Kärsämäki Shingle Church to be inaugurated next Sunday

Archive 19.7.2004 0:00 EEST

The work of building the Kärsämäki shingle church in northern Finland will culminate on Sunday 25th July with the ceremonial inauguration of the church. The inauguration will be carried out by the Bishop of Oulu, Samuel Salmi, and the Government’s congratulations will be presented by Parliamentary Speaker Paavo Lipponen.

The shingle church, modern in design, has been built as far as possible by traditional 18th century methods - without machines, electricity or concrete. The unhurried building process gave the workers time to concentrate on quality. As well as professionals skilled in traditional building, enthusiastic voluntary workers made a significant contribution to the project. Among other things they made the 52,000 split aspen shingles by hand for the shingle "cloak" surrounding the church.

"In our time with its emphasis on individuality, the shingle church building site has shown the strength of community spirit. The volunteers put in more than 30,000 hours of work. Building the church has been a project that has created hope and belief in the future", says Rev. Jorma Niinikoski, Vicar of the Parish of Kärsämäki and the heart and soul of the church project.

The unique building project has aroused great interest even outside Finland’s borders. A large number of students from different countries also took part in the building during international work camps. One of the motives for the project was the revival of old working methods. The different stages of the building have produced a great deal of teaching material and several vocational institutes in different parts of the country have been involved.

The shingle church was erected on the banks of the River Pyhäjoki, on the spot where the old church, demolished in 1841, once stood. The modern wooden church, designed by architect Anssi Lassila, consists of a timber frame forming the heart of the church, enveloped in a tarred cladding of aspen shingles reaching a couple of metres beyond the frame. As well as the church building itself, all the furnishings, textiles and communion vessels were made by hand.

In future the Kärsämäki shingle church will serve all the year round for church services and ceremonies. It is also a church where people can come to pray or meditate in silence.

UPM has been one of the main sponsors of the project from the start. "The shingle church project has brought joy to many people. This cultural project of international importance combines many important aspects of building with wood. The future of the Finnish wood processing industry is based very much on the same elements as those from which the Kärsämäki shingle church is built", says Kari Makkonen, Senior Executive of UPM’s Wood Products. UPM has produced an illustrated book on the building of the church.

For further information, please contact:
Jorma Niinikoski, Vicar of the Parish of Kärsämäki, tel. +358 40 588 4171
Miia Närekorpi, Manager, Communications, UPM, Wood Products, tel. +358 40 543 0412

UPM, Wood Products
July 19, 2004