Support in difficult times
Do you need help? The church cannot solve all of your problems, but in our congregations you can find people who are willing to listen to you, and perhaps we can find solutions together. If you do not speak either of Finland's national languages that can sometimes be a problem, but every Lutheran congregation in Vantaa has workers who can help you in English and perhaps also in some other languages.
Contact information for the parish office of a congregation is in this website on the page titled with the name of that particular congregation. If you go to the parish office you will probably meet a secretary or a pastor. You may talk with them, but every congregation also has workers specialized to help people who face difficulties in life. These helpers are called ”deacons” or ”deaconesses” or ”diaconal workers.” In Finnish we often use the Greek word diakonia for Christian service of others, and if you see a word in Finnish (or Swedish) that begins with diakon- then it has something to do with such service. Diaconal workers don't sit behind a desk very much because they move around to meet people who need help. They have regular office hours, though, so you can check church announcements or ask the parish office for a good time to contact a diaconal worker.
In many ways diaconal work is like social work of the church. If you have financial problems so that you don't have money for basic needs like food and housing, in Finland it is basically municipal authorities (like the Social centers in the city of Vantaa) who should help, but you can also ask the church for help in an emergency. Diaconal workers don't have cash that they can hand out to people who come to meet them, but there are other ways in which our congregations help people in need – we just don't make headlines out of it. Also, you don't have to be a church member in order to ask or receive help.
Serving people with God's love doesn't always require money. If you are just sad or lonely, you can come to talk with a diaconal worker or pastor. Church workers and volunteer helpers also visit and assist people whose mobility is limited by old age, illness or disability. Diaconal workers coordinate this kind of volunteer help (Lähimmäispalvelu in Finnish) and train volunteers. If you are a healthy person and willing to help as your time allows, you can take part in this work. It can be as simple as going out on a walk with a person who can't do so alone or reading a book to someone who can't see. (Then you're not alone, either.)
If you are an immigrant and feel you need help, you can contact a local congregation, but there is also a deacon who is specialized to work with immigrants (phone 050 556 4756, also see the web page “Are you an immigrant?” or “Уважаемые иммигранты!“
Church workers visit hospitals regularly. This is done by pastors, diaconal workers and church musicians in local congregations, but the Vantaa Parish Union also employs full-time hospital chaplains. Visits are also made to old-age homes and prisons. Other specialized ministries are listed on the page Vantaa Parish Union (VSY).
Church workers can help you in many ways when you are bereaved. If a person close to you has died and you must arrange a funeral, see the pages Arranging a funeral and On the funeral day.
The Vantaa Parish Union owns some small apartments, so if you need a place to live in Vantaa you can ask if any of them are vacant. Applications are made through the diaconal center of the parish union (Diakoniakeskus, street address Unikkotie 5 a A, Tikkurila). Details and updated contact information are in Finnish on the page Vuokra-asunnot.
Our parish union also employs marriage counselors. If you feel you need professional help to discuss your relationship and family life, an appointment can be made with a marriage counselor (perheneuvoja in Finnish, phone 09 8306 330).