"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Laestadianism in the USA

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Laestadianism in the USA

Courtesy of Laestadianinfo:

See also: Laestadian Adventures on Youtube


  1. ex falc says...

    Great video! I loved the music, in a reminiscent sort of way. I listen to mostly contemporary christian music now so I don't hear the songs I grew up hearing very often.

    I also wonder how things would be if the Laestadian movement had never divided...

    It is sad that some of the groups are so bitter towards the others when their beliefs are so similar, almost identical.

    I never stop thinking...

    Was this really what Jesus had in mind?

  2. I do not know what Jesus had in mind...but remember the tenth chapter of Matthew, where Jesus said "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household."

    A similar passage is in the 13th chapter of Luke.

    We have not discussed this to my recollection on this forum, but it has crossed my mind a time or three.

  3. very interesting video! I never really knew the details about the AP churches as a whole.

    I believe the music was done in S.C. My brother was there and the pianist is Marcus from Finland. There were many people who were against making the recording- as tho it were a sin- they had to have someone stand at the door and not let the "protesters" in. The ALC does not sing praise songs like "As the Deer" as a rule. They use the blue hymnal and don't introduce new songs-ever.

  4. "P.S. said... The ALC does not sing praise songs like "As the Deer" as a rule"

    To bad I selected a song no laestadian would sing, but it was the song I liked most on the CD. You are correct Markus Warg is the one on the piano.

    By the way, we will have a ALC preacher preaching on the big meeting in Ähtävä/Esse 10-12.7

    His name is Arvi aho, and he will speak on Friday and Saturday.

    The meeting will collect about 7000-10000 persons, a litle depending on the weather.

  5. I know who Arvi Aho is. Amazing amount of people expected! I have to say L.info, I do not agree with the doctrine of the AP churches- tho I was a raised in the ALC.

    First and foremost as your movie states, they believe they were given the power to forgive sins. I find that a insult to my Lord. It is pompous to think that WE have anything, any power...to add to the work he has done on the cross on our behalf. Christ and Christ alone has the power to forgive.

  6. cvow I have also wondered on that passage many times. I think I would like to read it again and in context, then get back to you and that topic to discuss further...

  7. There are some ALC churches which include praise songs regularly. I know of several which do not use the big blue hymnal, and have seen praise songs used at weddings. I like the songs and have a praise songbook at home, but what I don't like to see is when the traditional hymns are not sung at all anymore. Some churches that were formerly affiliated with the ALC have gone the route that PS is talking about, with bands, etc.. I don't care for that at all, personally. Music is one of the things that cause problems now, and I do think there is good reason to be careful in this area. Rock bands is not what church should be about. OALC, IALC and LLC take note, you are fortunate if these things are not causing problems for you. My 2 cents, blunt as usual :-)

  8. "First and foremost as your movie states, they believe they were given the power to forgive sins."

    Well, that's what the Bible says, that believers is given power by God to forgive sins. Most laestadians do not think this is the only way to get sins forgiven, but the movement empazises this way.

    I think most Christians agree with this, since it's clearly written in the Bible, but don't emphasize like laestadians.

    "I find that a insult to my Lord. It is pompous to think that WE have anything, any power...to add to the work he has done on the cross on our behalf."

    Man cannot forgive any sin, but he can, as I say in the movie, deliver forgiveness from God.

    "Christ and Christ alone has the power to forgive."

    That's true, but he can use man to deliver forgiveness.

    Actually the amount of people collected to the services in Esse is very depending on the weather, because Laestadianernas Fridsföreningars Förbund has nowdays a radio station covering the whole area where most of the believers live.

    If it is rainy weather, people stays home and listen to the services. If the weather is good, everyone try to come to the meeting place.

    The Youtube limitation of 10 minutes is a problem, but I will see if I can get Arvis preaching on Youtube after the services, so you can see if he preaches something different behind your backs. ;-)

  9. Norah:

    I understand your feeling about music. But a preference is different then a sin, which many believe different styles of music are. That is where I have a problem. In scripture it says to praise the Lord with clashing cymbals and ten string instruments!

    There is also the cultural side of it. Go to Africa or Guatamala and they are very lively in their worship!

  10. "Amazing amount of people expected! I have to say L.info, I"

    LLC has a meeting 150 km away in Reisjärvi. To that meeting they expect 25000 people, so it is at least tree times bigger than our.

    Peter Lever from USA (the man on this pic
    http://yfrog.com/0612461130551j), will preach also on these services.

    Too bad they are at the same time as our services in Esse. Else I would have been in Reisjärvi.

  11. I hope I have captured LLC doctrine correctly on my video. (dogs and tobacco forbidden inside church)


  12. Laestadius infor says..."Most laestadians do not think this is the only way to get sins forgiven, but the movement empazises this way."

    I think that the majority in the LLC believe that the ONLY way to recieve forgiveness is from another LLC believer. There may be a few who do not believe that, but they keep their thoughts to themselves.

  13. Just got around to watching this. Great video! The music really took me back to my childhood. Between Youth Rallies and Sunday services I've sung all three of those songs in the ALC (although at a much slower tempo; usually one side of the church at a different speed than the other, and the organ at yet another tempo ;-)

  14. PS, I understand what you are saying.. I was thinking about this today. If people want rock bands in church, then I say fine. But if I don't want rock bands in church, I'll find someplace else that suits me. Live and let live. As one of my sisters says.."whatever floats your boat" lol.

    but I will use internetmonk.com again and say this: this trend is not filling a spiritual need for many people. In other words, it doesn't float their boat.

    we live in a great country, in that we can pick and choose. And if this is what you choose, then I say more power to you, I do not condemn you for it.

    Part of my 'letting go' theory of coping with all of life's changes! :-)

  15. Laestadianinfo - I completely agree with 'no dogs in church', although where I live, dogs often try. We have to be sure to close the doors, or we might have 4 legged friends joining us. Personally, I don't have a problem.. but some people do! Shame on them lol

  16. my husband has a lot of problems as a result of the VietNam war. These words were spoken to him in a very casual conversation tonight, and I know that it was extremely helpful to him. He is sleeping soundly as I type. Was it emotional? yes, it was for me. But for the two men involved in the conversation, it was a matter of reassurance and speaking of the forgiveness of Christ, who has paid it all.

    This is the essence, this is how the church is relevant. This is what people need in their lives. It is comfort to troubled souls.

  17. Laestadianinfo7/09/2009 07:00:00 AM

    Anonymous said... Laestadius infor says..."Most laestadians do not think this is the only way to get sins forgiven, but the movement empazises this way."

    Well, with laestadians I meant other than conservative laestadians (LLC). You are correct about what you wrote, that they think the only way to get sins forgiven, is by another LLC.

    From my point of view however LLC in Finland is changing a bit. At least the believiers. Nowdays you can see some of them on our services. That would not had happened a few years ago.

  18. The ALC I grew up in still believes the only way to redemption is by asking another member for forgiveness. We have not taught our kids that. We have taught them they ARE/were forgiven 2000 some odd years ago when Jesus died on the cross. If they apologize for something, I simply say I forgive you.

    The problem with the AP teaching is there is no way to ask forgiveness for all our sins, all the time. Therefore it is hopeless and all souls are lost. I remember as a child fearing going to sleep without asking forgiveness in case I died during the night.

    When Christ died, he said "it is finished." And so it was. Why do people want to add to it?

  19. It’s hard for me to believe anyone laestadian live in a belief that he has to ask forgiveness for every single sin he/she makes. According to Lutheran theology you would be a very busy believer. LOL

    In our branch people ask each other for forgiveness mostly at the Holy Communion, and if someone has made bigger sin, he asks the congregation. During bigger services it is not uncommon someone stands up and ask for forgiveness, but I think this practice is meant most for unbelievers (“for entering the door”).

    In the LLC branch it is quite common people lift their hand when some particular sin comes into mind during the preaching, and the preacher winks back and assures the sin is forgiven.

  20. I meant to say conscience. I have a degree in English, but sometimes I still screw up.


  21. In the IALC, we believe we are forgiven due to God's grace and in receiving Holy communion. I've only heard of people going to another to ask for forgiveness if they believe that they have sinned against that person, or if they have committed a sin that they cannot get off their conscious, they might go to an individual or a preacher, privately, to discuss the matter and to receive, more or less reassurance, that they are forgiven. And like I said, that matter is entirely private.


  22. Theologically ALC is at the same as IALC, but since it is so common (ecpecially with young people), that you ask forgiveness from someone, almost all do it from tens of people, before they enter the altar. It's a lot of crying and shouting going on, which makes the communion last a long time.

    It would be interesting to read more about IALC. Where can I find some material.

  23. It was really taught as I say. Many generations were affected by it. (mostly negative as they move on to other churches)The OALC is even stronger on the point. A 16 year old boy was killed in the OALC about 2 years ago and they LITERALLY said he wasn't saved because there was no recent testimony. (confession)

    It isn't much different then Catholicism, going to confession.

    I never was taught that communion had anything to do with salvation except it was preached if you went to communion with sins on your conscience you would be drinking damnation unto self.

  24. Laestadianinfo, I agree with what you said, that it is not taught that you must confess every single sin every day. I don't remember this being taught when I was growing up, either.. however I was very fearful, and did not have assurance. It seems as though all I heard was law, and didn't hear grace, even if it was preached it seems I just didn't hear it. Over time I began to understand that we are under grace when Christ lives and abides in our hearts. Our flesh sins daily and will never be perfect, but our undying soul is saved regardless. It is sealed, as it says in the first chapter of Ephesians. But it took many years for this to be clear to me.

    Your post at 3:05, you said theologically ALC is the same as IALC, with people asking forgiveness at the altar.. I don't think IALC people do this, did you mean OALC? Or did you mean this was a difference between the two, but otherwise they are the same or similar?

    PS, I sure don't see how anyone could believe a 2 year old is not saved because of unconfessed sin.. oh, my. If that is so, I think it is tragic.

    As far as going to communion, I had a lot of confusion about that when I was young, too. Confession should not be taught 'in an exacting manner', as Luther says. And going to communion if you are basically an unbeliever 'heaps damnation upon you', not having every single sin confessed right up to the minute. There comes a time when we must have the assurance that we are no longer teetering on the edge of being lost..and if not for that assurance, I'd be a mighty miserable person.

  25. Norah--I grew up like you (except in the LLC) always fearing that my last sins had not been forgiven, and that I might've forgotten a sin. Not a very fun way to grow up!! The ministers used to say something along the lines of "the devil will come up and grab you in the darkness", or something...when I was little I'd get up to go to the bathroom, and get scared that the devil was outside the door waiting to get me...I would be so scared that I'd scream until I woke Mom up to come get me. I was like 5 years old, still an innocent child!

    Communion in the LLC usually would consist of the youth going to their parents for forgiveness, couples to eachother, friends to friends. Or if you didn't have anyone standing in line by you who you felt comfortable hugging, then you could always ask the men serving communion. I don't ever remember being taught that our sins "had" to be forgiven before, but then I probably just wasn't listening. hehe

    Norah, you misread PS comment...she said "2 years ago a 16 year old boy was killed..". Not a 2 year old...I think they'd believe thats still under the age of innocence, right? I remember the preachers warning about that too, if we didn't have every last sin forgiven when we died, we would not be saved. They would preach to NEVER enter any place where you wouldn't want to die in (ex:a bar). They would always tell a story about a young man who wanted to "try out the world". He left, and started enjoying "worldly pleasures" (as they'd call it--music, drinking, etc). He soon tired of that, and started making his way back home. He was getting close to home when he was killed in a car accident--Moral of the story, don't even think about leaving for a minute because you might die, and you won't be saved.

    Sry, didn't mean to go on that long...

  26. Norah is right. In the IALC, we typically don't ask people for forgiveness at the altar. I was just saying that sometimes people DO ask another believer for forgiveness, but its the exception rather than the rule. If it is done, its a private moment, probably in the parking lot or not at church, and only when a person is really struggling with something that remains on their conscience after communion or if it will be a while before communion and its causing a lot of internal strife. If, perchance, the person dies before either can happen, we believe God's grace will carry us through, especially considering the contrite heart of the sinner.


  27. YM
    "Communion in the LLC usually would consist of the youth going to their parents for forgiveness, couples to eachother, friends to friends."

    That's exactly how Communion is at ALC in Finland, at least at the more conservative areas.

    Norah: "Your post at 3:05, you said theologically ALC is the same as IALC, with people asking forgiveness at the altar.. I don't think IALC people do this, did you mean OALC?"

    I meant we teologicaly see it as the IALC writer wrote. Asking forgiveness is completely at free will.

    You will not go to hell if you go to the altar without asking forgiveness from some cousine you has failed against, if he is not at the meeting, for example. Not even if he/she is at the meeting. :-)

    It would be interesting to learn some more about IALC theology.

  28. L Info, the IALC operates purely on the individual congregational level and we don't have any Web site or mission. We are not a large group, and we don't consider ourselves Laestadian per se, though of course there probably are similarities because we originate from the Laestadian movement. We have no central offices anywhere. If you want to get in touch with me, you can do through the blog owner. I can try to answer what I can, but I am no theologist.

    --Stranger in a Strange Land

  29. LLLreader sez: I was told that in the OALC, in one case in recent years, that a young couple was told by the preacher that he didn't know if their young child was in heaven. It was horrible for the parents of course. Also, Marian Halberg's youngest children were told she is in hell. Could these stories be true? I keep wanting to think they aren't--surely not--but the notion exists that it's possible.

  30. YM, I can't believe I mixed that up about being a 2 yr old. I was thinking about a child who died accidently in SD and that's what came to mind.. but I still think that 16 yrs old.. hmm, I don't think we could judge that.. That's my opinion.

  31. No, I don't think we can judge that either-only God knows.

  32. Norah- I think we said the same thing-just slighty different versions. Re: living in fear that ALL our sins were forgiven. I call that spiritual abuse. I grew up thinking God was gonna Getcha, just waiting for me to screw up. I did not understand him to be loving and merciful and full of grace until I was a adult. He held a big stick and everything was a sin. Even Christmas trees.

  33. Norah: I think we said the same thing, just slightly different versions of it. RE: living in fear that ALL our sins weren't forgiven. I call that spirtual abuse. Growing up I felt God was out to getcha- holding a big stick. And the God I knew then was definetly a fun wrecker. Everything was a sin, even christmas trees. We LOOKED different, lived different and did not fit in at school or in society. I remember me and my cousins asking forgiveness from each other for seeing t.v. at the mall. It wasn't until I was a adult that I came to know just how big and gracious and loving our God is.

  34. Hey there PS, I would like to share a little 'off the wall' story with you, and see what you think of it..

    When I was about 8 or 9, my Baptist cousin from the city would come and visit us, and she'd continually pester me about 'getting saved'. She wanted me to say the sinners prayer and get saved. Well, I knew that wasn't quite the way we did it in our church, so I was pretty reluctant to do it. I really didn't think I needed to do it! Finally, one summer evening sitting on the bed upstairs in my bedroom on our farm, she convinced me that the time was now. So, I repeated after her, something like this (paraphrased): "Dear Jesus, I confess I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sin. Please come into my heart and save me". And do you know what happened? The most amazing feeling came over me, as if my entire chest was light and full of air, like it could float away. I didn't want her to tell anyone about this, not even her parents. For some reason I thought I'd be in trouble with my own parents lol.. Some time later it came out, and everyone seemed happy, although I kept it pretty much to myself throughout the years.

    And then as I got older, like in my 40's, I began to think that I really was saved at that time, because spiritual things have always been so important to me. I couldn't imagine a life without God in it. So what do you think, PS, do you think that it was the real thing?? I ask you because you are going to a different denomination, although I don't know if it's Baptist or not... but what do you think?

  35. Norah:

    We were always taught that people couldn't be saved that way, but it sounds suspiciously like the ALC method! (confess,believe...) I am sure you were a believer before the sinners prayer but you were reassured of it at the time.

    I attend a community Christian church (livinghopechurch.com) and they pactice sort of the same but there is no exact prayer- our pastor just let's people know it is a heart matter and leads them in prayer- acknowledging sin, leaving the old behind and starting a new life in Christ.
    He also encourages new believers to be baptised. It is not really a option, I believe, and think most converts would want to obey Jesus's command to be baptised.

  36. PS, that method I think would be called 'making a decision for Christ', and that is not what the ALC believes.. It would be said that God calls us, we do not call him. The strange thing is that I actually reluctantly said the prayer, and yet this weird feeling happened. I don't know the answer to it, except that I was so young.. before the age of accountability? It's a mystery to me, but then things of spirit are always mysteries, aren't they! But it's wonderful to come to the realization that God is motivated by love, and not punishment. I agree that often the emphasis is wrong.

    ..and on the other hand, love is the most difficult as well. It would be so much easier if we just had to 'do' something, but no.. we are called to love.

  37. Norah- The thing is, who's to say if it is God calling or someone making a decision for Christ? I would say God is calling them or why bother saying a prayer?

    I think it is a lot like the ALC. acknowledge your sin, ask forgiveness...just not in a "exacting maner" We can't say everyone who uses the AP method is saved or correct. I asked forgiveness many times as a ritual when I was young, with no feeling or meaning behind it.

    I spent a good part of my life in the Hockinson church.

  38. PS said: "The thing is, who's to say if it is God calling or someone making a decision for Christ?"

    I know! We really can't judge the motivation, can we.. theologians would have a lot to say about this, but not I. :-)

  39. This is a fundamental thing that I think we all have to remember -- what we see and perceive is not necessarily the truth, and that's why so many misunderstandings come about. People see -- or think they see -- other people doing things and make judgments based on their perception. Unfortunately, it seems that in our Laestadian churches, that pursuit of judgment has become the wedge that has driven many people apart. Who can say that because someone does or does not ask forgiveness in some prescribed way -- or who does not "appear" to show "real remorse and repentance" -- is not also a child of God and that what we perceive does not matter a whit.

    I remember a discussion about giving money to street beggars. Many people don't do it because "they just want it for drugs and booze anyway." Well, maybe that's true, and maybe it's not true. If we could live a truly Christian life, we would give as we are able, recognizing that the unwashed face looking at us is also the face of Christ -- not worrying or judging what the person is going to do with it -- then I think we'd be closer to a good solution.

    If only we could just live our lives in the best way we can, trying to serve the Lord and each other, and leave the judging to a higher power, how much better off we all would be!

  40. OOOPS. It's catching on Norah, this is actually P.S.

  41. CVOW, I think you were touched by an angel. Your piece above hit home with me. Bless you! SISU

  42. You are so right cvow. I agreed on every word.

    BTW, if you click on my nick, it will take you to a video about last weekends services in Reisjärvi (not having very much to do with this topic, but anyway).

  43. Well said, cvow.. 'there but for the grace of God go I'..

    It makes me wonder why we are so willing to build walls. Are we useful to anyone, including God or ourselves, when we are inside the walls?

    Junque? do I have to call you Junque? lolol There must be an inside story to that name! Norah is just my name backwards, sorta.. but Junque Couture.. hmmmm :-)

  44. Norah

    I have a blog junquecouturehome.blogspot.com and a web boutique. I was signed on for that and bopped over hear to take a peek.

  45. LLLreader sez: Regarding the people living on the street--many are living with mental illness that prevents them from functioning in the normal world. I personally am responsible for a person who, without my help, would be out there with them. The amount of time and energy it takes to find assistance for the mentally ill is staggering. I had to hire an attorney in order to get disability for the person. If each person out there had someone who would arrange appointments, give rides to meeting, fill out paperwork, keep medications in order, and so on--then there would be a lot fewer people sleeping under bridges. The problem is that families of these souls eventually burn out--and who can blame them? It's exhausting! Needless to say, I give money to those homeless ones--if they use it for booze to quiet the voices in their head for a few sweet moments--what do I care?

  46. You are quite right, cvow. Trying to cure myself of "judgmentalism" is the most demanding challenge I have ever taken on, but most definitely worth every effort. I think that we humans are by nature prone to judgments. Having grown up OALC, "curing" myself at times feels nigh hopeless. I settle for awareness and damping it down.
    Many blessings, cvow. Still hope to visit in person sometime. Many "Trials" er Trails

  47. Hi Trails!
    I agree -- I find myself very short in being able to do things without those niggling thoughts of whether my "help" is doing good or being wasted. I don't know whether that's really just our upbringing though, as I hear similar comments from many people of all faiths and backgrounds.

    I will be very disappointed if we do not manage to connect at some point. I really look forward to that day when we can, Pikku serkku!

    Sisu, your sentiment was extemely kind, but I fear the only way angels touch me is the entire legion of them who must daily ignore everyone else in order to keep me safe -- and then crawl home in the evening with bedraggled wings to report to the Lord "you would not believe what that idiot did today!"

    Se sanottu, sippeinsä varjoisa minä haluan levähtää ikuisesti.

  48. O.K. Cvow-

    you lost me on your last post...