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Young Finns are increasingly converting to Orthodoxy

In an interview with, the young abbot of New Valaam Monastery, Archimandrite Mikael Nummela, said that young people between 18 and 30 increasingly convert to Orthodoxy in Finland.

The abbot leads weekly discussions with young individuals who are contemplating the vocation of monasticism or converting to Orthodoxy. In recent decades, New Valaam has had its most populous monastic community to date, and the average age of its monks has declined. The number of members of the New Valaam monastic community is eighteen at present.

The trend emerged primarily after the coronavirus pandemic. Before that, the Orthodox population in Finland had been declining steadily.

The Finnish Archimandrite observed that Sweden and the United States of America also exhibit the same upward trend in the number of young people converting.

Due to the monastery’s proximity to the Russian frontier and the conflict in Ukraine, the number of pilgrims and visitors decreased, which affected its revenue. However, the abbot reported that recent years have seen an increase in the number of tourists, as Easter ceremonies and Orthodox divine services attract a great deal of attendees.

Statistics from the Finnish government as of December 2021 indicate that Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELC) adherents comprise 66.6 percent of the population, while the Finnish Orthodox Church comprises 1.1 percent.

Around 21,000 individuals, or 0.4 percent, are recognized as members of Islamic congregations, whereas 30.5 percent do not associate themselves with any particular religious organization.

Recent research by the University of Helsinki examined the conversion of Finnish cultural professionals to Orthodoxy.

The study shows that “Contemporary Finnish cultural professionals’ turn towards Orthodox Christianity explicitly challenges the idea of modern, educated, and enlightened Europeans as secular or religiously indifferent.”

Photography courtesy of / Marina Gargi