Studia Historica Septentrionalia 63


Tuomo Tapio Törmänen, The frontier parish of Kuusamo during the Winter War

The effects of the Winter War, fought between Finland and the atheist Soviet Union, were deeply felt in the parish of Kuusamo. In the autumn of 1939, preparations for a possible war were made in the parish by encouraging patriotism, especially in the frontier region. The threat of war made many inhabitants of Kuusamo join the Laestadian revival movement. The parish being situated at the frontier was one of the reasons, why the Winter War had such a strong impact in the parish of Kuusamo. For example, one of the two parish churches, Paanajärvi frontier church, was destroyed during the War.

As operating was difficult, the war put, for the most part, a halt to usual activities of the parish. The inhabitants of Kuusamo were forced to evacuate in the vicinity of Oulu. The evacuees participated in the activities of local parishes. One of the pastors from Kuusamo held services for evacuees in Pudasjärvi. Another pastor, Antti Poukkula, joined his parishioners in the front and continued his ministry there, which, in the long run, had a positive influence on how the church and pastors were seen in Kuusamo.

The end of the War created a new situation for the parish to cope with. A significant part of the old parish was now on the wrong side of the border, due to the Moscow Peace Treaty. The parish activities in support of the frontier population had to be reorganized. The fear of the Soviet Union among the clergy was no less, than it had been before the War. Shortly after the War, the Laestadians in Kuusamo sought to recruit a pastor with Laestadian background. Due to war-time experiences, Laestadian self-esteem was now on the upside in the post-war parish of Kuusamo.

Takaisin Studia Historica Septentrionalia 63