The Roots and Development of the Laestadian Movement in Finland
A Lecture Series by Dr. Pekka Raittila
Dr. Pekka Raittila lectured at the Pastor's Seminar October l8 and 19, l982, at Inter-Lutheran Theological Seminary. Dr. Pekka Raittila is a professor in the Theological Seminary at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the state church of Finland. Pastor Elmer Yliniemi translated these lectures at the Seminar. Melvin F. Salo prepared this manuscript from cassette tapes of the lectures and it was subsequently converted to this web page.
Copyright 1987 by Inter-Lutheran Theological Seminary 11015 County Road 15 Minneapolis, Minnesota 55441 612-546-3332. All rights reserved.
- Introduction and Overview
- Relationship of the Laestadians to the Lutheran Church of Finland
- Laestadians to the Present
- Missionary Work
- Organization of Laestadians
- The Training of Ministers
- Conclusions: Observations of Pekka Raittila Regarding the American Laestadian Scene
Page 2: The Relationship of the Laestadians to the Lutheran Church of Finland (state church of Finland-Suomen Evankelisluterilainen Kirkko)
First clarification of the title state church. In the north country the people spoke comparably of the state church. Since the 1500s the the Lutheran Church was the church of the of all the Scandinavian countries. In the l600s in Sweden, of which Finland was a part, every citizen was required by law to be a member of the national Lutheran Church. Those who came from a foreign country were given small exceptions to this law. If citizens, born in the country, left the national Lutheran Church, they lost all their citizenship rights. They were of the opinion and it was expressed publicly that nation's unity was best served by religious unity in one faith. Therefore, it was in the interest of the state that unity be preserved. Therefore, in the 1700s in the interests of the state they wished to stop the Pietistic Movement. The state supported the clergy and the clergy felt responsible for opposing Pietism on behalf of the state partly because they were employed by the state. Thus they viewed this arrangement that the state and Christianity were united in efforts for Christianity. It is not correct to say that the state had control of the church or that the church controlled the state. In the l800s we saw a change take place. On the one hand liberal ideas crept into society and on the other revival movements began. These two movements broke the unity of church and state. Also freedom of religion was becoming to be guaranteed by statute. During Laestadius' time independent congregations could be established in Norway. Soon after the time of Laestadius this was possible in Sweden. At the end of the l800s it was possible in Finland to establish independent congregations. In l922 freedom of religion was guaranteed in Finland. According to the law citizens of Finland could leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, could establish their own independent religious fellowships or refrain from any. It would be better to speak of the people's or national church in Finland rather than of the state church. The state does not have as much to say as they had before in matters of the church. The General Church Assembly in Finland is the high church authority in the national church of Finland. Bishops are the highest directors of the church. The state in practice has little to do with matters of the church. In Norway the state has a much closer relationship with the church. Sweden is in the middle ground so far as state control of the church is concerned. During the last one hundred years in Sweden as well as in Finland Laestadians, as well as other people, have had the right and opportunity to establish their own church and congregation. In a few instances a few Laestadians have tried to establish their own separate congregations. All these efforts were rejected. We could ask why? The first explanation would be the example of Laestadius himself. Laestadius spoke and wrote very critically of the state church for life had pretty well disappeared from the National Lutheran church of Sweden. He said of the Baptists Movement that was beginning to gain ground in numbers in Sweden that they may have a better understanding of the matter of grace than many of the Lutheran members but that they have one fault in that they have separated themselves from the national Lutheran church. In this way Laestadius left a dual inheritance: on one hand a very severe criticism of the dead state of the national Church and on the other hand a dictum that Laestadians are to remain in the national Lutheran church. It has also been said of Juhoni Raattamaa that he gave an example of loyalty to the national Lutheran church. In his home parish he went regularly to communion. At that time it was customary to go to communion once or twice an year. Church records indicate that Juhoni Raattamaa attended communion four times an year. On his preaching mission journeys he attended church in the local parish for worship service and communion. In this way he gave an example for church attendance at the national Lutheran church. The example has not been followed well in Finland but remaining as members in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has been well followed. Being members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church but having their own congregations and prayer houses has created some problems. The sacraments were left in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Pastors baptized children and served communion, but the spiritual authority remained in the Laestadian congregation. This situation led to the development that neither baptism nor communion were given the same value that the Lutheran Confession of Faith teaches. It did not mean that the Laestadians wished to depreciate the sacraments. Without question children were brought into the church for baptism. Communion attendance for Laestadians was as frequent as for other diligent members, but little was written or preached about the value of the sacraments. Though explanation was given as to the meaning of sacraments and conversely what purpose they do not serve. For example when Luther's Catechism was about to be published in America an introduction was requested of Juhoni Raattamaa. Raattamaa wrote of that matter which in his opinion was most important. He wrote a reminder of the doctrine of baptism that new birth does not belong to baptism but that new birth is painful conversion. In this way he wanted to clarify Luther's explanation of the meaning of baptism. In the last one hundred years there have been many instances wherein baptism has given rise to conflict. The Laestadians stated that they could not whole heartedly accept Luther's explanation in totality. Laestadians asserted that they are Lutherans and that they emphasize the use of the keys of the kingdom of heaven. The Laestadians wanted to be members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland but also preserve the own doctrine. This relationship to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland was also evident in America. You who have been born in America and perhaps have parents who were born in America may assume that because you have no national church that conditions are entirely different here. However, when the first emigrants from Finland, Norway and Sweden came to the Copper Peninsula in America they attempted to adhere to the traditions of the national church. They had no theologian who would think through these matters with them. When the early emigrants established a church in Calumet, Mi., they modeled it after the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The Sunday worship service followed the order the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Communion was served and distributed as it had been in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Other church activities were modeled after the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Sweden which created much opposition among some of the Laestadians. For this the director, Salmon Korteniemi, of the Laestadian Congregation in Calumet was soon criticized for acting like a pope over the Christians. The opposition unseated him and an aggressive and gifted man John Takkinen succeeded Korteniemi. Prior to succession Takkinen wrote to Finland that soon they will be able to overthrow the seat of the pope. When Takkinen returned to America from Finland the second time to serve as the permanent preacher he was accused of becoming even more of pope than Korteniemi had been. Takkinen adopted for the Copper Country church, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland organization methods that even Korteniemi had not attempted to use. For example, Takkinen attempted on his visit to Minnesota to use a catechistic teaching method once used in Finland. According to this method Takkinen called people together, as was the custom of the catechist in Finland, and attempted to examine them as to their ability to read the Bible and to explain doctrines of faith. He attempted to carry on as state church affairs were conducted in Finland. Following the traditions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland was defended here. For example, when Laestadian minister in Finland suggested that little children have access to the Lord's Holy Supper he received very little support in Finland but the most opposition arose in America for people in America wanted to adhere to the traditions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. There were many reasons for wishing to adhere to the traditions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. In fact the Suomi Synod was called even in this country the Finnish State Lutheran Church. Its strength was in that it was like the state church of Finland. The new emigrants were insecure and a church similar to the one in Finland gave them a sense of security. In a similar way the Laestadians wanted to keep their church much like the state church of Finland in order to meet competition with other churches for Finnish emigrants. Certainly, they were internally tied to the state church of Finland. It was thought that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland could continue here with the Laestadians within the church as they had been in Finland. Some Laestadians in Minnesota wrote to Finland that they hoped to have a church as they had had in the state church in Finland with the Laestadians holding their own services on the side. There was some concern among the Laestadians as to whether it was really necessary to separate from the H. Roernaes congregation which was the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Scandianavian Conference as they wished somewhat to adhere to a state church type. These disagreements related to the disagreement with Salomon Korteniemi's ministerial service. From sources of that time there was no clear indication that there were doctrinal differences with Korteniemi. The state church tradition was powerful. There is another example of how the tradition of the state church continued. In the year 1870 the revival faction led by Carl O. Rosenius suffered division. The radical faction that separated was led by Paul P. Waldenstrom. Laestadians had a close relationship with the Waldenstrom Awakening. Juhoni Raattamaa was very interested and wanted a favorable relationship with them. Communication between them broke down. One reason for the breakdown was the question of separating from the state church. Though spiritually the Laestadians partly identified with the Waldenstrom Awakening yet they did not wish to separate from the state church. Within the Laestadian Movement there have been only minor attempts by small groups to separate from the state church. These attempts for separation have been quickly rejected. The same attitude continues today. The various Laestadian groups have their own prayer meeting houses and their own congregations but they all belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Many are very active in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and pay their church tax. The Laestadians maintain their own meeting houses and organizations. In the state church the Laestadians do more than pay their taxes. From the Laestadian groups about two hundred pastors serve in the state church. Of the pastors and laymen several serve on the National Church Assembly. In the local parish man Laestadians are active in the state church. In this way the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland unites, after a manner, the various Laestadian groups. So as not to mislead you to wrong conclusions there are some Laestadian groups that very definitely separate themselves into their own congregations. The various Laestadian groups do remain separated from each other but there is this unifying work through the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. This unifying work between the various Laestadian groups is totally lacking in the United States. In speaking of the relationship of Laestadians to the state church we must also mention the relationship of the state church to the Laestadians. Initially the state church leadership was neutral toward the Laestadians but when the Laestadian Movement began to spread rapidly in the l870s and l880s the the state church leaders began to oppose and work to curtail the Movement and called it a sect. It was classified with the Methodists, Baptists, and with other religious groups that came into the country from the outside. But at the end of the nineteenth century when it possible to separate from the state church and when the Methodists and Baptists separated and the Laestadians surprisingly did not separate the attitude of the state church toward the Laestadians changed. At the same time the labor unions and liberal thinking caused many to withdraw from the state church and from under its influence. When the Laestadians decided to stay in the state church it was considered good though they had their singular individuality. In Finland, Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries the Laestadians have become positively recognized. The following comments are in response to questions from participants: The Catholic Church is very young and there are only a few thousand Catholics in Finland. Until 1520 the Catholic Church was the state church of Finland. There are only a very few synagogues and very few Jews in Finland. The Laestadian pastors make up approximately 5-10% of the total number of pastors serving in the state church. Korteniemi was a church caretaker or janitor in Finland before coming to America. John (Juhoni) Takkinen was a teacher in the ambulatory schools. He taught children and helped the pastor teach confirmation school. He was a well known and able preacher. Castren was a teacher in the ambulatory schools. He was not a leader there (in Finland). In America we Laestadians call ourselves Apostolic Lutherans. In Finland we call ourselves Laestadians. It is a name given by others to the Movement. Laestadians have an organization, Suomen Rauhanyhdistysten Keskusyhdistys, the SRK, located at Oulu, Finland. (other groups have organizations such as the Suomen Vanhoillislestadiolainen Rauhan Yhdistys at Ylivieska, Finland, and other groups with headquarters.) In Finland there are no separate Laestadian churches from the National Lutheran Church. All the Laestadians belong to the National Lutheran Church. The two hundred pastors are pastors in the National Lutheran Church. Laestadians in Finland have their own meeting houses in which they conduct worship services in addition to those that they attend in the state church. If they have a Laestadian pastor, of course, they attend Sunday morning worship service in the state church. Many if not most attend the Sunday morning worship service in the state church even if the pastor is not a Laestadian. Baptisms, confirmation, communion, weddings and funerals are held in the state church. None of the Laestadian meeting houses have an altar. Laestadians preach, pray and sing hymns there. Usually there is a table and the preacher sits behind the table and preaches. The meeting houses of the Laestadians are separate and have separate organizations from the state church, but all are members of the state church. Church state law prohibits holding any other worship service on Sunday morning except in the state church so no services are scheduled in the meeting houses at that time. Sunday morning worship services are held at l0:00 o'clock in the state church. In practice no one would be brought to justice for holding worship services on Sunday morning outside the state church. All religious movements in Finland schedule services after l2:00 noon. Membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is decreasing and not increasing. A new archbishop was appointed recently and being a young man of 50 years he was asked what changes he foresaw in the church by the year 2000. He responded that by the year 2000 the relationship of the state and the church would continue to become even more relaxed and the percentage of people as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland would continue to decrease. It can be assumed therefore that many persons now members of the state church would withdraw their membership. On the other hand it is possible that those people who are members will attend more regularly than at present. Raittila responded to questions from the participants. How did the name for the Laestadians, "Apostolic Lutheran Congregation" come about in America? This name, "Apostolic Lutheran Congregation" appeared first in l878 for a Laestadian congregation in Cokato, Minnesota. Then in Calumet, Michigan, in April l879 the name of the "Salomon Korteniemi Lutheran Society" was changed to the "Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Congregation". Who was responsible for formulating that name is uncertain. It could have been John Takkinen or Castren. Frequently in his letters Juhoni Raattamaa used words to this effect: "We hold the Confession of Faith to be important but more than that we want to adhere to the doctrine of the Gospel taught by the Apostles and Prophets." In this way if we are Apostolic we are Biblically based. On the other hand the Laestadians wish to make clear that they are Lutherans. When others are Evangelical Lutherans we are Apostolic Lutherans. Because of the tradition of the Laestadians in Finland to remain in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and to refrain from building their own churches but rather building meeting houses for preaching, praying and singing of songs and hymns, the early Laestadians in America may have been inclined to try to maintain that tradition. Initially the congregation in Kingston, Minnesota, was named the Sunday School Society, perhaps thinking of the Cokato Church as the Church. The Old Apostolic Lutheran Congregation in Cokato initially was named a society after the separation. In Finland the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion may be administered only by pastors of the National Lutheran Church of Finland. Lay preachers may preach but do not administered the sacraments. All the Laestadian groups that are in existence in America have like groups in Finland with whom they identify except the Pollari which is not in existence in Finland. In Finland there is the New Awakenist group that does not have a counter part in America. Two additional points of the relationship between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Laestadians need to be mentioned. There does not seem to be a great deal of difference between the organization of the Laestadian Churches of Finland and the Apostolic Lutheran Churches in America. In Wolf Lake, Minnesota, and in Tapiola, Michigan, for example, there has been a custom to baptize all children and almost all children seem to have attended confirmation school. Most seem to desire a church wedding. Most seem to desire a minister to conduct a funeral. Most people seem not to have been official members of any particular church. In other words they do not attend church except to participate in these specific functions. (Editor's note: Wolf Lake is not a typical Laestadian congregation in America.) In Finland we have many casual attenders of this type in the National Lutheran Church of Finland. It is, of course, the desire of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland that these people who come to church only for these life dividing events would become regular and active true members of the church. In America undoubtedly the church has similar hopes that the nominal members would become true and active members. The American Lutheran Church/The Lutheran Church of America (ALC/LCA) in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland seem to be comparable positions in regard to self-examination. The Apostolic Lutheran Church in America may not find itself in a like position in this regard. Consequently, the ALC/LCA in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland, as well as the Apostolic Lutheran Church, have reason to pray that God would give an awakening to make true and active members of the nominal members. DIVISIONS IN THE LAESTADIAN MOVEMENT To the Laestadians division is a particular characteristic though we do not have reason to over emphasize this too much. For example, if we look at the Norwegian Lutheran Churches in America we learn that there are many types of Christian affiliations here. It is true that among Norwegian Christian churches there has been unification recently to decrease the number of affiliations. When we examine the Finnish revival movement we note a large Evangelical Movement and a large Awakenist Movement. These movements have much in common. Their activities have declined. A characteristic of the Laestadians is that they have divided and continue to divide. Decisive and foundation forming divisions occurred at the turn of the century. Lars Levi Laestadius (1800-1861) and Juhoni Raattamaa (1811-1899) continued to hold the Laestadians in one fold. After the death of Raattamaa inl899, the Laestadian Church of the First Born broke into two groups. A. The Western Laestadians or the First Born (Esikoiset) B. The Eastern Laestadians or the Old Laestadians (Vanhoilliset) C. New Awakening (Awakenists) (Uudestiheranneet) This group developed. Research indicates that all of these three groups have their foundation in the initial Laestadian teaching. One cannot say that one group has started from another. This might be true in certain localities but overall in the l800s and early l900s the initial Laestadians in this process divided into three groups. Each of these three groups had the firm conviction that they were proclaiming correctly the original Laestadian faith. In a few years differences between the three groups became clear. Today they are separated and living in their own groups with their separate congregations. The groups have grown apart and know very little about each other. This is true in Finland anyway. Yes, it is so in America also. From one generation to the next explanation is handed down as to the circumstances of the past division. Each of the groups seems to have explanations of the extremes of the other group from whom they parted. These explanations about the divisions are not outright falsehoods but rather they are isolated incidents that do not portray accurately the circumstances surrounding the division. Therefore, it reenforces the dictum that research need not be made into a group that adheres to a wrong doctrine. When we think specifically of the Laestadian tradition we wonder whether is it right or is it wrong. When I (Pekka) read the fifteen Laestadian papers that are being published today, three in America, two in Norway, one in Sweden and the rest in Finland, I wonder wouldn't it be expedient and economical to publish only one paper. Devote three quarters of the paper to publishing articles expressing a common point of view and one fourth of the paper devoted to the differences in the groups. This suggestion is pretty much of a joke for the tradition of the Laestadian Movement continues in all the different groups. The differences between the groups is explained as being doctrinal. Even in the beginning there were opposing views in the Laestadian Movement. An example is the Law or legalistic versus the Gospel orientation. The Old Laestadians (Vanhoilliset) say that the Church of the First Born (Esikoiset) and the New Awakenists (Uudestiheraneet) are law minded. The First Born (Esikoiset) say of the New Awakenist (Uudestiheraneet) and of the Old Laestadians (Vanhoilliset) that they are too evangelical or too free. Research has attempted to define the differences that were present in the beginning among the Laestadians. For example, Aulis Zidbeck, a Finnish researcher, was the first to write a dissertation about Laestadius. He writes of the mystic and Pietistic background which is in the Laestadian Movement. He also emphasizes Raattamaa's Lutheranism. In other words Laestadius represented the mysticism and Raattamaa the evangelical Lutheran thinking. In this way he explained the Old Laestadian (Vanhoilliset) and the New Awakenist (Uudestiheraneet) differences. The New Awakenists representing the return to Laestadius' teaching. For tens of years after the division there was no group that adhered as closely to the teaching of Laestadius as the First Born (Esikoiset). In all of the First Born worship service in America, Norway, Sweden and Finland a sermon by Laestadius is first read. After that comes the free sermon. The First Born (Esikoiset) pass judgement on the New Awakenists (Uudestiheraneet) and on the Conservatives (Vanhoilliset) saying that they are legalists. I have stated earlier that it is not possible to differentiate between the teaching of Laestadius and that of Raattamaa. Raattamaa said of Laestadius that of this Christian Movement Laestadius was the first and best teacher. In my understanding he really meant this. Raattamaa emphasized the same kind of rebirth conversion crisis that Laestadius had emphasized. Especially after l870 Raattamaa began to speak of Christianity becoming lighter. He said that those would not continue as Christians who were coddled too much. By coddling he meant that some are greeted as brothers who have not as yet experienced new birth. Raattamaa saw this as a trend and it gave him concern. He remembered those times when the awakening was beginning and he and others had experienced dramatic awakenings. He returned to the friends of his youth who had experienced deep awakening. Raattamaa began to refer to those who had early in the movement received an awakening as the First Born. These original First Born were growing older and fewer in number. It was at this time that the Laestadian Movement was spreading like a wild fire over Finland and into America. Raattamaa believed that it was imperative that the Christians have direction from the Elder First Born that only they could give. The other Laestadian preachers were of the same opinion. Raattamaa and the other older preachers were honored as the First Born Elders. They made long preaching mission trips to Helsinki and Petersburg which is now Leningrad. The First Born developed the tradition of a close relationship with the First Born Elders. The close fellowship tradition that developed between the First Born Church to the First Born Elders of Lapland seemed to be a decisive factor in the division in Laestadianism in the late l800s and the early l900s. It is to be remembered that Raattamaa's long range goal and purpose was that the Laestadian original gospel of the breaking of the heart of the sinner be preserved. To Raattamaa it was not good that this teaching seemed to replace the teaching of the suffering of Jesus Christ as the crucified king. In place of was begun the preaching only of the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name and blood. Raattamaa himself preached the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name and blood but the main theme in his sermons was the clarification of the reconciliation work of Jesus Christ. At this time then was born the congregation of the First Born. At this time all Laestadian groups accepted this as the reason for division but at the close of the century other issues of concern became evident. Many began to be concerned whether a new awakening wasn't needed for the lives of the Christians didn't seem to conform to the formulas laid down in the beginning. Therefore, there were two characteristics that people needed to examine. The first was an internal one of the experience of the breaking of the heart of the sinner which seemed to have become superficial. Secondly was an outward concern regarding the lives of the Christians for their clothes and other attributes of their live that had begun to resemble people in the world. Raattamaa himself and other leaders of the movement led very ascetic and simple lives. This change in the movement was of grave concern to many. This development in the movement was an important factor in the division history. We could say that the First Born division was a protest against the worldliness life style. The New Awakening we could say was a protest against the disappearance of the breaking of the heart. The Conservative group on the other hand sought to remain in the original doctrine. This is an over simplified explanation of the divisions of the eighteen and nineteen hundreds. All of the groups were concerned about the developments that were occurring. If we think of outward affairs between the First Born and the other groups we may observe that the First Born put more emphasis on outward forms and expression. Today the First Born are known as not wearing neckties and the women covering their heads for worship in church. Though all Laestadians are known for their rather simplistic life style than is the norm for the general population of the world. The question is where is the threshold for each group, for each individual. A few years ago a First Born Laestadian did not have a radio or a television in his home though all the other groups of Laestadians were careful concerning television. Therefore, the norm is at a different point in the continuum yet it is there though variation is not great. We can also say that the experience of the breaking of the heart of the sinner was not characteristic of the New Awakenists alone in about l890-l910. This division was a process that took place over the years 1890 to 1910 and the division took place in different communities in different ways and at different times. The division over this issue began in America earlier than l890. It is helpful to understand the division by clarifying the two issues that seemed to receive the most emphasis by the participants in the divisions at that time. Today we need to understand the effect of the change of generations. By the year l900 most of the people in leadership positions had died and had been replaced by a new generation of leaders. The leaders of the older generation though they may have had differences amongst themselves, yet were united on the main tenets of Laestadian doctrine. They had authority to keep unity despite differences within the group. Juhoni Raattamaa was a good example of this. Though he observed in Norway and even in the United States different interpretations of doctrine arising in the movement and even different congregations being established, as in Calumet, Mi., yet he did not wish to accept the truth of division becoming reality. He did not live long enough to see that the continued unity of all Laestadian groups was impossible. The new generation of leaders were not disciples of Laestadius and this tended to result in changes in the movement. There were also geographic factors that tended to bring about change. In Sweden the First Born (Esikoiset) were called the West Laestadians and the Old Laestadians (Vanhoilliset) were called the East Laestadians. In the west the First Born gained control. In the Tornio River Valley the Vanhoilliset or the East Laestadians were most numerous there. The scattering of the Laestadians among many different and separate locations tended to make it difficult to maintain unity in the movement. The movement then became divided into different groups by the different and separate geographic areas. This is a very simplified explanation for these divisions. In America also it is possible that different groups tended to develop in the different geographic areas. For example, in America the Pollari group seems concentrated in northern Minnesota. During the last division the Copper Country Peninsula has remained with the American Mission at Calumet, Mi,the First Apostolic Lutheran Church (the Heidemann/Torola group). In Minnesota the American Association of Laestadian Congregations (counterpart of the SRK in Finland) with headquarters in Minneapolis, Mn. is particularly strong here. In the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church (the Federation) with headquarters in Hancock, Mi., there seem to be differences according to geographic areas. To some extent the different groups have accepted certain geographic areas as peculiar to their particular group. The effect of geographic factors on division of groups should in no way be interpreted to imply the absence of the truth of real doctrinal differences between the groups. There certainly are doctrinal differences between the groups. Social and geographic factors have affected Laestadian divisions to a greater extent than Laestadians generally care to acknowledge. In America the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church (the Federation of Apostolic Lutheran Churches) perhaps has the largest membership and the Pollari group has the smallest. Then of the other large groups the First Apostolic Lutheran Congregations with the Mission at Calumet, Mi. (the Heidemann group) is larger than the First Born group (Esikoiset) or the American Association of Laestadian Congregations with headquarters in Minneapolis, Mn. In Finland the Suomen Rauhanyhdistysten Keskusydistys (SRK with headquarters in Oulu) which is so small in America has by far the largest membership. For their big summer services they have between 80-90,000 attenders. They also have a large influence on the lives of people especially in the Oulu area. The First Born Laestadians have their spiritual headquarters in the Gallivaara area in Sweden. Simplicity of living is an important characteristic of the First Born Laestadians but the most important characteristic that separates the First Born from the Conservatives (Vanhoilliset) groups is its congregational organization. During his life-time Raattamaa was known as the leader of the First Born. The First Born doctrine appealed to the people in Norway. After the death of Raattamaa the preachers in the Gallivaara Yukkasjarvi area of Sweden took on the mantel of Raattamaa. There were many who would have taken on the mantel of Raattamaa but only the preachers in Gallivaara were to carry Raattamaa's mantel but even they were able to hold only a small portion of converts that Raattamaa had had. Only the small congregation of Laestadian in Calumet, Mi., remained loyal to the Elders of Lapland. All of northern Finland was beyond their influence. Many First Born congregations developed in the cities of southern Finland as in Lahti, Helsinki, Turku, Tamperi, Pori, Lappeenranta and several others. Throughout the world the First Born have their heaviest support in these cities but the leaders are located in Gallivarra, Sweden. Perhaps the reason why the First Born Laestadians gained such tremendous support in the large cities of Finland in the late l900s relates to the social stratification that became very pronounced in the large cities. Perhaps because of the tension that resulted from the stratification of society into the poor working class versus the upper and middle classes that the simplicity of the First Born appealed to the poorer and the working class. Furthermore, the First Born seemed to place more emphasis than the other groups on unity within the congregation and close support for each other. This seemed to appeal to the poorer working class. On farms people live farther apart without the constant contact that urban dwellers have. Two years ago the First Born constructed a beautiful meeting house fifteen kilometers outside the center of Helsinki. In the last two years great numbers of First Born families have moved to be in the proximity of the meeting house. They have done the same in Brush Prairie, WA., where eighty percent of the members live within ten to fifteen miles of the church. Brush Prairie is the only First Born congregation on the West Coast. They want to live together and this is possible in the cities. Questions from the participants with responses by Pekka follow: Was the lack of central training conducive to divisions in the Laestadian Movement? Certainly there has been a lack of training institutions in all the groups. The Inter-Lutheran Theological Seminary in Minneapolis is the exception for it is the only Laestadian seminary. On the other hand the First Born congregation was established on the premise that there would be direction and teaching from one central place and that was the Eldership in Lapland. Yes, authority was vested in the Elders of Lapland and they were highly respected and esteemed though they had no central training institution. The tradition for the training of ministers in the First Born congregation is as follows: First the congregation chooses a young man who they think will make a minister. He is assigned to read Laestadius' Postillas and he reads these for several years. Then he reads the text for older preachers. After he has done this for five to ten years he may be asked to preach. After he has been a local preacher for ten to twenty years he may accompany an older minister on preaching trips to other congregations. This then is the ministers training among the First Born. There was a recent split among the First Born but the splinter group is so small that it has virtually no effect on the main body. The recent division within the First Born is of significance in this way that the division was a protest against the trend toward acceptance of worldly ideas and life styles by the large group also it was a protest against churchliness. Gunnar Jonsson, a member of the Swedish General Church Assembly, provided the First Born leadership for many years and directed the development of the First Born Church from a "raw" movement to a mature accepted Lutheran Church. The protest was directed to this change by the small opposition.