The full-time church ministry among Finns in Thailand in Finnish language closed down by the end of August. However, Jyrki Markkanen, the long time resident and full-time pastor among the Finns in Thailand, will remain in Thailand.
“I will be working as an adviser for theological education and programme management within the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM) and I will be based in Bangkok,” Jyrki Markkanen says to ScandAsia.
“In order to ensure a smooth transition I will also be in charge of Advent and Christmas services in Finnish language in Southeast Asia this year,” Jyrki Markkanen adds.
Instead of a permanent Finnish Church in Thailand, there will be changing traveling Finnish pastors coming to Southeast Asia for Advent and Christmas.
However, the presence of the church will not completely disappear, Jyrki Markkanen explains. The strategy of the church is to encourage the Finns to integrate their activities into the activities of their local Lutheran Church.
In an interview in ScandAsia in 2007, Jyrki Markanen told about when he first came to Thailand in 1997.
“I was appointed by the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission for a four years period. I became the pastor of one of the eight congregations in Bangkok totaling around 2-3.000 members in Thailand most of them being Thais.”
Then in 2002, Jyrki Markkanen was asked if he wanted to be responsible for the Finnish state church in Bangkok.
“I said yes, so now I actually have two jobs”, Jyrki Markkanen joked at the time.
Already then, Jyrki Markkanen was in no hurry to leave Thailand. His wife was working as a nurse at a shelter for unmarried pregnant women called “Home of Grace” and their children, the daughter seven years old and their son 11 years old at the time, were students at Bangkok Pattana School.
“Nobody knows the future but we are not in a hurry to go anywhere else. At present we feel quite all right here” Pastor Jyrki Markkanen told ScandAsia back in 2007. Today, 15 years later, this seems indeed to be unchanged.