Spotlight on: 100 Years of Women's Work in Finland
During the month of October, the Finland and Estonia Territory celebrated the centenary of The Salvation Army's Women's Ministries. A long weekend in October marked the territory's joint celebrations of the women's days and the 'Hedvig Day' celebration meeting. The celebrations brought women - and men - together in joyful fellowship.
The centenary celebrations of Women's Ministries began with a joint Women's Day event at the Radisson Blu Seaside Hotel in Helsinki. This pleasant and spiritually nourishing two-day celebration brought together 85 women from all over the territory, both from Finland and Estonia. On Friday, the Women's Days began with a welcome meeting, with a time of prayer, drama, an introductory game and a praise dance. The drama told a true story about a disadvantaged woman, who received a white rose from the leader of the local Home League. This small gesture of kindness opens the woman's heart and helps her to appreciate herself and find life in Christ.
The evening ended with nice dinner and a time of prayer, singing and devotion. During the evening, some participants also introduced themselves and shared how they have found Jesus in their hearts.
Saturday's guest speaker was author and evangelist Maija Nyman. In her talk, Maija spoke about her own life story and about being a woman, about how to act as a woman in different situations. She also highlighted different biblical characters and talked about their role as women. The atmosphere of the Women's Days was warm. People were happy to meet again, make new friends and enjoy the fellowship of sisters in faith.
The Main Event
The Women's Ministries celebrations culminated in the Hedvig Day celebration meeting in the Temple in Helsinki. The warm-hearted gathering was led by Major Metti Saajoranta, with a predication of the Territorial President of Women's Ministries, Colonel Anne-Dore Naud. The meeting started with a joyful performance by a tambourine group led by Captain Anneli Aavik. The audience also got to flex their muscles as Captain Tuula Takala and Cadets Enni Becker and Taina Kaikkonen led the way to Psalm 100 with brisk movements that echoed the words of the psalm. The Chief Secretary, Major Saga Lippo, introduced Hedvig von Haartman, after whom the day was named. Hedvig was a true pioneer, one of the founders/first leaders of The Salvation Army in Finland. She also started the publication of War Cry in Finland.
After a beautiful and moving performance by a singing group led by Captain Kaisu Leino, it was time for greetings. Saga Lippo shared greetings from Mayvor Wärn-Rancken, President of the Finnish Ecumenical Council. In her greeting, the General Secretary said how important it is for women of different ages to come together to share spiritual fellowship, but also to receive spiritual support and help in their own lives. This was followed by a video greeting from Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, The Salvation Army World President of Women's Ministries. In the video, Commissioner Peddle thanked God for raising up women throughout the ages in our territory. She said: 'Think of the women who have gone before us - 20, 50, 100 years ago! I'm sure those women were faithful to God's call, committed to preaching the Word and responding to the needs of the people. Think of what they endured - epidemics, war, economic crises - but they knew and experienced God's victory and provision. Now, in 2022, we acknowledge our heritage is due to their faithfulness! Look around you - think of your sisters and daughters in faith - we stand on the shoulders of women who have gone before us. We honour their legacy of faith, perseverance and compassion.'
The Commissioner also encouraged listeners to connect with each other through testimonies and Bible teaching locally and digitally through The Salvation Army world. You can also read the Commissioner's thoughts on The Salvation Army's Women's Ministries in the 10/2022 special Women’s Ministries issue of War Cry (Sotahuuto). Next in the meeting, the winners of the woollen sock design competition were awarded. Marjata Kariniemi (soldier from Hämeenlinna Corps) received the first prize.
Great is His Faithfulness
The offering in the meeting was collected for the ‘Helping Hand project’ of The Salvation Army's Women's Ministries, to support the Mbagala Girls' Home in Tanzania. Before the sermon, Captain Kaisu Leino sang a solo song, 'My Sister', which she had written especially for the celebration. The song's approachable message certainly resonated with the audience.
In her sermon, the Territorial President of Women's Ministries, Colonel Anne-Dore Naud, recalled that the first ever Home League was convened in 1907 in London, and in Finland it started 1922 in four Corps in Helsinki. Throughout these years, women have found new life in Jesus, found fellowship and the joy of serving. At the heart of the Colonel's sermon was God’s faithfulness. As said in Lamentations 3:21-23, 'Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.' Colonel Anne-Dore Naud said: 'We can always rely on God. God's love and compassion are offered to us anew every day, carrying us through life's joys and sorrows. God's love is unending.'
An altar call followed, where women responded and rededicated their lives to Jesus. After this time of prayer and the words of thanks by the Territorial Commander, Colonel Patrick Naud, and the closing prayer and blessing, the participants went to enjoy some anniversary cake and coffee. Midst the happy chatter it is easy to wish all the best for the next 100 years of Women’s Ministries. 'Finally, sisters and brothers, rejoice!'
Original report by Toni Kaarttinnen
Photos: Mira Vuorenpää and Toni Kaarttinnen