The foundation of the Finnish Society of Church History is closely connected with the spiritual and ideological developments of the 1880s. In Finland it was a time when, particularly among the academic circles of the younger generation, Darwinism and the theory of evolution were leading towards atheism. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland was considered helplessly old-fashioned and it was pushed to a position of defence.
The result was that Finnish pastors took up the fight for defence in which new weapons of scientific research were to be used. At the private meeting of pastors held in 1887, Rector Jaakko Päivärinta suggested that two scientific societies should be founded. One of them should be a church historical society whose work would be, above all, devoted to the collecting of the sources of national church history.
Eventually, in 1891, the government was able to ratify the rules of the Finnish Society of Church History. The other society established the same year was the Finnish Theological Literature Society.
The series of Publications (Toimituksia) began in 1895, and consists mainly of monographs, and to some extent also of collections of sources and of collections of articles. There are also many Festschrifts in the series. By the end of 2013, there were altogether 226 publications. Most of the publications are in Finnish or Swedish, but there are also a few in English and German, and even two in Estonian. The publications are normally provided with summaries in either German or English. Manuscripts are accepted for publication on the advice of two specially designated referees.
The Society also published a series of Minutes (Pöytäkirjat) with supplementaries, 10 volumes in 1898-1912. At that point, the series was transformed into a Yearbook, the first issue of which was published in 1912. Despite the name, it has often been issued as joint-volumes of many years. By the end of 2013, 60 issues of the Yearbook had been published. At first, the minutes of the Society were published in the Yearbook. This, however, was cancelled in 1970. Today, the Yearbook consists of articles, conference and research reports, annual reports of the Society, and literature, movie, exhibition and even game reviews.
Many of the articles published in the Yearbook (see editorial rules) have first been brought to publicity as discourses at the monthly meetings. The meetings have been active and regular since 1901. They traditionally take place during the university term, on the first Monday of the month (October to April).
Altogether there are usually seven meetings a year, the most festive of them the annual festival on the 19th of January which is the anniversary of the Finnish apostle in the Middle Ages, St Henrik. Only during wars and revolutions have some of these meetings been cancelled.
Other regular activities of the Society include a Church History Day, which is held every other year. The first one was held in Helsinki in 2001. Every spring, usually in May, the Society organizes an excursion to some historically interesting place or places. These trips are usually done by bus and last only one day, but if the destination is farther off, they may take two to three days.
How to apply for membership
An application has to be directed to the Board of the Society. The membership fee is 35 € (20 € for students). Members receive the Yearbook for free and pay reduced prices for the publications (Julkaisuluettelo).
How to buy publications
The publications of the FSCH are sold at the bookstore Tiedekirja www.tiedekirja.fi e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org fax +358-9-635017
Secretary Sanna Supponen
Department of Church History
P.O. Box 4
00014 University of Helsinki, Finland