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Spirituality in Finland

The research project concerning spirituality in Finland (in Finnish: Suomalainen spiritualiteetti) focuses on the ways in which people in Finland live according to their faith in their daily lives. Carried out in 2017–2020, the project takes interest in individuals’ spontaneous, everyday religiousness from a ‘lived faith’ perspective.

The project includes studies on the following themes:

The research project is linked with the Baptism and godparenthoodThe link opens in a new tab (in Finnish: Kaste ja kummius) project undertaken by the National Church Council.

In addition to the researchers of the Church Research Institute, a number of students from various universities are involved in the research project.

Baptism and godparenthood in the 2000s – changes and meanings

The baptism rate is declining in all Nordic countries. The Baptism and godparenthood sub-project conducted by the Church Research Institute uses register data and survey material to analyse the current trends related to baptism, such as whether or not to have children baptised.   The purpose of the analyses is to identify which individuals are influential in baptism decisions, which factors predict a decision to have or not to have a child baptised, and how the role of a godparent is viewed in Finland today.

The responsible researcher for this part of the sub-project is Hanna SalomäkiThe link opens in a new tab.The link opens in a new tab

Another part of the sub-project focuses on personal experiences related to baptism and godparenthood. Material for this study was collected during spring and summer 2018 by asking people to write about their experiences.  The invitation to write was published in social media, on the Sakasti website and in newspapers. Submissions were received from a total of 855 persons. The material will be analysed to identify the meanings associated with baptism and godparenthood. What meanings do one’s own baptism and a child’s baptism carry for Finns, and do these meanings differ from each other? In what ways is godparenthood realised in people’s lives, what people do together with their godchild or godparent? Is spirituality part of the godparent-child relationship, do godparents and godchildren pray for each other, or do they attend parish activities together? What do godparents expect or hope from their godchildren, and vice versa?

The responsible researcher for this part of the sub-project is Maarit HytönenThe link opens in a new tab. The link opens in a new tab


Voluntary work and spirituality

This study investigates voluntary work in terms of universalistic values and lived faith, as being a form of low-threshold religiousness. The various dimensions associated with voluntary work, such as compassion, the idea of receiving by giving, or a personal calling, may be an aspect of spirituality for the volunteers themselves, albeit not necessarily at a conscious level. Volunteering and being of help involve factors that are clearly religiously attuned but also factors that are not influenced by religiousness to the same extent.

Background materials for this study include the Gallup Ecclesiastica 2015 survey conducted by the Church Research Institute and the European Values Study 2019. In Tampere, volunteer workers of the local parishes have been interviewed in collaboration with the Case Tampere project of the Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (DIAK). 

The responsible researcher for the sub-project is Veli-Matti SalminenThe link opens in a new tab.The link opens in a new tab


Special features of spirituality in Finland

The study aims to explore contemporary Finnish spirituality in terms of international comparison. A core distinctive feature of spirituality is the idea that questions concerning God and life after death are considered to be important aspects of life and that they guide, in one way or other, the individual’s way of living and choices in everyday life, not only in connection with the formal exercise of religion.

The survey materials from the European Values Study (ESV) 2017 serve as the source material for research. These materials allow for an in-depth comparative analysis of those who consider God to be very important in their lives and those who do not. For example, what do work and family mean to them, in what ways is their identity related with the idea of being Finnish, what is their level of trust in people or social institutions, and what kind of attitudes do they have regarding environmental issues. By means of multivariable methods, the analysis of the material provides an understanding of the various types of spirituality profiles among the Finnish population.

The responsible researcher for the sub-project is Kimmo KetolaThe link opens in a new tab.The link opens in a new tab


Silence retreat movement

The silence retreat movement (in Finnish often referred to as ‘Hiljaisuuden liike’) came to Finland from Sweden and England in the 1970s. Silence retreats are arranged by parishes in their own facilities but also by special Silence retreat centres.

This sub-project aims to study the experiences of people who have taken part in different retreats. They are asked about the significance of the spirituality offered by the retreats in their lives and about the ways in which the spirituality of the silence retreat movement has affected the course of their spiritual life and identity.

The study is carried out as an online questionnaire survey and additional material is gathered through interviews.

The responsible researcher for the sub-project is Jussi SohlbergThe link opens in a new tab.The link opens in a new tab


Immigrant Christian communities

Internationalisation concerns even the religious field in Finland. Along with immigration, Christianity becomes more diversified, especially in growth centres.

The aim of this sub-project is to collect basic data concerning the Christian communities among immigrants within the Helsinki metropolitan region. The study endeavours to establish a broader overall picture of the rather fragmented field, which has not previously been surveyed. The online questionnaire survey carried out in 2018 and additional data acquisition serve as sources for examining, for example, the number of participants, forms of activities and linguistic groups within various communities.

The immigrant Christian communities vary largely in terms of their structure and forms of activities. There are independent registered associations, non-registered communities, registered religious communities as well as different groups and work practices within various denominations and congregations.

The responsible researcher for the sub-project is Jussi SohlbergThe link opens in a new tab.The link opens in a new tab