"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Alphabet Soup

Friday, September 16, 2011

Alphabet Soup

Concerned's recent comment reminded me that I often take for granted that readers will know the alphabet soup of acronyms that we all often use on this site to refer to various things within Laestadianism.

I know I hate it when people use jargon or acronyms that I don't understand, so I thought I'd post a few here for everyone's benefit.

If I have missed any, please post in the comments. :-)

LLL = Lars Levi Laestadius, founder of Laestadianism

ALC or ALCA = Apostolic Lutheran Church of America (Federation)
FALC = First Apostolic Lutheran Church
LLC = Laestadian Lutheran Church
OALC = Old Apostolic Lutheran Church


  1. There is one more...
    IALC - Independent Apostolic Lutheran Church. In the old days known as the Pollarites.

    1922 – First Apostolic Lutheran Church (led by Paul Heideman and Walter Torola) schismed from FALC. At this same time, the Pollarites led by John Pollari schismed into the Independent Apostolic Lutheran Church, sometimes referred to as the Pollarites.

    Is there anyone besides me that has attended church services of all 5 groups? It's interesting to see what "rules" each group thinks is important to follow. In my "Search4Truth", I needed to find out about these groups, and the reasons why they split. When I was young, growing up in the FALC, I only knew about two of them. The Laestadian Lutheran Church (LLC) and the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church(OALC). The Laestadian Lutheran Church (LLC) split from the FALC in the 1970's and I remember hearing people calling them heretics and too legalistic since the LLC kids couldn't play high school sports. The Old Apostolics were called the huivilinens which was in reference to them wearing scarves on their heads. I never knew about the ALC or IALC until later, after I started researching the history of the Laestadian movement. When I left the FALC, I still thought Laestadius was a prophet so I thought maybe I would join another LLL church group that would be more kind and welcoming than the FALC was. Once I attended church at the other places, it dawned on me that they were all basically preaching the same thing. The only things different were a few small things, that are completely irrelevent to me, like some can play sports, some can't. Some can wear earings and wear makeup while others can't. How silly and stupid to divide people over stuff this stupid. Is that what Jesus would do? Come on people. This church history learning experience also led me to believe that Laestadius was not a prophet so today I have no affiliation with any LLL based church.

    Having been to all 5, here is my rating system, from best to the worst spiritually abusive group. I dare someone not from the OALC to attend a OALC service. That was a big eye opener.
    1) ALC (best of all groups by far)
    2) IALC
    3) LLC/FALC - about the same.
    4) OALC (worst)

    1. What is the oalc the worst?

    2. Why is the oalc the worst?

    3. I think they are probably the most severe, strict, and punishing of those who leave maybe.

  2. I would appreciate any insight anyone has. I was raised in an Apostolic Church. Not FALC, not OALC, but it had the words Apostoli LUutheran in the name. We could wear make up, go to dances , and have pierced ears. The "real" Apostolic kids ignored us. We had services in Finnish...I have relatives in Battle Ground and New Hampshire, and have always wondered how "Apostolic " I am. I no longer attend any church really, but have always been curious where I fit in.

  3. CCEdna,

    You were highly likely raised in the ALC(Apostolic Lutheran Church of America/Federation). You should count your blessings that you were raised in that church. That is the only laestadian based church that is going in a healthy direction, in my opinion. There were some ALC kids that went to the school I went to, but I never knew about them because they blended so well in with the rest of the community. Everyone knows who the OALC, FALC, and LLC'ers are because they stick out like a sore thumb. Especially if you live in an area with a high concentration of them. The ALC has it's issues too, but overall they are much more loving and kind than the other groups. If you no longer attend the church, are you still welcomed and accepted by your family? If you left the FALC, LLC, or OALC, the second you formally left the church, people would stop greeting you with gods peace and would quit inviting you to church gatherings.

  4. The OALC has been, at least in the past, referred to as esikoinen, or firstborn. I don't really know the history behind this name. In the Battle Ground area, they are also called (somewhat derisively) bunners or bunheads due to the way the women tend to wear their hair. Sometimes the ALC'ers get called bunners but they will be quick to correct you that they most certainly are not members of THAT group.

    The LLC was formerly known as the American Association of Laestadian Congregations (AALC) but changed the name to avoid acronym confusion with the American Association of Lutheran Churches. Before the split, the FALC and the LLC were collectively known as heidemann after one of the leaders of a yet early split.

    One book on the history (and the many schisms) of the Laestadian movement is A Godly Heritage by Aila Foltz and Miriam Yliniemi. (Also available on Amazon.) Perhaps if I read the book I'll find out the history behind the name. :-)

  5. My mother has mentioned the "federation." I didn't so much quit as fade away. Left for college, moved away for work...through a series of events, my original church ended up in a new building with a new name, dropping the word "Apostolic." This bothered my parents so they relocated to another church that still had the name. It is also ALCA?
    I married a Catholic and we are raising my daughter Catholic. My parents didn't have an issue with that (or at least not an issue they ever voiced) My parents's minister did ask me once how I fit in religiously as my parents are Apostolic, my sister and her family are ELCA, and my husband and daughter are Catholic...I just smiled and said I have the best of all the worlds...I sort of feel like I should become a Buddhist or something to round it out. Just on a journey right now trying to understand organized religion.

  6. Federation = ALC = ALCA = Apostolic Lutheran Church of America.

    "Apostolic Lutheran Church of America" is a non-profit corporation incorporated in the State of Michigan. Most of the affiliated churches (around 60) go by the name Apostolic Lutheran Church but there are a few by other names. The ALCA is comprised of member churches; there are no "individual" members. The board of directors is elected from the membership of the member churches.

    There are a few churches that go by the name "Apostolic Lutheran Church" that are not affiliate members of the ALCA.

  7. I am just amazed that are a corporation and not a church recognized. If they are such a grand church why aren't there more members that stay. People see the cult they really are. Once away from them one really sees what they are. It can be really shocking later once distancing away from them. Ask them what and why they believe what they do, their answers are even wilder.

  8. You guys, please quit it! Why can't we just love each other? You talk about the oalc. You talk about how terrible each one is. How lucky i am!! I fit in in the least bad category! I am from the apostolic Lutheran church of america,the federation. But i have attended the oalc and ppl were kind and welcoming. I dont doubt there are losers among them. There are in every group. You talk about how they should act toward you? Maybe a better attitude would be to show them how its done. I feel a deep sorrow that there is division among the different churches. Jesus said let he that is without son among you cast the first stone.

  9. Do you think they are better because of their teachings? A few years ago there was a link on this blog, it was named, Finn forge, voice of the elders, a break away a l c preacher, he claimed that the Federation believed that there are those that are child hood Christians, and therefore did not need conversion. Was that fued settled? What was the conclusion?

  10. They are not any better, if they don't know that everyone is born into Satan's camp.Adam had his God wires cut, and we are born that way. It is only by grace thru faith we get rewired. Somewhere along the line that must happen. And it's not by baptism.

  11. I want this to be a non-religious post. I am a medical provider in Clark County and have had many adult and child patients that have complained about bullying related to their religious differences from the majority in the Yacolt, Amboy area. Generally the story includes bullying related to Apostolic Christians (Bun Heads, Bunners, etc) creating an unbearable environment in school for children that are not of the same religion. Since the stories are so frequent, and span time, it seems like an epidemic. It certainly does not show any qualities of Christ. I've had patients move school districts and finish high school at Clark College because the problem is so bad. I actually have sympathy for the bullies because their families can be so large, that these children are raised by their siblings and not their parents. The result of this isn't always good, acting out is inevitable and Christ like qualities of love, patience, and kindness are not natural when biologically competing for nurturing to an unavailable parent.

  12. Dear Medical Provider in Clark County:

    The youth bullying issue has been discussed on this blog many times, and it's a concern in just about every community in which a single Laestadian group becomes the population majority.

    One of the issues, I think, is that when a single Laestadian group becomes more visible, you begin to see its inner workings and the behavior patterns. I grew up as sort of an insider-outsider of a Laestadian environment, and the inner-group bullying and social relational aggression I saw rivaled any high school anywhere. You see this in strict sects such as the Amish. Believe me, being an insider in this group and among the bullied is no picnic. I've seen it with my own eyes of Laestadian children bullied and ostracized by their own group members and as teens they try to drift away, only to be shunned by their families for leaving their religion. It takes a lot of rebuilding to overcome this. I can't imagine what this kind of bullying might manifest itself when the Apostolics become the majority. Most of the time Apostolic kids are in the minority and fill the position in their schools of banding together in a tight pack and not making waves, flying below the radar and waiting out graduation when they tend to get married within a few months to a couple of years.

    As an outsider, it must be very difficult to witness. It is even harder to do anything about it. Talking to the fathers of the bullies might be a first step, but many times, this community would see the correction as proof that their community is being persecuted. Or that their child is righteous and above the others as being part of this spiritual elite.

    I also suspect that any teacher or administrator who takes on the bullying issues might find themselves in hot water with the local school board, as often the school boards are comprised of the group in majority areas.

    What do you think could be some first next steps?