The Firstborn Laestadianism
Firstborn Laestadians are a subgroup within Laestadianism. The "Firstborn" are known for their traditionalism and their conservative pietistic ideals, and they seek to avoid "worldly pleasures". The name "Firstborn" relates to the Bible, Hebr. 12:23, which mentions "the church of the firstborn" (KJV). American and Canadian congregations always use the King James Version of the Bible. In Finland, the Finnish Bible Version of the year 1776 is used. Both Bible versions are based on the Textus Receptus.
In Sweden this group is often known as "West Laestadians". They have adopted a more critical attitude towards the Church of Sweden than other Laestadians. There are many Firstborn Laestadian congregations in the U.S., Canada, Finland and Norway, one congregation in Denmark and some activity in Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain as well.
In the US and Canada the "Firstborn" are found in the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church. There are congregations e.g. in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ontario, Delaware, North Carolina, New York, Washington D.C and Connecticut. In America the "Firstborns" are the greatest Laestadian subgroup.
The "Firstborn" all over the world consider the congregation in Swedish Lapland, where the Laestadian movement began, as a mother congregation. Christmas meetings in Gällivare, Sweden, are the most important annual event for the "Firstborn" Laestadians.
The Division of Firstborn Laestadianism of Finland in 2016
In 2016 Firstborn Laestadianism in Finland is divided into two factions concerning administering Holy Communion and Baptism by own lay preachers in their own prayer houses. In August 2016 new Association Esikoiset ry was founded by Firstborn Laestadians, who want to receive Sacraments in fellowship of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, a National Church of Finland. In 13th August 2016 Firstborn Laestadian preachers who doesn't accept administration of sacraments by own lay preachers, had meeting in Hämeenlinna's prayer house. Some of the Firstborn Laestadians' preachers started to serve in the new Association. From meeting of preachers in Hämeenlinna, they emphasized that in new Association they want in accordance with traditional policy of Firstborn Laestadianism, to receive sacraments in fellowship of Evangelical Lutheran Church and work within the Church. Preachers’ message was that division of revival movement doesn’t mean change in Theological policy of Firstborn Laestadianism even in the new Association. Preachers told that they will fight against Liberalism and Secularization, which appears in the Church together with other Conservatives within the Church.
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