Saturday, June 19, 2010

The small, old, wooden church of Sodankylä

On thursday night I spent the evening with my friends Amel, Sally and Janka. Sally had been asked to give a short reading at the old wooden church in Sodankylä as they were holding multi national service at 6pm.

Forgetting the language issues, this was quite unusual for two reasons: The church holds services there very rarely and is only ever open during a brief period in the summer. It is a popular venue for weddings then though.

Some, like this couple, elect to arrive the old fashioned way.. by boat. This image was in the local newspaper a couple of years ago. Nice eh?

The church held this service in tandem with the time that the Sodankylä Midnight Sun Film Festival is being held. I don't think this service has been run before.. or at least, if it has been, I have not been aware of it. However, I am not a member of any of the church groups here. Sally however, has a little girl that goes to the mother and toddler groups and that was how she got to be involved. So, we (the international lot!) decided that we would go and support our friend.

Actually, there were only a handful of people that went.. I don't think it was well advertised to tourists, but Sodankylä is quite good at not advertising events! I guess, you could see that as part of the olde world charm.

As usual, as soon as you enter the church, you feel a dramatic drop in temperature. The little wooden church is very old, it was built in 1689! It is situated right at the edge of the Kitinen river and is sitting on top of many graves apparently.. Laplanders of old that wanted to be buried under the church. It has a lovely feel to it however and I always end up sitting there, wondering just who, over the years, has sat just where I sit. If there are any electrics in there, they are very limited and there is certainly no lighting!

As you can see from the plan, it is only small.... :D

It was renovated extensively in 1926, but fully in keeping with the area, the local workforce used only local materials - even the nails were hand made! As you can see, prior to this, the church was very weary!

One can only imagine how dark and how cold it would have been all those centuries ago for the devout folk that travelled many, many miles - arriving during the winter by reindeer sled, through the dense forests and over frozen winter rivers to join the congregation there weekly. The late well known local painter, Alariesto, painted this image of the church...which gives an idea of how it was.

I didn't like to take pictures during the service, but save to say that Sally did her speech very well! It was an interesting service, the female priest had some very interesting things to say, aimed at the normal person of today. 'God is in your rucksack, he is with you always' was one sentence I remembered. The service was in English, with Finnish, Saami and German songs. That was different! :D

The choir sang the English songs phonetically.. many of them not understanding the actual english words, so they sang the sounds as they had written them down phonetically in Finnish. I would not have known, had Sally not told me! They also did very well in the semi light.. although a few folk had mini headlights straps on their head, in order to see what they were singing.

This is the altar.

They have a lovely wooden Bear guarding the entrance too.. I love it! Well, I love Bears, especially standing Bears! This one looks SO happy!

Afterwards we went for a drink, enjoying the atmosphere at the local Film Festival. That however, is another blog!

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