The Church Hits the Big Time in a Small Town

The presence of the Church in Kristinestad (Kristiinankaupunki) was not exactly imposing when I was there in 1990. We had four members, of which one was active. He was dedicated to building up the Church in Kristinestad, however, and he compensated for our lack of numbers by his enthusiasm.

One of his ideas for spreading the word locally was to set up a Book of Mormon display at the market. This market had been held in Kristinestad three times a year since 1783. People came from kilometers around to sell fish, sausage, handicrafts, furniture, art, records, T-shirts, bread: you name it, it was there. A good thing that there were four of us, so two of us could go around and try things like mustamakkara while the others watched the display.

In the middle of day a man came by with a video camera. He was covering the market for the local cable TV station. He took video of the display, talked to my companion in Finnish for a while, and when he left I learned that he was going to put us on TV that night, and that he wanted to come by and take video during church.

This last request both pleased us with the fact that we could get some publicity for the church, and panicked us with the fact that everyone would see the conditions we met in. The local members were part of the Vaasa (Vasa) branch, but every Sunday except Fast Sunday we met in the dining room of an inn in Kristinestad. On Fast Sundays we would all go to Vaasa, 100 km away, to meet with the branch there.

We arrived at the inn the morning of the chosen Sunday and cleared away the coffee cups while the TV crew set up their cameras, lights and microphones. We had decided it would look better with more than one member in church, so we had asked the branch president in Vaasa to help us supplement our usual congregation. He showed up with his family and the district president from Jakobstad (Pietarsaari).

My companion gave the Sunday School lesson, and the member, the district president and I gave talks in sacrament meeting. The TV man decided to come back and interview us the following week before editing his footage together and airing it. I left for the mission home and my dying fireside a couple of days after this church meeting, so I never knew what happened with the show. But I still remember one of the more unusual church meetings I've been to, breaking sacrament bread while a huge camera and what must have been a 20,000-watt light bulb stared me in the face.

Story: Lee Choquette
Photo: (left to right) V. Ralf Jönsson, V. Jussi Lindberg and V. Waters. Taken July 13, 1990

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