The strong Internet presence of the Lutheran Church in Estonia as well as in Finland, two countries on the shores of the Baltic Sea, came as a surprise to RW during the ECIC’s conference.
In Estonia, 20 percent of the population connects to the Internet at least once a week. The country is far ahead of the two other Baltic republics in that respect. One third of the Estonian Lutheran parishes are already online, which is the result of direct initiatives of those local parishes. There have already been three church Internet conferences in Estonia.
In Finland, besides an active presence of the Lutheran Church on the Internet, a commercial Christian company called CredoNet has established a number of websites with specialized content (for ministers, for church music, etc.). A new, ecumenical Website (including the Pentecostal Church), currently in a test phase, will soon be present on the welcome page of the leading Finnish web portal.CredoNet is owned partly by the Lutheran Church (with a minority of the shares), and partly by the Kotima Group, a Christian publishing house with 34 magazines (combined readership: 1.5 million).
The magazines provide editorial content to CredoNet, which has itself a staff of 20 people. The most used website among those launched by CredoNet is a website for children, providing them with a safe environment to explore the Internet. Most of those websites are free of charge, except for a fee-based Christian databank of images.
“The average Finn doesn’t attend church every Sunday, but is linked to the Church in many ways,” CredoNet’s Johanna Rautianen told RW. “What CredoNet tries to do is to keep the message there, to have it available.”
— By Jean-François Mayer