Finland Quaker Summer Gathering 2014
Finland Quakers Summer Gathering was held in June at a small Lutheran Conference Centre situated in a forest on a lake near Muhos in Central Finland. 25 people attended, mostly Finns from Finland but some also with connections to Sweden, Norway, the USA, Israel and England. Finnish Quakers are very scattered; it is not uncommon to drive for 3 hours through the snow and ice to attend a meeting in the north of the country so a strong measure of commitment is required. Finland Yearly Meeting detached itself from Sweden Yearly Meeting some 30 years ago, and while there are only 29 members in all, Friends have a very good reputation in the country as after the war American and Canadian Friends took on the responsibility to help rebuild Lapland after the Germans’ scorched earth policy had left it virtually denuded of houses, bridges, schools and all forms of communication.
The purpose of the Gathering was to strengthen the ties between the members of such a scattered community. This was achieved through simply living and working together over the weekend – washing up, cooking, cleaning, worshipping. But more directed sessions were held to enhance the process of coming together. Some of these were arts-based using drawing and painting, music making and creating a mandala from natural materials selected from the forest while two other sessions were more academic and experiential, one being a talk on the history of Quakerism in Finland by a long-established Friend, the other a session in which our individual spiritual journeys were shared in small groups.
By Roger Hill