The History of St. Matthew’s
English worship in St. Matthew’s Church in Eastern Helsinki began on 2 February 2014 with a congregation of fifteen. Ever since, with the exception of two summer recesses, services have continued on a weekly basis and the congregation has grown to around fifty. The worship community at St. Matthew’s was founded by Hans Krause, pastor for ministry in English of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the greater Helsinki Area.
Before 2014, English services had been held weekly in the old Mellunmäki shopping centre by the International Evangelical Church in Finland (IEC). But when the building was demolished, IEC discontinued services in the area, leaving a gap that needed to be filled. The vicars of the local parishes in the area asked pastor Krause to start weekly services in St. Matthew’s Church (Matteuksenkirkko), which at the time was the main sanctuary for the Finnish-language parish of Vartiokylä and the Swedish-speaking Matteus parish. Soon also the Russian Lutheran ministry moved to the same premises, making it a multilingual Christian centre in the heart of the very multilingual and multicultural Itäkeskus area.
From the very beginning, the life of St. Matthew’s has centred around the Sunday worship service and the weekly Bible study. Over the years, the community has grown, and we have seen people from over thirty different nations come and go. We have celebrated together when children were born and received into the family of God through baptism. We have baptized and confirmed adult members. We have celebrated church weddings. We have cried together and comforted one another when family and loved ones in far-off countries passed away. We have got together for lots of potluck dinners, birthday parties, baby showers, and outings together, organized by enthusiastic members of our family at St. Matthew’s.
In September 2019, a long-time dream came true when pastor Kristian Willis was called to be the first full-time pastor of St. Matthew’s. Since his arrival, the church has grown, and new volunteers have emerged to serve in music, children’s church, and media. In July 2021 pastor Kristian was called to serve in the Swedish parish of Vantaa. Since then Janne Sironen has been serving as the pastor of St Matthews International Church.
By God's light, our path and our mission continue, with all of us walking together into the future, living history in the making.