Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Laestadians on Facebook

Someone recently brought these links of Laestadian groups on Facebook to my attention. I thought they were worth sharing:

Apostolic Lutherans (ALC) Description: Finally...a group on facebook for all us APs. The site contains pictures of various "youth," the biggest bonfire I've seen, and the 2009 Convention.

Laestadian Lutheran (LLC) Description: Welcome to all who believe! Note: this is not the official Laestadian Lutheran site. Please visit laestadianlutheran.org for the Laestadian Lutheran Church website. Not much activity here, but there was a conversation on movies and temptation that reminded me of my own youth.

Lars Levi Laestadius Description: This is a group for all people influenced by the christian revival movement of Lars Levi Laestadius. His abbreviated name is LLL. Laestadius was a botanist and a preacher that created a christian revival in northern Sweden and Finland in the mid to late 1800's. Today, those that follow his doctrine are known as Apostolics and/or Laestadians. You do not have to be a member of a Laestadian or Apostolic group to join this site. This site is open to everyone, as I do not believe in exclusion. Disclaimer: This site has not been endorsed by any specific church group and is not attempting to promote any specific church group. The "Extoots" of Facebook. A couple of years ago the Admin of this group posted the link here, but it may have been lost in all the noise of a conversation on conversion.

Interestingly, I did a search for "Laestadius" on Facebook and came up with all kinds of people who shared that last name. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Laestadius had familial as well as spiritual descendants. I wonder how common a name Laestadius is back in Finland/Sweden?

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Tale of Two Conventions

Two denominations dear to my heart had their conventions last week. The ALC annual convention, covered brilliantly and personally by our own Norah, and the once-every-three-years Episcopal Church General Convention in Anaheim, California which is winding down this week.

While these two denominations could not be more different, reading the online coverage of both I was struck by a few weird similarities. They both have conventions, both have delegates, both have controversies, both have been bad at evangelism, both have a shall-we-say "reserved" style of worship, both are increasingly using information technology to spread their message, and both are small, distinctive denominations within a much larger Christian universe.

Scratch the surface, however, and similarities give way to radical differences. While the ALC denies the vote to some congregations over King-James-Onlyism, the Episcopal Church debates gay bishops and same-sex marriages. One denomination has only 7,000 members (according to Laestadianinfo's video) while the other has over 2 million. The ALC proceedings are closed to outsiders in the sense that there is little information online about resolutions voted upon, while the Episcopal process is very public.

What really prompted this post, however, is a sermon Brian McLaren gave at the Episcopal convention on the subject of evangelism (full text PDF here). For those of you not familiar with McLaren, he was listed by Time Magazine as one of America's top 25 most influential evangelicals, and is part of the emergent church conversation, which among other things is seen by some as a way to move past the conservative/liberal Christianity divide.

This ministry of reconciliation gives us a vibrant new identity, according to Paul. We are not merely religious insiders huddled in our stained glass ghettos, nor are we religious outsiders living without reference to the living God, but instead we are God's peace ambassadors, insiders who intentionally move outside to invite – actually, plead is Paul's word – to plead with others to be reconciled to God.

Heh. He said "God's peace." ;-) Minus the stained glass, I thought these words could apply to the ALC and other Laestadian traditions just was well as it applies to the Episcopal Church. I also thought his message of reconciliation was also applicable to the fragmentation that has occurred both in Laestadianism and among all of us who count ourselves as ex-Laestadians.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

2009 Apostolic Lutheran Church Convention

Based on some of the comments, I thought it would be useful to start this separate thread for discussion of all things related to the 2009 ALC Convention, currently underway in St. Cloud, MN.

Sounds like Norah and ex-falc will be attending the convention. I'd like to hear your impressions.

I'm also re-posting some information from A.L.:

ALC has an annual convention which is held in a different location each year. This year it will be in St. Cloud, MN, hosted by the Kingston, MN congregation.

Last year it was held in the Twin Cities (Plymouth Apostolic Lutheran and North Apostolic Lutheran Churches co-hosting). 2008 marked the 100th ALC annual convention. And I believe Minneapolis wanted to host because the first ALC convention was held in Minneapolis. (I may be wrong about this, but I think it is so.) The 2008 convention was held on the campus of Bethel University, St. Paul, MN. Numerous photos and other artifacts documented the history of the ALC, particulary the convention history.

Laestadian movement history was also represented. I seem to recall that they displayed the panels documenting the history of the Laestadian movement which were created by the LLC for the 200th anniversary of the birth of L. L. Laestadius in 2000. I believe this display traveled about the country during 2000 and perhaps after. It may be permanently housed at the Finnish American Heritage Center and Archives, Hancock, Michigan. I'm not absolutely certain about this.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Something Laestadian, or Just Me?

The following is the biblical story of Abraham and Sarah, presented as a Godly Play script.



I've posted before about Godly Play, and what a great Sunday School curriculum I think it is. What I haven't said is that I have a certain reaction to this way of presenting the story, and I've long been curious about whether my reaction is "just me" or something from my Laestadian upbringing.

So in the spirit of experiment I invite you to view the story, and post your reactions in the comments. Maybe your reaction will be the same as mine, maybe it will be different. Maybe it will give me some insight into myself, my Laestadian upbringing, or both.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What Has Laestadianism Contributed?

I found a cool web site yesterday called World Prayers - Prayer Archive. According to the site description, it exists to gather "the great prayers from all spiritual traditions around the world into a unified nonprofit archive; for the purpose of inspiration, study and cross cultural appreciation."

I especially got a kick out of the Prayer Wheel. You can click to "spin" the wheel and get a random prayer.

I was struck by the similarities of prayer across very different religious traditions, as well as the differences.

The site has many Christian prayers from different cultures, and this of course made me wonder if there are any distinctively Laestadian prayers that could be added to the archive.

One of the things I find disappointing about Laestadianism that it hasn't created any great art or literature. It hasn't seemed to me as if it has created anything of beauty for the ages.

I would love to be mistaken on this point. So if you know of any examples of distinctively Laestadian prayer, art, or anything else, please post a comment.