Finland belongs to the Nordic region of Europe. It was part of the kingdom of Sweden from the 12th to the 19th century, when it was annexed by Russia and became a Grand Duchy in the Czarist Empire. In 1917 Finland declared its independence. In the Winter War of 1939-40 with the Soviet Union it lost part of its territory. Finland fought alongside Germany against the Soviet Union during World War II, and remained a neutral country in the cold war period. In the last 50 years Finland has made a remarkable transformation from a farm-forest economy to a diversified modern industrial economy. It is a member of the European Union. Christianity came to Finland from the East (Orthodox, from Russia), and from the West (Catholic, from Sweden). When Sweden adopted the Lutheran Reformation, the western church in Finland also became Lutheran. The reformation was a peaceful and gradual process. Historically the Lutheran Church was the state church, but the Lutheran and Orthodox churches have the same status since Finland became independent, and both are national churches. Several smaller Protestant denominations like the Baptists and Methodists came to Finland in the second half of the 19th century. The Methodists are part of the United Methodist Church. Pentecostals have established themselves in the 20th century and constitute the largest non-Lutheran group. Finnish Evangelicals are affiliated with the WEA through the Finnish Lausanne Committee.
More on Finland:
New Valamo, a living monastic tradition in Finland
A multimedia portrait of the Finnish monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ, including a 'Blessing of Waters' ceremony on the feast of Epiphany, can be viewed on the 'Keeping the Faith' website.