Church Up to six churches to be closed in Helsinki – Congregation for Economic Crime develops survival plan

Gray the light of November morning creeps in from the windows of Alppila Church. Suntio, diaconal people and those responsible for children’s activities are roaming the premises. Vicar Riikka Reina presents the premises of a church completed in 1957.

Reina’s speech flashes at the demolition that the church may be facing. The building is in such poor condition that it needs to be thoroughly repaired. There has already been water damage.

Alppila Church is not the only one whose time seems to be running out. The Helsinki Lutheran Congregation and the parishes were thinking a lot about what to do for a number of churches and other properties. Helsinki News reported earlier.

There is a lot of activity in Alppila Church. However, there are few church deliveries, says Pastor Riikka Reina.

Will the properties be sold, demolished, or is there another option? Answers to these questions are now being sought. A study will be carried out in the spring.

Churches and other properties are owned by the congregation from which the parishes rent the premises.

In addition to Alppila, the renunciation list includes five churches: the churches of Oulunkylä, Pihlajanmäki, Munkkiniemi, Herttoniemi and Tammisalo.

The proposed abandonment is related to the goal of the Helsinki parishes and the parish association to stabilize the economy so that operations will be financially secure in the coming decades as well, says the leader of the parish association Juha Rintamäki.

For example, at Alppila Church, rental costs are more than 330,000 euros a year and the investment need for the next decade is almost 20 million euros. The churches of Herttoniemi and Munkkiniemi would also require very large investments.

Meals are available at the church’s café for two euros.

Congregations wonder if it would be wiser to spend the money on something else.

Helsinki’s parishes now have 230 buildings in the city, of which there are 42 churches and chapels. Rintamäki says that giving up real estate would not only be about saving, but also about seeking new growth.

“People can be helped in a relationship crisis and a serious illness or in convalescence and food distribution. More is being invested in diaconia. ”

Diaconia means helping from the love of one’s neighbor.

“Savings plans in real estate are only part of parish savings projects. The entire cost structure is reviewed. ”

Properties are a problem if they are not well maintained and planned or do not meet today’s needs, Rintamäki says.

“That’s why controlled divestiture and enabling the versatility of existing and existing ones is important.”

There is also a gym in the Alppila Church. It is in heavy use.

The gym at Alppila Church has been quieter than usual during the Korona period.

Church It must also be taken into account in Helsinki that at some point tax revenues will decrease if the number of members continues to decrease.

Helsinki’s parishes still have a huge number of members, 324,981 last October. However, there is a decrease of 4,119 members from the previous year. The decline has been going on for a long time: in 2005, there were 386,073 members.

At the turn of last year, only 50 percent of Helsinki residents belonged to Lutheran congregations.

Despite the decrease in the number of members, the tax revenue in euros has not decreased much, says the statistician Aki Niemi. The reason is, for example, that the retirement age groups have remained fairly well members of the church and pensions have increased, ie tax revenues have increased.

Those who leave the church, on the other hand, have been young, especially those aged 18-29. However, the income of students and thus the tax income they receive is often modest.

Which In this case, Niemi anticipates that tax revenues will decrease significantly over time. In that case, cutting the church’s real estate costs by giving up real estate would also help with the problem of declining tax revenues.

Still, the congregation cannot just give up or demolish the properties it owns.

“According to the Church Act, all Evangelical Lutheran church buildings built before 1917 with their fixed interiors and works of art are protected,” says the website of the National Board of Antiquities.

“The decision of the parish to substantially alter, demolish, disuse or change the purpose of an Evangelical Lutheran church building shall be submitted to the Church Board for approval. In the case of a protected or at least 50-year-old church building, the parish must request the opinion of the National Board of Antiquities at the planning stage. ”

The Alppila Church, which was completed more than 60 years ago, would also demand a statement.

Volunteer, Terttu Kumlin, a loom club member, presents the loom trees of Alppila Church.

Vicar Riikka Reina thinks that if the parish association renovated the Alppila church, the rent would probably double. It feels too great a financial burden for the parish of Kallio, given the proportion of the population in the area today who belong to the church.

In Reina’s visions, the church hall would be preserved. Half of it would remain as a chapel and the other half would be made into a meeting room. The rest of the building would be demolished and replaced.

The actual church hall is only a small part of the Alppila church. Most are other facilities, such as the gym, where basketball, volleyball and volleyball are actively played, as well as folk dances.

There are few ecclesiastical ordinances in the church hall itself, but there are several services on Sundays. The Estonian-speaking, Hungarian-speaking and African-speaking communities have their own.

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