Chaplains in Finland help their annual conference at Riihimäki, a small town, one hour from Helsinki at the end of August 2004. Rev Kirsti Aalto, the Director of Hospital Chaplaincy of the Lutheran Church in Finland writes: "We have 92 participants on the list. The theme of the meeting is ... "unto the third and fourth generations"... (Exodus 20: 5).
The working group of the conference,
led by Kirsti Aalto and Pirkko Arola
Participants of the Conference in Riihimäki, 24-26 August 2004
Greetings from the ENHCC Coordinator to the Conference
August 11, 2004
To the Participants of the Annual Conference of
Hospital Chaplains of the Lutheran Church in Finland
Dear Fellow Chaplains of Finland
On behalf of all the participants of the European Network of Health Care Chaplaincy, allow me to greet you as you gather for the annual conference of hospital chaplains of the Lutheran Church in Finland.
The theme of your conference, "unto the third and fourth generations"... (Exodus 20: 5), I am sure will provoke much discussion. In a society of an aging population, we are caring more and more for those who remain in this life and who are seeking purpose, meaning and a sense of worth in the light of death. Placed in a Christian perspective, the third and fourth generation and their search for purpose and meaning cannot be separated from the expectation of the Eternal Kingdom. Unfortunately, we often overlook and ignore this expectation. Yet, it is only within this expectation that we find true joy and meaning in both life and death. Cultivating this expectation also gives true meaning to the care we give as chaplains. Without this expectation, our care will be limited to mere psychological techniques and jargon.
We as Christians are of a “new generation”, regardless of our age. If we cultivate the expectation of His Kingdom in our life, we simultaneously cultivate our youth and allow this youth to mature without losing its childlikeness. Those who truly seek to “ascend” to the Kingdom are those who cultivate the qualities of having clean hands and a pure heart, who do not lift up their soul to what is false and do not swear deceitfully…
Such is the generation of those that seek Him, who seek the face of God of Jacob (Ps.24: 4-6). In seeking His face, we will give thanks to Him forever, recounting His praise from generation to generation (Ps. 79: 13). As pastors of this “new generation”, we need to cultivate all of these qualities so that we can minister in a way in which we proclaim the joy of the Eternal Kingdom.
In a few days, representatives of Chaplaincies from all over Europe will gather together in Dublin for the Eighth Consultation of the European Network of Health Care Chaplaincy, of which the Lutheran Church of Finland has played a role in its development. We will all have warm memories of our last consultation that took place in Turku two years ago. For it was there that the Standards of Health Care Chaplaincy in Europe were approved. For this, we are all greatly indebted to all of you.
My hope and prayer is that your conference will be successful in every way and that your chaplaincy will grow, proclaiming the joy of His Kingdom, so that the coming generations of chaplains will be inheritors of the fruits of your labor.
With great admiration,
Fr. Stavros Kofinas
Coordinator of the European Network of Healthcare Chaplaincy
(Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate)