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Laestadianism, also known as Laestadian Lutheranism and Apostolic Lutheranism, is a pietistic Lutheran revival movement started in Sápmi in the middle of the 19th century.  Named after Swedish Lutheran state church administrator and temperance movement leader Lars Levi Laestadius, it is the biggest pietistic revivalist movement in the Nordic countries.  It has members mainly in Finland, Northern America, Norway, Russia and Sweden. There are also smaller congregations in Africa, South America and Central Europe. In addition Laestadian Lutherans have missionaries in 23 countries.  The number of Laestadians worldwide is estimated to be between 144,000 and 219,000.
Most Laestadians in Finland are part of the national Lutheran Church of Finland (cf. Communion of Nordic Lutheran Dioceses ), but in America, where there is no official Lutheran church, they founded their own denomination, which split into several sub-groups in the mid-20th century. Because of doctrinal opinion differences and personality conflicts, the movement split into 19 branches, of which about 15 are active today. The three large main branches are Conservative Laestadianism (corresponds to the Laestadian Lutheran Church, in North America known to other Laestadians as the "Heidemans" after 20th-century leader Paul A. Heideman); the Firstborn (in North America, "Old Apostolic Lutheran Church" ("Esikoinens" to other Laestadian denominations); and Rauhan Sana ("Word of Peace"), known in USA and Canada as the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America (to other Laestadians, the "Mickelsens" after 20th-century leader Reverend Andrew Mickelsen (1897–1983).   These comprise about 90 percent of Laestadians. Other branches are small and some of them inactive.
In Finland, the Elämän Sana ("the Word of life") group, as the most "mainline" of the different branches of Laestadianism, has been prominent within the hierarchy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland: two members have been elected bishops of Oulu, and one has served as Chaplain General (head chaplain of the Finnish Defence Forces, the equivalent of a Major General).
All branches share many essential teachings including a central emphasis on the Lutheran doctrine of justification (forgiveness and grace).
Another core teaching concerns essential differences in lifestyle and beliefs between true believers on one hand, and false Christians (sometimes distinguished as living faith versus dead faith) and unbelievers on the other.
The leaders of the two largest Laestadian sub-groups, the Conservative Laestadians and Firstborn Laestadians, have for decades excluded each other and all other Laestadian sub-groups from the kingdom of Heaven even though the denominations' core doctrines are nearly indistinguishable.  The leadership of the smaller third main sub-group, the Federation, has continued to regard the other sub-groups as of living faith, after having unsuccessfully sought to preserve unity within Laestadianism when its larger counterparts' leaders in the 1930s called for, and later required, dissociation from the Federation and other Laestadian denominations. 
The church teaches that every believer has the authority to testify that others' sins are forgiven, sometimes referred to as the audible declaration of the forgiveness of sins. Laestadians usually proclaim the forgiveness of sins "in Jesus' name and blood".
Laestadianism holds that when a Christian has committed a sin, whether in thought or deed, she or he should confess the sin to another believer. Thus it is a common practice among Laestadians in or out of church at any time, but especially during the church service prior to the rite of holy communion, to be confessing their sins to one another or, occasionally, to one of the church ministers performing the sacrament. A common declaration is, "Believe your sin(s) forgiven in Jesus' name and (shed) blood." This procedure, ingrained in Laestadianism, differs from absolution in mainstream Lutheran churches in several aspects, including that the request for forgiveness need not be, and most often is not, to the minister; the confession is often made openly; confession is not by appointment but rather readily available to any believer from any other believer at any time; and the specific wording of the declaration states that the means of atonement is Christ's shed blood.
Because a Laestadian takes very seriously the proposition that grace exists only for one whose sins have been specifically forgiven, there is scarcely another rite in this movement that would rival the importance of the declaration of forgiveness. This doctrine is a unique extension of the priesthood of the believer doctrine.
When greeting each other, Laestadians say "God's greetings" in English (or in Finnish: Jumalan terve, meaning 'God's greeting' or 'welcome'). To take their leave of each other, they say "God's peace" in English (or in Finnish: Jumalan rauhaa).
"Worldliness" is discouraged, and Laestadians frown on pre-marital sex and on alcohol consumption except in the sacrament of holy communion. Conservative Laestadians frown upon worldly vices such as dancing, television, birth control, rhythmic music, make-up, earrings, movies, tattoos, and cursing. Some conservative elements within the church go even further in rejecting the ways of the world, for examples, refusing to buy insurance, prohibiting their children's participation in organized school sports, and removing their car radios. Simplicity in the home, including the prohibition of curtains and flowers, is also a common claim - especially among Firstborn Laestadians - but not a Church doctrine. 
Especially large numbers of Firstborn Apostolic Lutherans and many members of the most conservative congregations within the Word of Peace group, for examples, do not use birth control because they believe that a child is a gift from God; therefore, many Laestadian families are large.
The central activities of Laestadians are annual or more frequent church conventions, including the Summer Services of Conservative Laestadians, attended by members from congregations far and wide; and for the youth, haps (gatherings of teenagers and young adults to sing from Songs and Hymns of Zion and visit), song services, bonfires, youth discussions, caretaking meetings and revival meetings.
Within Firstborn Laestadianism in Scandinavia, the most important yearly events are the Christmas services in Gällivare and the Midsummer services in Lahti, where thousands of Firstborn Laestadians gather each year from different countries.
Different branches publish their newspapers and magazines.
In Finland, the Bible version primarily used by Laestadians is the Finnish Bible of 1776 which, unlike newer translations, is based on the Textus Receptus. The Central Association of the Finnish Associations of Peace (SRK) publishes a triple Finnish translation  (1776, 1933/1938, and 1992) that is used as both a study and a service Bible by Conservative Laestadian preachers. American and Canadian Laestadianism uses the King James Version, based as well on the Textus Receptus.
The name of the movement stems from Lars Levi Laestadius (1800–1861), a Swedish Sámi preacher and administrator for the Swedish state Lutheran church in Sápmi who was also a noted botanist. Laestadius started the movement when working as a pastor for the Church of Sweden in northern Sweden in the 1840s. Laestadius met a Sami woman named Milla Clementsdotter from Föllinge in the municipality of Krokom in Jämtland during an 1844 inspection tour of Åsele. She belonged to a revival movement within the Church of Sweden led by pastor Pehr Brandell of the parish of Nora in the municipality of Kramfors in Ångermanland and characterized by pietistic and Moravian influences. She told Laestadius about her spiritual experiences on her journey to a truly living Christianity, and after the meeting Laestadius felt he had come to understand the secret of living faith. He had had a deep experience of having entered a state of grace, of having received God's forgiveness for his sins and of at last truly seeing the path that leads to eternal life. His sermons acquired, in his own words, "a new kind of colour" to which people began to respond. The movement began to spread from Sweden to Finland and Norway, particularly among the Sámi and the Kvens. He preferred his followers to be known simply as "Christians", but others started to call them "Laestadians."
Two great challenges Laestadius had faced since his early days as a church minister were the indifference of his Sámi parishioners, who had been forced by the Swedish government to convert from their shamanistic religion to Lutheranism, and the misery caused them by alcoholism. The spiritual understanding Laestadius acquired and shared in his new sermons "filled with vivid metaphors from the lives of the Sami that they could understand, ... about a God who cared about the lives of the people" had a profound positive effect on both problems. An account from the Sámi cultural perspective recalls a new desire among the Sámi to learn to read and a bustle and energy in the church, with people confessing their sins, crying and praying for forgiveness—within Laestadianism this was known as liikutukset, a kind of ecstasy. Drunkenness and cattle theft diminished, which had a positive influence on the Samis’ relationships, finances and family life. 
The rapid rise of Laestadianism among the Sámi was due to several factors. Laestadius proudly self-identified as Sámi through his Southern Sámi mother. He spoke and preached in two Sámi dialects. Further he chose uneducated lay preachers from the Sámi reindeer herders to travel year around with them and preach to the unrepented among them. Additionally, in the early days of the movement, Laestadius, in order to find common ground with his parishioners, borrowed the Sámis’ own familiar pagan deities and concepts and adapted them to Christianity. Another factor in the rise of Laestadianism among the Sámi was that the state-mandated boarding schools soon came to be populated by Laestadian personnel. Next, the strict moral code including strict temperance of Laestadianism appealed to the Sámi. Whole communities that had been wrecked by alcoholism went sober virtually overnight. This had the added positive effect of improving the Sámis' social standing with the outside world. Finally, Laestadianism was a faith that the Sámi could identify as originating from within inasmuch as Laestadius himself professed to have come to know the true living faith only upon his encounter with the poor abused Sámi woman, Milla Clementsdotter. 
A faction within Laestadianism has believed that the movement is a contemporary descendant of an unbroken line of living Christianity via the Luther, the Bohemian Brethren, the Lollards, and the Waldensians all the way back to the primitive Church. Martin Luther, Jan Hus, John Wycliffe and Peter Waldo are seen as spiritual ancestors of Laestadianism.
Members tend to have large families by Western standards. In Finland, their demographic advantage has grown as the national fertility rate has fallen: in the 1940s their fertility rate was twice the national average, while in the 1980s it was four times the average. "By 1985–7, the Laestadian and Finnish TFRs stood at 5.47 and 1.45 respectively. Even within the Laestadian TFR of 5.47, there is diversity, with a 'moderate' group preferring to stop at four [children] and practise birth control while a conservative cluster engages in unrestrained reproduction.
No research has been done on Laestadians' level of endogamy and membership retention [as of 2010]. However, they are residentially and occupationally integrated, so lose more members to assimilation." For example, in the small town of Larsmo, despite some losses to outmarriage and emigration, their share of the population doubled over just thirty years to about 40% in 1991 and was predicted to be "a two-thirds majority of the town in a generation." 
In addition to the founder Laestadius himself, who was also a noted botanist, and chronicler of the Samis' shamanistic religious beliefs, former prime minister of Finland and leader for seven years of the Finnish Centre Party, Juha Sipilä, is a life-long Laestadian of the Rauhan Sana group.
Initially, Laestadius exercised his ministry mainly among the indigenous Sámi people, but his influence soon spread into areasa of northern Finland, and the Laestadian (or Apostolic Lutheran) movement became predominantly Finnish. Even though he was a university-trained pastor and scientist (he was a renowned botanist), his powerful preaching and spiritual example ignited a lay-awakening movement in the north, a movement that is known for its distinctive religious practices, including lay confession and absolution.
Finnish immigrants to Minnesota in the first two decades after 1864 were largely Laestadians or Apostolic Lutherans, followers of Lars Levi Laestadius, a Lutheran minister who led a pietistic revival that swept the northern regions of the Scandinavia.
Pietism, also known as Pietistic Lutheranism, is a movement within Lutheranism that combines its emphasis on biblical doctrine with an emphasis on individual piety and living a holy Christian life, including a social concern for the needy and disadvantaged. It is also related to its non-Lutheran Radical Pietism offshoot that either diversified or spread into various denominations or traditions, and has also had a contributing influence over the interdenominational Evangelical Christianity movement.
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 2016, the Laestadian Lutheran Church has 33 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 about 90 ministers, nearly all of them lay preachers.
Lars Levi Laestadius was a Swedish Sami pastor and administrator of the Swedish state Lutheran church in Lapland who founded the Laestadian pietist revival movement to help his largely Sami congregations, who were being ravaged by alcoholism. Laestadius was also a noted botanist and an author. Laestadius himself became a teetotaller in the 1840s, when he began successfully awakening his Sami parishioners to the misery and destruction alcohol was causing them.
The Laestadian church arrived in North America with Nordic immigrants in the latter half of the 19th century, many of whom came to work in the copper mines of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Some of these new immigrants found themselves in conflict with older, established immigrants from the same countries, being generally poorer and less established, and hewing to the new, fundamentalist teachings of Lars Levi Laestadius, a Swedish-Sami preacher and botanist born in Arjeplog, Sweden. Laestadian congregations separate from the extant Scandinavian Lutheran churches were formed in Cokato, Minnesota, in 1872 and in Calumet, Michigan, in 1873.
The Apostolic Lutheran Church of America (ALCA) is a Laestadian Lutheran church denomination established by Finnish American and Norwegian immigrants in the 1800s. They came mainly from northern Finland and northern Norway where they had been members of the state churches. Most or all members had ties from their home countries to the Laestadian revival movement named after Swedish state church administrator and pastor Lars Levi Laestadius of Pajala, Sweden. Eventually, there were too many arguments between this denomination and the other American Laestadians, and some of the followers of Laestadius were excluded from the sacrament of holy communion. Under the lead of Salomon Korteniemi, the excluded members formed a congregation of their own in December 1872, under the name the Salomon Korteniemi Lutheran Society. In 1879 this name was changed to the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Congregation. As other congregations of Finns in Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and Oregon were organized on the same basis, they came into fellowship with this body under the name the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church, or, as it is usually called, the Apostolic Lutheran Church.
Summer services is the annual meeting of the Finnish Lutheran movement known as Conservative Laestadians. In addition to the primary Finnish gathering, similar meetings are arranged in North America, Sweden and Russia.
Conservative Laestadianism is the largest branch of the Lutheran revival movement Laestadianism. It has spread to 16 countries. As of 2012 there were about 115,000 Conservative Laestadians, most of them in Finland, the United States, Norway, and Sweden. The movement and this denomination attribute their teachings to the Bible and the Lutheran Book of Concord.
Firstborn Laestadians are a subgroup within the Laestadian Lutheran revival movement. The Firstborn are known for their traditionalism and their conservative pietistic ideals, and they seek to avoid "worldly pleasures". The name "Firstborn" derives from the Bible's Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb. 12:23, which mentions "the church of the firstborn".
Karesuando is the northernmost locality in Sweden. It is situated in Kiruna Municipality, Norrbotten County, Sweden, with 303 inhabitants in 2010 and 350 in 2011.
The Korpela movement, or Siikavaara sect, was a religious sect started by Laestadian preacher Toivo Korpela in Sweden during the 1920s. It saw its decline later during the next decade as its practices involved heavy drinking and unconventional sexual activities toward the end of its existence, which subsequently led to the conviction of 60 of its followers.
The Sami revolt in Guovdageaidnu, also known as the Kautokeino uprising, was a revolt in the town of Kautokeino in northern Norway in 1852 by a group of Sami who attacked representatives of the Norwegian authorities. The rebels killed the local merchant and the local lensmann, whipped their servants and the village priest, and burned down the merchant's house. The rebels were later seized by other Sami, who killed two of the rebels in the process. Two of the leaders, Mons Somby and Aslak Hætta, were later executed by the Norwegian government.
Fragments of Lappish Mythology is the detailed documented account of the Sami religious beliefs and mythology during the mid-19th century. It was written between 1838–1845 by Swedish minister Lars Levi Laestadius, but was not published until 1997 in Swedish, 2000 in Finnish, and 2002 in English. The book was originally written for the French-funded La Recherche Expedition of 1838–1840, but was lost and forgotten for many decades thereafter.
The Haugean movement or Haugeanism was a Pietistic state church reform movement intended to bring new life and vitality into the Church of Norway which had been often characterized by formalism and lethargy. The movement emphasized personal diligence, enterprise and frugality.
Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism, identifying primarily with the theology of Martin Luther, the 16th-century German monk and reformer whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Catholic Church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the Ninety-five Theses, divided Western Christianity. During the Reformation, Lutheranism became the state religion of numerous states of northern Europe, especially in northern Germany, Scandinavia and the then-Livonian Order. Lutheran clergy became civil servants and the Lutheran churches became part of the state.
Sámi Americans are Americans of Sámi descent, who originate from Sapmi, the northern regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. The term Lapp Americans has been historically used, though lapp is considered derogatory by the Sámi.
The Old Apostolic Lutheran Church of America (OALC) is a Firstborn Laestadian church in North America. Firstborn Laestadians are a subgroup within Laestadianism. The Old Apostolic Lutheran Church originated in the 1890s. In the Nordic Firstborn Laestadian revival, the movement works within the official Church of Sweden, which is also called the "Lutheran Folk Church". The Church of Sweden has for a long time recognized the Laestadian movement and has allowed them to hold their own services in the state churches, both before and after the separation of church and state. Even in America it still has a relationship with the Church of Sweden.
Oskari Heikki Jussila was a Conservative Laestadian provost, vicar for multiple parishes, and the area provost of the Tornio area in 1938–1955. He also worked as editor for the religious newspapers Siionin lähetyslehti and Zions missionstidning in 1919–1945, as well as a member of parliament with the National Coalition Party in 1922–1929 and 1930–1933. Jussila's father was Heikki Jussila (1863-1955), a Conservative Laestadian lay preacher and Volksschule teacher.
Milla Clementsdotter (also known as, Milla Clemensdotter, Maria of Lappland was a Swedish Southern Sami woman who is remembered for guiding Lars Levi Laestadius in questions of Christian faith. She belonged to a revival movement marked by Pietistic and Moravian influences, a member of a group known as "Readers", a background shared by Laestadius' mother.
The Laestadius family is a Swedish family originally from Ångermanland, and mostly noted for its member Lars Levi Laestadius, the founder of the pietistic Lutheran revival movement, Laestadianism.
Läsare or the Reader movement was a Swedish Pietistic Christian revival movement of people who stressed the importance of reading, that is, reading the Bible and other Christian literature. It was influenced by both the Herrnhuters and the Methodists and has been described by scholar George M. Stephenson as a "second religious reformation in Sweden".