Deacon Aina Avotins
Deacon Aina Avotiņš was born in Saldu, Latvia on June 27th, 1926, where she also attended primary and secondary school. During World War II, she fled to Germany and later emigrated to Great Britain, where she completed her studies to become a Registered Nurse. She also completed courses to be a registered midwife and later specialized in premature infant care.
Aina Avotiņš then began studies at Mount Hermon Theological College of the Anglican Church and graduated with honours in 1956. She also took courses in tropical disease treatment, because she felt God’s call to work in foreign missions. From 1957 to 1965 Aina Avotiņš worked in Tanzania with the international inter-denominational African Inland Mission. For one year she directed the first aid station at Lake Victoria, after which she was director of the principal mission hospital, where she developed a children’s health clinic and also administered the large leper hospital of about one thousand patients. In addition to her administrative duties, Aina Avotiņš also taught her skills to the local staff and, because she had learned the indigenous Kiswahili language, was able to give pastoral care to patients and staff alike. Aina said that “my life and work conditions there were very primitive, but it was a joy to help other people!”
In 1965 Aina emigrated to Toronto and completed hospital administration courses at the University of Toronto. She then began her 24 years of service at Toronto’s Wellsley Hospital as Director of Evening/Night Hospital services. Aina also attended the Theological Courses of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church and was ordained as Deacon on November 8th, 1985 at St. John’s Latvian Lutheran Church in Toronto. At St. John’s, Aina directed pastoral visitation, assisted the minister in worship, served on the church Council and Ladies Auxiliary committee and directed our Sister congregation program, expanding it to include six congregations ( Umurga, Skrunda, Lipaiķu, Mazsalaca, Tērvete, Rūjiene) in Latvia. Aina has made many visits to all of these congregations and strengthened our friendship with them. Aina Avotiņš has published many articles in Ceļa Biedrs, a journal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia Abroad, as well as presented numerous lectures on religious and literary topics at various Latvian community organisations. In the Canadian district of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia Abroad, Aina was co-ordinator of the Ladies’ Auxiliaries and has been supply pastor on numerous occasions, most frequently in St. Catherines. In addition to her duties at St. John’s, since 1996 Aina Avotiņš has had pastoral charge of Trinity Latvian Lutheran Congregation in London (ON).