There are many troubling news and concerns we hear every day. As a Church community of people from every continent, crisis – whether they are political, military or environmental – come very close to us. There are very concerning news coming from South Sudan, Nigeria is under fear of terrorism and, many Americans are trying to understand decision made by the new administration. All of these situations remain in our prayers.
But there are some immediate concerns facing the people of our church community here in Finland. I have heard stories from individuals who are concerned for their relatives in the United States. Many are afraid of travelling outside US as they can not be sure they are allowed for re-entry. And there are those who do not know whether they are able to visit their family members who are residing in the U.S.
This week the House of Commons of the United Kingdom voted in favour of the legislation allowing HM Government to trigger Article 50 of Lisbon Treaty. Though the legislation still needs further scrutiny and must get the approval of the House of Lords before becoming law, it seems more and more likely that the so called “Brexit” is happening in two year’s time. This raises questions among all the UK Citizens living in Finland and especially for those who work for the EU Insitutions. Those receiving UK pensions might also have questions related to their pension schemes. I am ready to listen to your thoughts and concerns.
Also this week we have learned about the concerns the Finnish Government has over the question of dual (or multiple) nationality. Yesterday (Thursday, 2nd February) The President of Finland questioned the dual nationality and urged for a re-evaluation of laws. Many of you do hold a Finnish passport while you have decided to keep your own nationality. The Finnish legislation does not make any difference between a person who holds only a Finnish citizenship and a person who holds two or more citizenships. Besides, the Finnish constitution guarantees equal human rights for who are in this country, no matter what nationality they are. Yet the debate which is very public and might cause some anxiety in families who are affected by one or more of these changes. Again, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or thoughts.
As Chaplain, I attended a seminar this week. The topic could be freely translated ‘Freedom of Religion as part of Integration.’ Towards the end of the seminar I pointed out that the Anglican Church in Finland has been described as an immigrant church even after a hundred years. I asked when is the integration completed? No one was able to give me a good answer!
We continue to welcome all who wish to worship with us.
With my best wishes and prayers,