Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church

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Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church arms.gif
Classification Protestant
Orientation Lutheranism
Polity Episcopal-Synodal
Primate Archbishop of Tallinn
Associations Lutheran World Federation,
World Council of Churches,
Conference of European Churches,
Porvoo Communion
Community of Protestant Churches in Europe
Region Estonia
Origin 1917
Congregations 164
Members 160,000 (2005)[1]
Official website

The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (Estonian: Eesti Evangeelne Luterlik Kirik, abbreviated EELK) is a Lutheran church in Estonia. EELC is member of the Lutheran World Federation and belongs to the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe. It is also a member of the Porvoo Communion, putting it in full communion with the Church of England and other Anglican churches in Europe.


The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELC) was constituted in 1949, when the previous church hierarchy, Eesti Evangeeliumi Luteriusu Kirik, headed by bishop Johan Kõpp, had escaped to Sweden in 1944. When the Soviet Union invaded Estonia in 1940, most Christian organizations were dissolved, church property was confiscated, theologians were exiled to Siberia, and religious education programs were outlawed. World War II later brought devastation to many church buildings. It was not until 1988 that church activities were renewed when a movement for religious tolerance began in the Soviet Union.

Although women had studied theology at Tartu University in the 1920s and some had sought ordination as priests, it was not until 1967 that the first woman, Laine Villenthal, was ordained.


The Church of Estonia is episcopal in polity, and is currently led by five bishops, including the archbishop who serves as the Primate.[2] Following the retirement of Andres Põder as archbishop, the current archbishop is Urmas Viilma, consecrated on 2 February 2015.[3] The Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad is Andres Taul, also a pastor of the Lutheran Church–Canada.


As of February 2009, the EELC reported approximately 160,000 baptized members and the EELC Abroad (based in Canada) reported approximately 8,000 baptized members.[4] A previous figure broke down the EELC Abroad into 3,508 members with 12 clergy in the USA and 5,536 members with 11 clergy in Canada.[5]


External links[edit]