Laestadian Lutheran Church
The Laestadian Lutheran Church (LLC) is a religious Christian movement, its teachings based on the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. From June 9, 1973, the organisation was named the Association of American Laestadian Congregations (AALC), before the association changed its name in 1994 in order better to convey its spiritual heritage. As of 2009[update], the Laestadian Lutheran Church has 29 member congregations in the United States and Canada, with highest concentrations of members in Minnesota, Washington, Arizona, Michigan in the United States and in Saskatchewan, Canada; the congregations are served by 68 ministers, nearly all of them lay preachers.
In Northern Europe, the association's sister organizations are the Conservative Laestadians' Central Association of the Finnish Associations of Peace (Suomen rauhanyhdistysten keskusyhdistys) in Finland, the Sveriges fridsföreningarnas centralorganisation in Sweden, and the Estonian Lutheran Association of Peace (Eesti Luterlik Rahuühendus).
The main teaching among them is of Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection. The work of Jesus Christ continues in this world as the work of the Holy Spirit. The Laestadian Lutheran Church teaches of God's kingdom and need for repentance and the forgiveness of sins. The church holds, in accord with the Lutheran Confessions, that the Bible is the highest guide and authority for Christian faith, doctrine, and life. On the other hand, the decisions and norms decided in the congregation are as high obligatory and authoritative as the word of God in the Bible, as one example the bans of birth control, make up and dancing.
The Laestadian Lutheran Church takes its name from Martin Luther and Lars Levi Laestadius. Laestadius was a Lutheran pastor who served in northern Sweden from 1825 to 1861. The movement reached North America with Finnish immigrants in the 1860s. Congregations were first formally organized in Cokato, Minnesota, in 1872 and Calumet, Michigan, in 1873. The Laestadian movement in North America has suffered a number of schisms since 1890. The subjects of disagreement have mainly been the understanding of justification, God's congregation, and the sacraments. The last division occurred in 1973 and resulted in the establishment of the Laestadian Lutheran Church.