LEAF – The Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland
The Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland (LEAF) is an association that works inside the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF). It does both domestic and overseas missionary work. Its aim is to spread the gospel of Christ, and to circulate literature that abides in the Bible and the Lutheran confession.
THE ORIGIN OF THE EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT
Fredrik Gabriel Hedberg (1811-1893), the founder of the evangelical movement, worked as a pastor mainly in southwest Finland, in the region nearby Turku. In his spiritual struggles he searched for help in the books of Luther. This led him to trust, not his own feelings, but the grace of God, and in the fact that God acts through his word and sacraments. His previous connections to Moravianism helped him to adopt a joyful concept of faith. The evangelical movement spread quickly among both the clergy and the laity, beginning from southwest Finland to Ostrobothnia and to Vyborg and its surroundings. The evangelical movement was organized in 1873, when LEAF was founded. Originally, the association worked with both Finnish and Swedish-speaking communities. But in 1922, Svenska Lutherska Evangeliföreningen i Finland was founded as a separate association for the Swedish-speaking.
The central basis for our work is the fact that God acts through his word and sacraments: The Holy Baptism and the Holy Communion. Through them, God is offering salvation, brought by Jesus when he died on the cross for everyone. This freely given salvation is, above all, a cause for joy. This can be seen in the songbook of the evangelical movement, Siionin Kannel (The Harp of Zion).
For us, it is especially important to cherish the religious concepts of Lutheranism. Therefore, we have translated and published numbers of Luther’s books. Through an extensive project we have published over 20,000 pages of Luther’s texts and an additional 40,000 pages including other Lutheran teachers and Church Fathers in Finnish in a collection called Kirkon aarteita (Treasures of the Church, publ. 2011). As far as we know, this is the first of its kind and there are only few university libraries that match its extencity.
THE EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT TODAY
LEAF is locally organized in 350 local associations consisting of 17,000 members altogether. In some of the biggest cities (Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Jyväskylä, Lahti) LEAF has its own premises that are consecrated churches. Furthermore, there are about 30 prayer houses as meeting places in other areas. We organize The National Gospel Festival every summer in different locations, which gathers over 10,000 participants every year. There are 10 evangelical folk high schools, and 12 residential colleges.
THE FOREIGN MISSIONARY WORK
LEAF started its foreign missionary work in 1900 with Japan as the first mission field. Since the 1970s, we have carried out missionary work also in Kenya, Zambia, Cameroun, South-Sudan, Papua-New-Guinea, Burma, Germany, Estonia, and Russia. LEAF has about 30 missionaries altogether. Currently, our aim is to increase our mission work in areas where there are only few Christians.
VARIOUS FIELDS OF WORK
LEAF works inside the local parishes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. We arrange evangelistic events, Bible congresses, church services, camps, and lectures on the Bible. In LEAF we also focus on different selective groups like children, the youth, the students, and the families to support them in their specific phases of life. LEAF works through the radio and printed media by publishing three periodical magazines. They are Sanansaattaja (The Messenger), a magazine for young people called Nuotta, and Vinkki, a children’s magazine. We have about 50 domestic employees and half of them work from the headquarters of the LEAF in Helsinki.
Pastor of international work in Finland
Rev. Richard Ondicho
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Our work needs supporters. You can pray that we reach out to new people with the Gospel of Christ or support our work financially.
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