liepaja Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church and LELB Saraiki parish and the head of Liepaja Diakonia Centre Mārtiņš Urdze was called to God’s peace after an illness. A brave, decent and honest man of God. A clergyman who wholeheartedly cared for people not only spiritually, but also practically.

Mārtiņš Urdze was born on 27 August 1960 in Oldenburg, north-western Germany, into a family of exiled Latvian clergy. His father, Paulis Urdze, served as a pastor in the Oldenburg area and his uncle, Jāzeps Urdze, as a clergyman in Bonn. Martin’s mother, Gita Putce, was also a pastor who served in parishes in Bradford, Leeds and Manchester in England. It is only natural, therefore, that Martin Urdze chose theology as his path in life. After studying at theological universities in Germany, he was ordained as a pastor on 26 August 1990.

In 1995, he moved to Latvia, where he began his work as a deacon and later became pastor of the Liepāja Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church.

In 2016, the pastor and his congregation left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Latvia (LELB) to protest its decision not to allow women to be ordained as pastors.

In 2017, Mārtiņš Urdze received the honorary title “Liepaja Citizen of the Year” for his contribution to the organisation and management of social projects for people with special needs and their integration into society. “Helping others is connected with my faith. I am a Christian and I believe that God’s love should be shown not only by words, but also by deeds – by helping people who are having a hard time so that they can experience something good.”

He also believed that every trial makes people stronger: “It is true that we only come to this conclusion when we have gone through difficulties. When you are in a mess, sometimes it is hard to see the good. I hope that in my old age I can look back and say: yes, it all made sense.” Although you were not destined to live to old age, yes, Martins, your selflessness and work for the good of people made sense! For that, I thank you sincerely!

God grant him eternal peace, and let eternal light shine!

Lāsma Gaitniece