Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

Helsingin yliopisto, Helsinki 2006

Ihanteena vapaaehtoisuus

Diakoniatyö Porvoon hiippakunnan seurakunnissa, erityisesti Iitin ja Tampereen rovastikunnissa vuosina 1897-1923

Heimo Rinne

Väitöskirja, joulukuu 2006.
Helsingin yliopisto, teologinen tiedekunta, kirkkohistorian laitos.

The Ideal of Volunteerism. An institutional approach to social welfare work in the parishes of the Diocese of Porvoo especially in the deaneries of Iitti and Tampere, Finland, in the years 1897-1923

Social welfare work (also known as diakonia) has achieved a high status in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Since 1944, provisions of the Finnish Church Act have obliged each parish to employ at least one deacon or deaconess. This study sets out to examine the background and development of social welfare work in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland from the 1890s to the 1920s, by which time social welfare work had become an established practice in the Church.

The study investigates the development of social welfare work on the level of parishes. The main source material was collected from sixteen parishes in the Diocese of Porvoo especially in the deaneries of Iitti and Tampere. In the 1890s, two approaches were used in church social work in Finland. The dioceses of Kuopio, Savonlinna and Turku pursued a congregational approach to social work, while the Diocese of Porvoo employed an institutional approach, mainly because of the influence of Bishop Herman Råbergh. This study charts the formation of church social work in Finnish parishes, which took place during a period of tension between the two approaches.

The institutional approach to church social work adopted by the Diocese of Porvoo was based on the German system of Asisters= houses@, in which deaconess institutes sent parish sisters to serve congregations. The parish or, in many cases, a separate association dedicated to church social work paid an annual fee to the deaconess institute, which took care of the parish sisters in old age. In the institutional approach, volunteers were recruited to carry out church social work. It was considered as inappropriate to use tax revenue or other public funding for church social work, which was supposed to be based on Christian love for one=s fellow humans and the needy, and for which only voluntary financial contributions were supposed to be used.

In the congregational approach, church social work was directly based on the efforts of the parish. The approach relied on the administrative bodies of parishes and the Church, and tax revenue collected by the parishes, as well as other forms of public funding, could be used to carry out the social welfare work. The parishes employed deacons and deaconesses and paid their salaries.

The approaches described above were not pursued in their ideal forms; instead, many variations existed. However, in principle, the social welfare work undertaken by the parishes of the Diocese of Porvoo was based on the institutional approach, while the congregational approach was largely employed elsewhere in Finland. Both of the approaches were viable. Parishes began to employ deacons and deaconesses as of the 1890s. The number of parishes which had hired a deacon or deaconess increased particularly in the 1910s, by which time 60% of parishes had employed one. This level was maintained until 1944 when each parish in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland was obliged to employ a deacon or deaconess.

Deaconesses usually worked as travelling nurses. The autonomous status of Finland as part of the Russian Empire did not give Finns the right to develop legislation on social affairs and health care. Consequently, the legislation process did not begin until Finland gained its independence in 1917. The social welfare work carried out by parishes and a number of voluntary organisations satisfied the emerging need for medical treatment in Finnish society. Neither the government nor the municipalities had sufficient resources to provide this treatment.

Based on the ideal of volunteerism, the institutional social work practiced in the Diocese of Porvoo ran into serious difficulties at the end of the First World War. Because of severe inflation, prices began to rise as of 1915 and tripled in 1917-1918. During the same period, Finnish society went through a deep crisis which escalated into Civil War in spring 1918. This period of economic and social turmoil marked a turning-point which led to a weakening of the status of institutional social work in parishes. Voluntary efforts were no longer sufficient to maintain the practice. In contrast, congregational social work, which was based on public funding, was able to cope with the changes and survived the crisis.

The approach to social work adopted by the Diocese of Porvoo turned out to be no more than a brief detour in the history of social work in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. At the start of the 1920s, the two approaches were integrated into a common vision for establishing church social work as a statutory practice in parishes.

The title page of the publication

Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty.

© Helsingin yliopisto 2006

Viimeksi päivitetty 22.11.2006

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