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Finnish Lutherans in America.

1. Finns first came to Am. in the early 1860's. Pioneer pastors: Alfred Elieser Backman (1844–1909; in Michigan 1876–83); J. J. Hoikka (1854–1917; ordained 1883); J. K. Nikander*; K. L. Tolonen (1845–1902; to Am. 1888); J. W. Eloheimo.*

2. Under leadership of J. K. Nikander The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (Suomi Synod) was organized at Calumet, Michigan, March 25, 1890. Other founding mems. included J. J. Hoikka, K. L. Tolonen, J. W. Eloheimo, and 17 laymen representing 9 congs. In 1896 this syn. founded Suomi Coll. and Theol. Sem., Hancock, Michigan Publications included Paimen-Sanomia (founded 1889) and Amerikan Suometar (founded 1899). A plan of cooperation with the ULC through its Immigrant Mission Board was adopted 1920. It supported the work of the Finnish* Missionary Soc. and theologically stood close to the state ch. of Finland. Pres.: J. K. Nikander 1890–98, 1902–19; K. L. Tolonen 1898–1902; John Wargelin, January–June 1919, 1950–55; Alvar Rautalahti 1919–22; Alfred Haapanen 1922–50; Raymond Waldemar Wargelin 1955–62. Suomi Theol. Sem. affiliated with Chicago Luth. Sem., Maywood, Illinois, 1958. The Suomi Syn. became part of the LCA January 1, 1963. Later in 1963 the Suomi Conf. consisting of pastors and congs, of the former Suomi Syn., was organized at Wakefield, Michigan, to assist in spiritual ministration to the Fin.-speaking constituency of the LCA

3. The National Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized 1898 at Rock Springs, Wyoming Official publications: Auttaja 1907–1967); The Lutheran Voice (founded 1936). Home mission work was carried on in several states and Can. Support of the Gospel Assoc. of Fin. (see Finland, Lutheranism in, 4) was replaced by interest in the Mo. Syn. (see Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, The) and The Ev. Luth. Synodical* Conference of North America. Pres.: J. W. Eloheimo 1898–1900; Wilhelm Adrian Mandellöf (1848–1916; to Am. 1899; returned to Fin. 1905) 1900–05; William Williamson (1854–1916) 1905–08; Karl Gustaf Rissanen (1871–1924) 1908–13; Peter Wuori (1869–1921) 1913–18; Arne Wasunta (b. 1891) 1918–22; Karl E. Salonen (b. 1883) 1922–23; Matti Wiskari (b. 1887) 1923–31; Gustaf A. Aho (b. 1897) 1931–53; Jalo E. Nopola (b. 1907) 1953–59; Emil A. Heino (b. 1908) 195–963; Vilho V. Latvala (b. 1923) 1963–64.

After ca. 40 yrs. of close cooperation with the Mo. Syn., during which time all her ministerial students were trained at Conc. Sem., Springfield, Illinois, the NELC merged with the LCMS January 1, 1964. In accord with the Merger Agreement, a Bd. for Fin. Affairs was set up, consisting of 4 mems. of the former NELC and 4 from the LCMS, to study problems connected with ch. work among Fin.-speaking people and suggest ways in which the ch. might best serve these people.

4. Laestadians (followers of L. L. Laestadius*; see Finland, Lutheranism in, 4; also known as Apostolic Luths.) are represented by (a) Apostolic Luth. Ch. of Am. (name adopted 1962; organized 1872 at Calumet, Michigan; called Salomon Korteniemi Lutheran Society after their leader; inc. 1929 as Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church of America); (b) Heidemanians, named after their leader Arthur Leopold Heideman (May, 1862–November 7, 1928) and his son Paul Arthur Heideman (ordained 1916); (c) Firstborn, a branch of the “Ch. of the Firstborn” of Gellivaara, N Swed., which came into existence ca. 1900; (d) New Awakenists, who reflect the con-contemporary New Awakening of Finland; (e) “Evangelicals,” also called “Pollarites” after John Pollari (d. 1945), one of their leaders. Laestadians in gen. insist on conversion by auricular confession and absolution; they have no colleges or sems.; the Firstborn and the “Evangelicals” do not deem it advisable to have trained and ordained ministers. EL, GA

J. L. Neve, History of the Lutheran Church in America, 3d rev. ed. W. D. Allbeck (Burlington, Iowa, 1934); J. I. Kolehmainen, The Finns in America: A Bibliographical Guide to Their History (Hancock, Michigan, 1947); A. Haapanen, Our Church, Suomi Synod: The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (Hancock, Michigan, n. d.); U. Saarnivaara, The History of the Laestadian or Apostolic-Lutheran Movement in America (Ironwood, Michigan, 1947).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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