In the very heart of the land where the conservative Lutheran revival movement Laestadianism originated lies the Saami Church of Jukkasjärvi. Yes, we passed the Ice Hotel and the land of the ice cold Absolut vodka to get here.
Leastadianism was led by pastor and temperance movement leader Lars Levi Laestadius. The altar piece, given by the mining company of LKAB in 1957, shows the local story of the movement. Bror Hjorth was the artist chosen to create the 350 anniversary gift to the church. Ms. Emma Löpare guided us through the story from condemnation to forgiveness.
In short, In the 1820s Laestadius preached that sinners would be punished for their sins. In the 1840s he met a Saami woman (not his wife) that influenced him to tell sinners that they would be forgiven their sins. Laestadius started to use examples from the daily life of people of the Arctic instead of the people in the Middle East, and the movement took off.
To this day the movement is alive in the Arctic area as well as other places, such as small pockets in the USA, Togo, Ghana, Ecuador, Estonia, Germany, UK and others.
Long before Laestadius, the church was built in 1607. It is the first wooden building in Jukkasjärvi and the oldest wooden church in Swedish Lapland. It was built at the market place where the Saami people would meet annually. The church was also built for political purposes.
In short, in 1997 the church added another important feature to the building. A unique organ was made by renowned Saami craftsman, Lars-Levi Sunna. Between the pipes, sits a “controversial” drum asking the Saami people to forgive the past of the Swedish church.
When the church is asking for forgiveness, we are at the heart of any religion. Now Angelo and I will soon be at the very heart of Lars Levi Laestadius call of duty, Karesuando.
What church have you been to that has an extraordinary tale?
Saami Church from Jukkasjärvi to Ghana