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The Lutheran Church in Slovakia celebrated today what would have been the 100th birthday of the first woman ordained as a pastor in the Lutheran Church in Slovakia. Darina Banciková was ordained in 1951, in spite of controversy within the church. Her ordination is noteworthy, since it was among the first ordinations of women pastors to have taken place in the Lutheran church in Europe, effectively putting the Slovak Lutherans in the spotlight for this milestone of the church.

The solemn celebration, which took place on November 13, was marked by a special service in Kokava nad Rimavicou, Slovakia, the congregation where Rev. Banciková was born and where she was also interred following her death. (In addition, this congregation is of special note to us in the Slovak Zion Synod, since it was served from 1987-1993 by the Rev. Rastislav Mičovsky who currently is a Slovak Zion Synod pastor serving our Nativity congregation in Windsor, Ontario.)

Participating in the service were the Rev. Ivan Eľko, General Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Slovakia and many women pastors, conference deans, and leaders of the Slovak Lutheran Church. Bishop Wilma S. Kucharek brought greetings from the Slovak Zion Synod–ELCA, shared reflections about the occasion, and also participated in the liturgy, which was nationally televised and is available to rewatch below; it will also remain available in the mySynod app, under ‘Featured Videos’.

The service concluded with a procession into the courtyard of the church where family, worshippers, the community, and ecumenical guests witnessed the unveiling of a commissioned bronze bust of Rev. Banciková. From there, people proceeded to the cemetery, where prayers were offered at her place of interment. Following dinner, a special program highlighting her life took place in the afternoon.

We give thanks to God for the faithful life and witness of this pastor of Christ’s church and beloved child of God, Darina Bancikova.