On 16 March, the Finnish Government announced further actions to slow down the Coronavirus. These include taking in to use emergency powers legislation which allow the Government to by-pass many normal procedures in order to implement restrictions and policies to protect the nation.
All public gathering of more than 10 people have been banned. Government-run re-creational activities, public archives etc will be closed. The Prime Minister has asked churches and other religious entities to follow this advice. There remains some uncertainty what the churches are able to do at the moment. We follow closely The Finnish Government, health authority THL but also the Church of England guidelines. The Diocese in Europe publishes its own information which can be found here. As the Anglican Church in Finland operates in premises owned and governed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland, we follow their instructions also.
For many of you the closing of schools and border-crossing points is a source of huge stress and anxiety. I am aware that some have been called back home by their employers. Those in risk groups must take good care of themselves by avoiding unnecessary going out.
But as the Prime Minister said, you are free to visit parks and take care of your necessary daily tasks. As a church community – and as individuals – we can think how to best help our neighbours in need.
The Chaplain can be contacted by phone or by e-mail also during this time. He is available for pastoral care and guidance. Funeral services can take place but with no more than 10 people. Baptisms and Marriage services must be postponed until further notice.
As we all follow the development of this situation, let us keep in our prayers and thoughts those already affected and those who work medical services.
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Protect people around you
Please avoid any public gathering if you feel sick. Even if you would think that you have “just an ordinary flu”.
Remember to wash your hands whenever possible and use hand sanitisers.
Please do not come to church if you are ill.
Wash your hands regularly by using soap and running water. Scrub for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitiser.
If you have an existing medical condition, please take care of yourself by avoiding large crowds and by washing your hands regularly.
Sunday services have been suspended for the time being. Please wash your hands when arriving at the church and use hand sanitiser if possible.
Live streaming services
We will be expanding our presence on our social media platforms. In addition, users can watch live streams of services from a range of churches including:
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) does pose a serious risk especially to those who have a pre-existing medical condition. So it has to be taken seriously. The measures the Government have introduced are to slow down the spread of the virus so that the health services can better manage the situation and focus in treating those patients who are seriously ill.
Being concerned and cautious does not, however, mean that we should be afraid or isolate ourselves totally. In fact, the advice given is very similar to what should happen if we suffer from ordinary flu or influenza. This time we are better prepared and can slow down the virus. Once the pandemic is over we resume to normal – keeping in mind and continuing the practice of good hygiene.
Please be in touch with you families and friends by phone or writing, for example. This is a time to show love, compassion and care. The Church of Christ continues to offer prayers.
With my prayers,
Tuomas Mäkipää, Chaplain & Area Dean for Finland