Welcome and familiarize yourself with Nivala Congregation!
The town of Nivala is located in Finland, on the border of Central and Northern Ostrobothnia, in the Kalajokilaakso river dale area. The total area of Nivala is 537 km² and it is a town with approximately 11.000 people. The total amount of members in the Nivala Congregation is about 10.000. There are 27 employees in our congregation.
Nivala is known for its scenery of wide fields – carefully managed fields spread as far as the eye can reach around the town centre and even wider, the Lake Pidisjärvi offers opportunities for recreation in the summer for the townspeople.
The actual town centre is close by the church even though the densely populated area of the town centre has widened out along the Kalajoki–Savo main road to the east. The church is far over 200 years old and it is a wooden cruciform church, which steadily stands in the middle of the village. Seen also from the most distant villages, the church is located fairly in the middle.
The first church of Nivala, a small chapel of sermon built in 1682, was located by the bank of the Malisjoki River. A memorial of the first church is located in the place.
The second church from 1761 was located somewhere in the place of the present church. Its age lived short for a new larger church was completed in 1803. The design for the building made by Simon Jylkkä-Silvén was ready indeed already in 1793 but the approval from Stockholm had to be waited for until the year 1802. Before that the church architect passed away.
Originally the church was for its ground in the shape of an equal cross and it did not have a tower. The church construction was carried out as the corvée by the congregation members led by Niilo Koskela, a local active member. In the year that the church was built, that was in 1802, there were only 67 tax paying farms in the Pidisjärvi dependent parish and a large number of them were recently cleared new farms. Building the church must have been a heavy task for the people that already were burdened with work. That moment is significant in any case, because Pidisjärvi, as our locality was formerly named, became in 1802 a dependent parish within the Kalajoki Congregation.
Right after the church was completed the farm owners started to build the bell tower, which was completed in 1806. The bell tower was placed separately to the south of the church into the cemetery’s side. The groundwork of the bell tower was however of poor quality, because the tower leant forward and did not last the church bell ringing without swaying. Orders were given that the new bell tower should be built in 1853, but the building plan was not for some reason implemented. The bell tower did not fall anyway, but it was taken down and rebuilt in conjunction with the church; this was carried out in 1874 during the thorough renovation of the church. Plans made by the county architect F. W. Lüchow were criticized later, because the style of the church was completely changed in the renovation – the former shape of the roof was changed, the outside walls were covered with boards and the stone base of the church was renewed by lifting up the building about one metre by help of wooden wedges. The amount of work offered by people can only be imagined as they were building a church of their own and how important it was to get the church of their own completed. A poem by Niilo Rauhala, a priest and writer from the town of Haukipudas, comes to my mind: “Give us sometimes an unhurried moment so that we sometimes stopped by and reminisced the past generations that have quietly and without complaining accomplished their task and silently left!” (Translation.)
The church was covered with boards and painted inside in 1911, and renovated in 1952 on the basis of the plans made by diploma architect Aarne Timonen. In the same connection the oldest paintings that had been removed from the church for some time, were placed both to the southern and the northern end of the church. The artist has remained unknown but the painting portraying the crucified Jesus is probably a piece of work by Tuomas Kiempe, an altarpiece artist moving in Ostrobothnia in the beginning of nineteenth century. In connection with the same renovation, pictures connected with
Jesus’ life as well as pictures portraying evangelists, both painted by artist Lauri Välke, were placed in the upper part of the church chancel and in the railing of the organ gallery.
The altarpiece of the present church was painted in 1875 by Ernst W. Wendelin from the town of Kristiinankaupunki.
The church was painted inside in 1971 and the old shades of colour were returned according to the plans of architect Touko Saari. The exterior painting was made in 1982. A large renovation was carried out in 1991 on the basis of the plans by architect Jorma Teppo. In connection with the renovation some more beautiful details were revealed under the paint sheets, among others an ornament pattern along the lower edge of the ceiling and a decoration with motif of Jesus’ Holy Heart. The following exterior painting was made in 1997 as well as in 2019 and a renovation in 2019-2020. The church can seat 600 people. The vicissitudes of our church are significant – perseverance and strong will have been demanded from people to achieve their goal.
Our life is about carrying the cross. Each era has a burden of its own. Torments of the people in the nineteenth century were frost, hunger and diseases. Even though the twentieth century brought us an enormous welfare, yet carrying the cross belongs to our lives. God’s care, escaping under the shelter of the cross was needed then and we need it furthermore. That is why the home church is dear for the inhabitants of Nivala. In joy and sorrow our path has led towards the altar of this church, at this altar we have received consolation and provisions for life.
Seen from outside the church is in a simply way beautiful and solemn. When entering the church the first impression is lightness. The wall surfaces are light and the windows are large, but there are also other colours that are present in the church. With different tones of brown, and with colours of grey blue, dark red and gold the details have been emphasized. The supporting framework of the ceiling is at the same time like a decoration and in its durability like a feat of expertise of the past generations.
The ground form of the church has remained in the shape of a cross. The solution is probably practical, because a building made of timber holds better together in this shape and the spaces between the spans in the framework of the ceiling remain shorter. Nevertheless, the shape of the cross declares the main tidings of the church, crucified Jesus. About it tells us both the old and the new altarpiece. The church bells acquired in 1761 and 1878 invite us to the worship service every Sunday and to other ceremonies in the church.
The first organ of the church was acquired in 1897 and the following in 1956. The organ that is in use today was acquired in 2009 and it was constructed by the organ construction company Urkurakentamo Veikko Virtanen Oy. The organ has 43 stops, three manuals and a pedal, and it was planned by Erkki Vähäsarja, former cantor in the Nivala Congregation, and organ constructors Heikki Autio and Juha Virtanen.
These days the congregation activity is wide and many sided; there are activity opportunities for all ages. The religious movements within the Lutheran church have given a significant touch to the spiritual life of the congregation. They are: the Pietist Movement, the Laestadian Lutheran Community and the Laestadian Reawakening. They have a strong influence on the congregation life by gathering people together in the church and in the devotional meetings, and at the same time by maintaining the hymn tradition in Nivala. Nivala is also known as a town of music – along the years significant events have been arranged here, among others operas and other cultural events. In Nivala there are several choirs, which assist in the congregational occasions; three of them are Nivala Congregation’s choirs. The worship services can be heard through the Internet radio (nettiradio) every Sunday. The time of beginning can be found in the church announcements at our home pages.
A large number of volunteers are available in different work sectors at the congregation. With their help the activity opportunities are wide and cover every age group.
Nivala Congregation has five cemeteries and four chapels-of-ease. The oldest of the cemeteries is the church yard. One of the grave monuments in the church yard is the grave of the presidential couple Kyösti and Kaisa Kallio. Kyösti Kallio was the fourth Finnish president (1937–1940).
The new congregation house was completed in 2005 – various festive family occasions, concerts and many sided congregation activities take place there. The Congregation house kitchen is responsible for the catering during festive occasions.
In the front page of our home pages under the “Pikalinkit” (Quick links) you can find the folder “Koulu ja seurakunta” (School and Congregation), where you can receive further information about our congregation. Furthermore, the employees of the congregation are introduced in the home pages and they can be contacted when required. Have a look at our home pages and give us feedback!
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose hearth are the ways of them.” (Psalm 84:5).
Thank you for visiting us at our home pages. May blessings be upon you and your life.
NIVALAN SEURAKUNTA – NIVALA CONGREGATION