The History of the Finnish Orthodox Mission
In the 1950’s the interest towards missionary work awoke among the members of the Orthodox Church of Finland. The Orthodox Mission, the missionary organization of the Orthodox Church of Finland, was founded in 1977.
The first long-term mission workers, teachers Siina Taulamo and Maria Iltola (now igumenia Marina) were sent to Kenya to assist the local Orthodox church in 1977. Their first assignments were to teach and to start the church’s work among children, youngsters and women. Organizing diaconal work was also one of their tasks. The missionaries lived in a house called ‘Bethany’ in the village of Muguga, which became a central place for The Finnish Orthodox Mission.
In Kenya there were only a few proper church buildings in the 70’s. Parishes held their services in school classrooms or sometimes outside, under a big acacia-tree. Therefore, church building has been an essential part of the Orthodox Mission’s work in Kenya since its first years.
One of the main objectives has been to improve the living conditions and quality of life of the Kenyan people. The organization has carried out a great number of development co-operation projects. The most significant ones have been to build schools, health clinics and wells. The first school was built in 1979 in the village of Gimengwa in western Kenya.
The first missionaries started daily services, matins and vespers in Muguga. At first they were held in English, but gradually the lithurgical texts were translated into local tribal dialects. The missionaries had a central part in raising up the local orthodox congregations into the church’s liturgical life.
The organization has supported the Orthodox Patriarchal Ecclesiastic School in Nairobi in many ways. Several missionaries from the Finnish Orthodox Mission have been working as teachers in the school. Aid has also been directed through the organization to educate children, youngsters and women.
Providing health care services in remote regions has also been a part of the organization’s work in Kenya. Since the end of the 1990’s, the main focus has been raising awareness on HIV- and aids. Members of the Kenyan Orthodox Church have been trained via various projects to educate their own communities on HIV and aids issues.
The Orthodox Mission’s work is made possible by the donations and voluntary work of Finnish Orthodox. Funds have been raised mainly by organizing collection campaigns and through donations. The different parishes’ own spiritual and monetary support has also played a significant part.
During the last few years, ‘School Fee Funds’ and ‘Mission Teams’ have had a significant role in the Orthodox Mission’s work. The Orthodox Mission’s main aim is to assist the churches and parishes by supporting and developing local know-how and talents.
SCHOOL FEE FUND
Supporting education and African students with their study fees has been important for a number of Finnish Orthodox for a long time. The School Fee Fund of the Orthodox Mission of Finland assists indigent children and orphans with their primary and secondary school fees. This fund also provides assistance for vocational and academic studies for students of modest means.
The main objective is to help children and youths coming from poor families and children who have lost either one or both of their parents. Especially the organization wants to offer education to girls and women. Money for the school fees are delivered straight to schools or via the local orthodox church. The annual primary or secondary school fee is approximately 250-350 euro per year.
Support education by donating to the Orthodox Mission’s School Fee Fund: Bank account: 529002-2305047 Message: School Fee Fund
THE ORTHODOX MISSION TEAM
Orthodox Mission Teams are a way to share Orthodox Christianity with the world. Mission Teams are groups of Orthodox Christians, who are sent for short periods of time to assist the local Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Mission of Finland implements this activity together with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center which is the official international mission agency of the Standing Commission of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA).
The first Mission Team from Finland was sent to Northwest Tanzania in August 2008 for three weeks. The Mission Team which consists of American and Finnish members is a group of volunteers who gave teaching on basic catechism to lay teachers at the local church.
In Tanzania the number of Orthodox Christians is growing rapidly. That is why the church has a strong need to teach and educate its new members. This coming summer The Orthodox Mission of Finland is supporting The Metropolitan Archdiocese of Mwanza in Tanzania by sending the second Mission Team to Tanzania in coordination with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center.
Support the Mission Team by donating Orthodox Mission’s account: Bank Account: 529002-2305047