St. Augustine, FL – Recently, OCMC was pleased to welcome guests from Finland: Aino Nenola, Director of Orthodox Missions, and Outi Vasko, Vice President of Orthodox Missions and Ortaid Project Coordinator. Ms. Nenola and Ms. Vasko spent a week consulting and sharing information with OCMC staff during their visit to St. Augustine, FL. The goal of their visit was to continue building the relationship between their organizations and the OCMC and to work with the Mission Center in exploring the future growth of their mission efforts.
OCMC Executive Director Fr. Marin Ritsi said of the visit, “Ministries form North America and Finland coming together to strategize about offering a global witness and spreading the Faith is a significant development for the Orthodox Church.”
The Finnish Orthodox Church has been an autonomous Church under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople since 1923, but the history of Orthodoxy in Finland goes back over a thousand years. There were approximately 60,000 members in 2002, and the Church has been steadily growing in recent years.
In 1977, the Finnish Orthodox Church established its own missionary organization, Ortodoksinen Lähetys ry (Orthodox Missions). This organization has been active mainly in eastern Africa. More recently, the Church created a development aid organization called Ortaid. Ortaid is devoted to the relief of material deprivation in areas with an Orthodox population.
Ms. Nenola and Ms. Vasko held meetings with each department, sharing about the missions programs in place within the Finnish Orthodox Church and listening to OCMC’s current mission strategies. Staff members from both countries learned a great deal, and this opportunity to build relationships across continents was a blessing to all involved.
While in Florida, Ms. Nenola and Ms. Vasko were interviewed by John Maddex of Ancient Faith Radio. In their interview they expressed their desire to see the missionary efforts of the Orthodox Church of Finland grow and to realize greater cooperation with OCMC.
It is the hope of Fr. Martin that this cooperation will grow in the coming years. Ms. Nenola’s and Ms. Vasko’s visit was a step towards implementing a plan to foster dialogue, partnership and cooperation among Orthodox mission ministries abroad. Opportunities for immediate as well as future points of cooperation were identified.
Please continue to pray for OCMC and for our Finnish brothers and sisters working to share the Gospel. May this initial meeting lead to future cooperation for the sake of missions!