What's This About? 2016
During the second weekend of July, in the Myyrmäki area, you might see thousands of people you've never seen before. Some of them will probably look a bit lost, some might just look quite happy to be there. You'll probably hear some singing, witness a lot of traffic and wonder: “What on earth is going on?”
Herättäjäjuhlat is the biggest yearly gathering of the Awakening movement (herännäisyys or körttiläisyys), organised in a different town each year. This year, the people and parishes of Vantaa are hosting the event and will be expecting around 30 000 – 40 000 people. Most of the program takes place in Myyrmäen Urheilupuisto and the football stadium, but there are events all over Vantaa.
This year's theme, taken from a hymn, is Kahden maan kansalainen, ”A citizen of two countries”. It refers to Christians having a dual citizenship: we are living on this Earth, yet we belong to God's Kingdom as well. The theme also encompasses the multicultural reality of Vantaa and the city's role as a transport hub, connecting Finland to the rest of the world.
Join us on the bench
You are most welcome to herättäjäjuhlat, even if we might not share a common language. The main events of the program are hour-long services (seurat, here's a link to the program), where a few speakers share thoughts about faith, hope, charity and mercy and where we sing hymns together. This is all in Finnish, but you can always ask someone close by if they'd like to translate some of it to you.
Even if you don't understand everything, the tone of the common singing of old hymns may speak for itself. Usually people listen sitting on long benches (seurapenkki), or they might wander around the area, meeting old and new friends. On Sunday we have Mass (messu), which is a regular Lutheran Mass.
Most of the program is free of charge. For example, in Energia Areena we have a lot of activities for kids. During the weekend, there are some concerts and other events that have a moderate entrance fee or a voluntary program leaflet fee, usually 5–15 euros.
We are also looking for volunteers to help before, during and after the event. You can register at vapaaehtoistyo.fi/herattajajuhlat. Speaking even a tiny bit of Finnish might be helpful, but not required.
What is Awakening movement?
The Awakening movement (herännäisyys or körttiläisyys in Finnish) is one of the old religious revival movements in Finland. Its roots are in the 18th century. We are a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland – and anyone who shares a bench with us is already considered “one of us”. The movement is loose, and there are no requirements to join.
The basis of the movement is in honesty and humility, and in the mercifulness of God. God is great and humans are small. One's faith may be weak or even non-existent, one may feel timid and only long for God in an unexplained way, and still be the recipient of God's great mercy. You can find more information about the movement and its history on Wikipedia.
Myyrmäki football stadium, July 8 to July 10, 2016.
Main events are Päiväseurat on Saturday at 1pm and Mass on Sunday at 10 am. Other program includes services, singing, concerts and discussion panels, as well as events and activities for children, families and young people.
Herättäjäjuhlat has its own radio station Körttiradio (107,4 MHz), which broadcasts all of the services as well as music and other programming.