Sharing my thoughts on the webinar

A couple of weeks ago, our Youth Sunday School teacher asked if I could attend a webinar about how young peoples’ lives have been affected by the pandemic. It sounded quite interesting, as the pandemic had affected my life, just like everyone else. In Finland, we had a lock down, like many other places, and everything switched to online platforms. But these were not as interactive as face-to-face meetings, and it felt duller. The situation has eased, but there are clear signs of the pandemic still – masks, social distancing, etc. So, I was interested to hear about other peoples’ experiences during the pandemic, about how it was similar to mine and how it was different.

There were three panelists in the meetings. One of them was called Salma. She thought that the pandemic brought out the best in people. The Muslim communities she practices her faith with organized Zoom meetings so that no one would be lonely, and a lot of people attended these meetings. But at the same time, she had had negative experiences. A lot of people started avoiding her because of reports that a lot of Somalis had the coronavirus. Ramadan and Eid, two of the most joyful experiences of the year, felt boring and dull without the company of family and friends. And then there was the fear of the pandemic. But Salma was able to get over her fear after finding a verse in the Quran: “Every soul shall taste death”. This helped her realize we are all mortal, and helped control her fear of the pandemic.

The second panelist was named Daniel and he was from Ireland. He had just become manager of a Buddhist center when the lock down had started. For him, the coronavirus was an eye-opener, with the pandemic showing him that our lives are uncertain and are not controlled by us, but by God. The coronavirus also highlighted the importance of friendship with people of the same age and religion. Most of his friends are atheists, meaning that their priorities and struggles are very different. Being friends with someone who shares your values and principles gives you someone you can talk to. Having someone of your same age and faith also helps you to be bolder when showing that young people do practice faith. Daniel felt this was one of the responsibilities of young people during the pandemic.

The last panelist, Roni, was from Finland. In his opinion, one of the drawbacks of the pandemic was the inability to physically go to an event, for example a Sunday service. He normally volunteers for a lot of organizations, but suddenly those were also gone. Not attending events in person was something that affected his physical life and his spiritual life. When he went to confirmation camp, he had been taught that Christian faith was a chair that stood on four legs – reading the Bible, Holy Communion, prayer, and connection with other people. Suddenly one of the legs of the chair was gone. There were online services and online meetings, but to Roni they just didn’t feel the same. He found it hard to adapt to new situations and surroundings. Two things helped him adjust to the new normal: prayer and the bible verse Acts 17: 27-28: “God is not far from any one of us. In him, we live, move and we are.” The bible verse showed that God is not only present in places of worship, but also near every one of us.

I came to realize through the webinar that faith helped everyone to come to terms with the pandemic. It helped me realize that there are a lot of values in different faiths which offer consolation in difficult times. Faith also helped people to come together even when distanced. Online Sunday services and meetings with the respective faith communities helped people to come together. In some cases, these have been the only interaction people received in the whole week. People who believe in God will have better mental health during the pandemic because they have something to believe in and are able to see the broader picture and not just the immediate future. Practicing faith is a different and a better way to live out your life. The webinar was a good and new experience for me. I am grateful to the Anglican church for allowing me to participate.

Joel Sam Johnson

Please click on this link to view the edited Webinar on YouTube

An inclusive community of word and sacrament

The Chaplaincy Council had a very positive and constructive meeting on Saturday, 19th September 2020. We had a discussion on what is our mission and outreach and came to conclusion that we must first define who we are ourselves.

We all come from many different backgrounds and with our own identities. We do not always agree but wish to be truthful to our calling to be an ‘inclusive community of word and sacrament’. 

We also know that we could do better; to learn more about what it means to be a welcoming community. in order to help us explore what it means to extend the spirit of welcome to all the Council passed the following resolution:

“This Council adopts the Inclusive Church Vision as our view of the Church:

We believe in inclusive Church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate. We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on the grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality. We believe in Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”

So this is a beginning of a journey when we hope and pray to learn how ‘wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ’, to be faithful to the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it and, to continue our commitment to the ecumenical collaboration with our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in the Porvoo Communion Churches.

In Christ

Tuomas Mäkipää, Anglican Chaplain

Maintain justice, and do what is right

Hmm. At this time of the year, the Gospel texts tend to be rather complicated. Today, we have a text which combines actually two very different stories. First, the speech about eating and defiling a person, and then the story about Canaanite women and crumbs on the floor.

Is there something in common in these two stories? Is there something which combines them? Or should I actually give two sermons? (No, I won’t.)

Jesus and disciples are active in both of the stories. Jesus speaks, and so do the disciples. In the first part of the text the disciples are worried about pharisees. “They took offense when they heard what you said”. And in the other part the shouting women distracted them. ”Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us”, they say.

So, at least this combines the two stories: The disciples are concerned about other people and their own comfort. First, they don’t want to be any harm to pharisees, they might be little bit worried about the situation. And then, they want to get rid of the screaming lady.

Disciples are quite human, aren’t they? Their acts are quite stupid, and they don’t understand what’s going on. Just like we people often are. Why do we act like this?

There is Jesus, speaking truth about eating rules and telling pharisees that it is your acts which defile you. That we must act with love and respect towards one another. And disciples are scared – “now you said too much, they didn’t like it, there might be consequences”. And then there is this woman, asking help for her daughter, and disciples are distracted, they don’t think about helping the woman, but they want to get rid of her, because her screaming is irritating them.

How often we act like this. We concentrate on ourselves, on our own comfort. We might see an unjust thing or something done wrong, but we are afraid to act. How difficult it is to say: “this is wrong, this can not be.”

How often we leave people in the middle of injustice and problems, just because we are too fond of our own state and privileges or too scared for the consequences? And how often we walk past someone who needs help and are just a little bit irritated. Can’t she or he just be silent and behave?

I think, this is something we should reflect today. Why are we so keen to our own comfort, or in what other people think about us, that we fail to do what is right.

The way Jesus calls us, is the way, the truth and life. In today’s Old testament reading, we heard: “Thus says the LORD: Maintain justice, and do what is right”. That is the way. When we look around us in this world, we see that there is work to do. Lot of work, actually. We must act when we see injustice. We must speak the truth. And we must help, when someone in need asks for it. That’s the way Jesus is, and that’s the way we are called. Not just to life in comfort, and not just to try not to be any harm to others. The call leads us to uncomfort-zone, it might lead us in the middle of suffering and pain.

There is also Jesus. In people’s lives, in their pains and sorrows. Walking beside, comforting and helping. And in His death, Jesus is in our deaths and losses. And in his resurrection, his is always with us, in eternal life.

So, let’s not be afraid when it’s time to act or speak. Let us maintain justice and do what is right.

Revd. Kati Pirttimaa
Sermon 16th August 2020

Rev. Kati Pirttimaa works in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland at the Diocesan office of Espoo Diocese as Executive Secretary of Spirituality and Worship. She was ordained priest in June 2016. She has previously been trained and worked as a church musician. She serves as a locum at Anglican Chaplaincy of St Nicholas and has her home also in the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Music Ministry – Circular Collaboration

I am excited to join you all and begin my musical work and development at the Anglican Church of Finland.

During the course of the summer, we are beginning to implement music back into the service in various forms after a significant and lengthy absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Music is worship. For many people, it is the most intimate and powerful expression of their faith.

It is in this spirit of faith and worship that I am collaborating with the broader musical and artistic community in Helsinki and inviting them to join in the services at the Anglican Church of Finland. 

The presence of guest musicians at our services will serve two fundamental purposes: to assist the existing choral community to reach their highest individual and collective potential and for the professional musicians to share, through their skill and expertise, their own experience of faith and reality with our congregation through their various art forms.

This collaboration is not one-sided. The grand musical tradition of the Anglican Church will be made alive with each performance and many in this city and country will be exposed to its sublime beauty and subtle power for the first time.

It is this circular collaboration that I hope to foster to the highest level possible at the Anglican Church of Finland thereby creating a spiritual, cultural, and musical exchange in this community and country.

Erik Johannes Riekko
Director of Music

Born in Canada, Erik is a Finnish-Canadian choral conductor and pianist based in Helsinki. He actively works as a collaborative pianist with singers and musicians in Finland and internationally.  He is also the conductor of a professional chamber choir in Helsinki. Erik is excited to join the Anglican Church in Finland and develop the strong choral and musical tradition that exists here, in addition to fostering a strong and multi-dimensional relationship with the diverse cultural community of Helsinki, at large, in the promotion of music from the Anglican tradition.


Be fruitful

Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a person who sows seed on a field while he was asleep an enemy sows bad seed or weed in the field.

His disciples approached him and asked him to explain the meaning of the parable to them. He says that he who sows the good seed is the son of man and the field is the son of man. The field is the world, the good seed is the children of the kingdom and the weeds are the children of the devil.

In the explanation of the parable Christ declares that he is the sower, he spreads his redeemed seed through his believers in the field, through his grace they bear the fruit in their hearts, which produces good morals in the society.

The enemy in the parable is the Satan, in opposition to Christ, the devil tries to destroy the church. We have false teachers, deceivers, unbelievers in the society. They told the master can we remove the weed and the master said allow both to grow, because it would be difficult to separate until harvest time .

The enemy has a plan for sowing the bad seed, the signs can be visible when we experience violence, hatred, no love, corruption, deceit. We have counterfeit Christian and it is difficult to notice.

In Mat 13 Jesus said that by their fruits we shall know them. God allows the unbelievers to change before the harvest time. The church must allow the evil ones to change and we must not be quick to exclude or judge others. God will judge everyone after harvest.

The mission of the church is to sow the good seed to the world. We must help to make our society good and peaceful, by uprooting every bad seed in our lives through our action in our families, relationships and work places.

The disciples went to Jesus to interpret the parable. God is God and has solution to our problems. We must have time to study the bible and to pray to God for spiritual revelations. We have to observe when there is contamination and bad influence in our lives and love ones.

Who are you, good seed or bad, we must remember the harvest time of God is coming. We must say sorry to God and individuals we have offended. God is merciful and able to help us to bear good seed, Amen.

Revd Isaac Ohaju
Sermon, Sunday 19th July

Isaac Ohaju is a Priest and a Bible Teacher ordained in the Diocese of Ngbo Nigeria. He graduated from the University of Nigeria Nsukka with Masters in Educational Leadership and Management. He is a Social worker, graduated from Diak University of Helsinki in Social service and Diakonia.

Words have to be fulfilled

Words are important, but action really matters. Like ecumenical dialogue reports between churches are not completed until words in the paper have been fulfilled in the life of the churches. Like when the Word of Gospel becomes fulfilled and purifies the heart of Christians. So my words should become fulfilled in my heart and walk with the message.
I need to take action and steps for love.

I am very concerned that Finland is one of the most racist countries in Europe.[1] Especially for women, but for men and children too. What is wrong in our society? We need to openly declare and accept this and be prepared to denounce and change this, beginning with our own families, our communities and neighbors. We should all work against this racist harassment ecumenically in Finland.

Our church as well has committed to work against racism and violence and work for equality issues. Everyone’s experience matters. I wish you would like to tell me about your thoughts about these issues. It is important that we share our thoughts. We need to work together – to create a community where everyone has a voice and where we can be ourselves.

Probably you might know a tiny mustard seed.  It is very little, but it grows to become a great tree which gives fruit for many when it is given care and comfort.  We all are those little seeds and we need comfort and care for grow. I wish we all could live in a community where we can be safe and feel loved.

Saija Kainulainen is a member of the Section for Equality at the Finnish Ecumenical Council representing The Anglican Church in Finland; and also advocates for women’s issues at the Scandinavian ecumenical committee of women representing The Evangelical Lutheran church in Finland. She has almost completed her academic studies for a Master of Theology at University of Helsinki. Furthermore Saija is also a respected artisan and designed liturgical textiles for Suomenlinna Church in Helsinki.

Don’t hesitate to contact about any equality issues: saija@anglican.fi


[1] https://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2017/second-european-union-minorities-and-discrimination-survey-main-results

Emmanuel Eneh RIP

It is with great sadness that I have learnt the news about the death of Emmanuel Eneh. Emmanuel passed away on Thursday, 23rd April 2020.

Emmanuel was a long-standing member of the Anglican Church in Finland and had a significant lay ministry at the International Congregation of Christ the King in Tampere. He served many years as an Anglican Licensed Lay Reader, working together with the priests of the Lutheran Parishes in Tampere in providing pastoral and liturgical ministry to the international church community gathering in Vanha kirkko. His commitment to the implementation of Porvoo Agreement (between Anglican and Lutheran Churches), and his service to the wider community by participating in local politics in Tampere, were a source of inspiration for many.

Emmanuel remained as a member of the Diocesan Synod of the Diocese in Europe until his death. He was also a member of the Deanery Synod of the Nordic and Baltic states.

We remain grateful for Emmanuel’s ministry and pray for him and his family. He is survived by his wife and three children

Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:
your word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people;
A light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel. Luke 2.29-32

Tuomas Mäkipää

Chaplain
Chair of the Diocesan House of Clergy

Book of Common Prayer, Altar of Mikael Agricola Church

Dear people of the Anglican Church in Finland,

The outbreak of Corona virus (COVID-19) has caused some anxiety among people. The Chaplaincy is monitoring closely the instructions given by the Finnish authorities and the EU. Our practice of using common cup at the Eucharist is based on a long tradition of theology of the Church and this practice is maintained in the Canons Law of the church. This practice differs from what one could describe as a ‘norm’ in Finland. For this reason, the Anglican Church in Finland is following also the guidance from the Church of England concerning the corona virus. Please find below instructions from our Bishops.

Tuomas Mäkipää, Chahplain and Area Dean

The Church of England publishes guidance to all clergy and congregations here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/coronavirus

Please find below a letter from our Bishops to the congregations in the Diocese in Europe:

“We have decided to go somewhat beyond this advice [described in the link above] in certain respects because of the mobile and international nature of our congregations and in the light of medical advice we have received. We preface this advice by re-iterating that coronavirus appears to present a particular risk to elderly people and those with reduced immunity or a pre-existing health condition. Our advice is given out of a mutual concern for the wellbeing of all members of our chaplaincies. 

  1. We encourage individuals and congregations to follow good hygiene practices, including:
    1. Carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, and binning the tissue
    2. Washing hands with soap and water (for 20 seconds) or using sanitiser to kill germs.
  2. If possible provide hand gel at entrances and ensure there is a good supply of soap or hand gel in cloakrooms and kitchens. In addition, priests presiding at the Eucharist, communion administrators and servers should wash their hands, preferably with an alcohol-based sanitiser. Sidespeople/welcomers and those serving refreshments should take similar precautions.
  3. Try to clean hard surfaces such as door handles and communion rails regularly.
  4. The exchange of a gesture of peace prior to sharing Communion is for many, a much-loved moment in the service. However, we recommend that, for the time being, this gesture is restricted to a smile and words of peace to those in closest proximity rather than physical contact (kiss or handshake) with everyone in the church.
  5.  We recommend that communion is distributed in the form of bread/wafer only. Both elements will be consecrated but the wine should not be distributed. Congregations can be reassured that this does not diminish the nature of the Eucharist. It is a clear principle of Anglican theology that the sacrament of Holy Communion is present and complete in either of the consecrated elements. (We are aware that distribution of the elements in one kind only has already been adopted by some chaplaincies.)

Infectious diseases seem to cause higher levels of public anxiety than other threats, perhaps because we can’t see them or sense them. And although social media can satisfy our desire for information they have the capacity to fuel anxiety. Avoiding panic is a key part of responding to coronavirus for all of us in positions of leadership.

This guidance is intended as a prudent response to an unusual challenge. It represents a set of sensible precautions to promote health and wellbeing in the conditions of our diocese.

Meanwhile, we pray that our chaplaincies and congregations can be oases of peace, loving fellowship and hope in times of anxiety. We continue to pray for those infected by the coronavirus, for those who care for them, and for health specialists and authorities who are combatting the spread of infection.”

+Robert Gibraltar in Europe +David

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