Finnish Pentecostal churches ramp up conversions among asylum seekers

Nearly 100 asylum seekers have swelled the ranks of congregations in Pentecostal churches in Satakunta, western Finland. Some churches say they have been actively reaching out to asylum seekers to introduce them to their activities.

Pentecostal churches in western Finland have welcomed dozens of new converts since 2015. Churches in Rauma and Pori have seen roughly 60 new church members take up the faith over the past two years - writes yle.fi.

The majority of the new Pentecosts were once Muslim. Some have had their asylum applications turned down but others are still having their applications processed. Parishes have also been actively reaching out to asylum seeker reception centres.

Officials weighing authenticity of conversions

Officials from the Finnish Immigration Service have asked local churches for reports on the authenticity of new converts to Christianity.

According to the Pentecostal churches, however, getting baptised in the new faith involves a lengthy process lasting up to 18 months. The programme includes months of religious instruction. Changes in faith should also be visible in a convert’s daily life.

"I have sent more than a dozen statements about the converts I know. It is difficult to get inside someone else’s head, but I have noticed a real sincerity about their faith," said Petri Harjula, Pastor of the Pori Pentecostal Church.

Churches actively recruiting

Jari Puustelli is responsible for international outreach at the Harjavalta Pentecostal Church. He said that many of the Christian converts in Finland have faced a great deal of pressure.

"I have not seen anyone playing games with religion. Pressure in the community is tough that they would not dare play around with such things," he added.

Meanwhile the Rauma Pentecostal Church has been actively in touch with the residents if the local asylum seeker reception centre.

"We have brought them in with buses to get to show them our operations, but we tell everyone that conversion to Christianity will not affect an asylum decision," said Tuomo Ahonen.

New members also joining Lutheran Church

Lutheran Churches in western Finland have also welcomed asylum seekers as new members of their congregations. For example, more than a dozen asylum seekers have joined Pori’s Teljä Church.

"They have joined after basic baptism doctrine. In the teaching we look at the basic of Christianity based on the Bible and the catechism, such as is usually done in confirmation classes. We have also written reports on converts to Christianity," commented vicar Kaisa Huhtala.

Edit: The headline has been changed from "Nearly 100 asylum seekers convert as western Finland Pentecostal churches ramp up outreach", and the lines "The parishes have been accused of dispensing baptisms to new converts too easily. It is believed that many asylum seekers have been converting to Christianity in a bid to stay in Finland" were removed from this story.

Read also more news of Helsinki here.

yle.fi
Finnish_Pentecostal_churches
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
The coach of a sports club in Hyvinkää, southern Finland has been remanded into police custody on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors he was coaching, the Itä-Uusimaa police department said on Thursday. Officials said that they are investigating the case as suspected child abuse but did not disclose the ages of the alleged victims. The suspect in the case, a 50-year-old man, was remanded into custody on Wednesday. The suspected sexual abuse is believed to...
Society
Finns increasingly forego do-it-yourself construction of prefab elements in favour of completely completed homes. Turnkey homes (where homes are fully finished and owners can immediately occupy them) have become more popular than traditional house packages, says the Finnish Association for Manufacturers of Prefabricated Houses. “About 7,500 detached homes are built in Finland every year, and about 70 percent of them are prefabricated houses of some kind,”...
Society
THE FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE in the Helsinki neighbourhood of Arabianranta was visibly subdued on Tuesday, as residents mourned the death of a local child who is believed to have been murdered. While little information has been released to the public, it is known that the victim was murdered near their home on the night of Christmas Eve (December 24). The police apprehended a suspect at the scene of the crime, who has been confirmed as a 36-year old male. Whethe...
Society
One of Finland’s most famous seafaring vessels, the titanic icebreaker Otso, was deployed on its first mission of the winter season last night, keeping sea routes open for the 22nd year in a row. Late in the evening of Christmas Day, Otso, the crowning glory of Arctia Oy’s extensive fleet, departed from Helsinki’s Katajanokka Harbour, heading north to the Bay of Bothnia. The 7000-ton Polar icebreaker has been tasked with keeping waterways open between Oulu...
Society
Eight Finnish political parties have published their a statement on future climate policy goals in Finland. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) in November invited all nine parliamentary parties to join a task force established to find an agreement on new, more ambitious climate goals for Finland. The one-month project was led by Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing. The Finns Party abandoned the task force last w...
Society
A 25-year-old man suspected of the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 15 in Oulu, northwestern Finland, who was arrested in Germany last Tuesday is now reported to be at large. According to law enforcement officials in Oulu, the suspect was released by German police before he could be transferred to Finnish custody due to "a breakdown in communication between authorities". Oulu District Court ordered the suspect to be reprimanded into custody in absen...
Society
Finland’s high earners saw their real income grow more in 2017 than their peers in middle and low income groups, according to new data released by Statistics Finland on Tuesday. Incomes among the country’s highest income decile rose by 4.4 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, while the year-on-year increase was 1.3 percent for middle income earners. Incomes for the four lowest income deciles meanwhile grew by 1.2 percent over the one-year period. However amon...
Society
A man wanted in connection with a suspected arson attempt on a home in Helsinki’s Käpylä district was remanded into police custody on Sunday. The Helsinki district court has remanded a man suspected of attempted arson and attempted murder into police custody, ending a short-lived manhunt, police said on Sunday. The 25 year-old is suspected of using a Molotov cocktail to cause a fire at a flat in Käpylä, Helsinki last Monday. The apartment was completely de...
Society
Helsinki Central Library Oodi will opened its doors to the public on 5 December at 8am, a day before Finland’s 101st birthday. Designed by ALA Architects, this library of a new era is an ode to Finnish culture, equality and freedom of expression. Oodi offers everyone an open, public urban space at Kansalaistori Square, right opposite Parliament House. Central Library Oodi is an active and functional meeting point with 2.5 million expected annual visitors....