Rev. Kirsti Aalto, Greeting at the Banquet August 27th 2017


Dear friends on the field of Pastoral Care and Counselling,

Germany, Switzerland, Eastern Germany, / Poland, Finland, Italy, / Hungary, England, Czech Republik, / Sweden, Belgium, Germany /   and now: Finland.

This is the short history of ECPCC conferences. This is the history since 1972. I may greet you as a former president of ECPCC. I was chosen in Janske Lazne,Czech Republik. After that ECPCC had the Sigtuna Conference in Sweden, 2005.

The theme of the Conference in Turku in 1985 was Pain and Power in Pastoral Care and Counselling. Pain and power – these words got a new sound last week in Turku, as well as in Barcelona, in Spain, in Europe. Pain got a now face in Turku, a face of terror act.

I think of two songs after Turku:

First: Bridge over troubled water. Let us build bridges, let us keep on hoping that we find more love than hate, more courage than fear.

And second: “When the power of evil grows around us, make the voice of the other world stronger.”

These words are written by German Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We have his words in our hymnal. People on Turku Market Place sung this hymn last Friday, a week after the terror act. In these words we find a task: today it is our task to make the voice of other world stronger.

40 years ago I began my CPE, Clinical Pastoral Training in Charlottesville, Virginia. Today Charlottesville is in news daily, now because of hate and fear. About violence and terror spoke Antti Pentikäinen on this conference on Friday. Barack Obama wrote after Charlottesville: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion.” That sounds like words from the guidebook for Pastoral Care and Counselling.

Love me tender, Are you lonesome tonight, Jailhouse Rock, Amazing Grace. Songs we all remember, don´t we? These are Elvis Presley´s songs, of course. He died 40 years ago. But his songs did not die.

There is a time to come together and there is a time to separate. You have seen many faces during these days in Järvenpää. Old and new faces, faces to remember.

Bishop Irja Askola said to you on Wednesday: “God´s most beautiful word is welcome.” But soon it is time to say: “Goodbye!” It means “See you soon.” We hope to able to meet again.

The Lord bless you and light the way  on which he leads you.

The Lord let you feel his presence

when you are afraid,

and open your eyes and your heart for the joy, and the other people whom he gives you. Amen.