Markham Apostolic Lutheran Church History
The 1950’s and 1960’s were a time when there was a lot of immigration from Europe into North America.
In 1958 and 1960, there were two families that moved from Finland to Canada, and settled in the Toronto area. The Lampuoti family came in 1958, having been in living faith already in Finland, and wanted to gather with Christians here in the new land. The Valitalo family came in 1960, and only one member of the family was in living faith, although the grandparents remaining in Finland were also believers. During those years, it was very common for new Canadians to gather with kinfolk from their respective fatherlands. The Lampuotis and Valitalos got to know each other through work and other common ground. The Valitalo family members were converted into living faith here in Toronto. (It was wonderful for our grandparents in Finland to hear that their son and his family had been converted, as it had always been their prayer)
Leevi Lampuoti had written to the Apostolic Lutheran Church Federation asking if there were believers in the close proximity of Toronto to gather with. They responded by sending believers from the Detroit or Southfield area. Reuben and Amelia Peterson and family made numerous visits, as well as other families from the Detroit area.
We had home services as well as Sunday School in homes. In the early years, there were many Finnish families that gathered. We first were known by the name of “Koti Seurat”, and around 1964 we made request to the Apostolic Lutheran Church Federation to become an affiliated congregation. This was granted.
For several years our services were all held in the Finnish language, but as English-speaking newcomers came into our midst, we began translating the services into English. This was quite remarkable, as we had only been in Canada less than 10 years, having learned to speak English after arriving in Canada.
Our first pastor was Leevi Lampuoti, and we also had others that began preaching soon. Matti Valitalo began preaching when he was only about 17 or 18 years old, and he also began translating. Jouko Valitalo also began to preach at an early age.
The families’ children grew and started to marry, and have families of their own. There were several new converts from the local areas. God’s Word drew many into the Fold. Many hearts were touched by the Spoken Word, and came to the realization of their sinfulness, and they were blessed with the reassurance that even their sins are washed away in Jesus’ Name and by His Precious Atoning Blood. How blessed we were to hear those beautiful sermons and to experience how sinners are truly changed by the Blood of the Lamb!
Bill Warren and Ken McLachlan also began to preach after they were converted
As our homes had limited space, we had been looking for larger gathering places. We rented a chapel at a United Church for about a year or so, and then another church, The Church of All Nations for another couple of years. In 1973 we were blessed that we were able to buy our own church building at 205 Highfield Rd in Toronto, and we were at that location for about 4 or 5 years. We sold that church building , and began looking a little further outside of the city core. For a short time in the interim, we again gathered in Leena and Leif Nyblom’s home where they had a large spare room and that was set up as a “church room”. In 1978, God blessed us with another actual church building at 70 Dickson Hill Road in Markham, where we are currently. Many times we wonder, and are truly thankful, how God has blessed this small congregation with all of our needs. It goes beyond human understanding how a small group such as ours, could “afford to carry such a building” . We all have to agree, that it is solely by the grace and blessing of God. He carries us and provides for all of our needs.
During these past 50 or so years, there have been many families that have grown from the two original families. Some of these families’ descendents have now moved to other parts of North America, to other congregations. Some families have stayed and new generations are coming up. Some elders have passed onto their eternal homes.
Our prayer and hope as a congregation is that God continues to keep us on the straight and narrow way that leads to eternal life, and protects us from wandering onto the path of destruction. We pray that God’s Word be spoken in its entirety and in the truth, and that He would give us the strength to continue on this journey until the end of time, washing away the sins and shortcomings that befall all of us, in the Blood of Jesus and in His Name.
Contact us at:
Eastern Missionary Association
PO Box 69
Hancock, MI 49930
Chairman: Ken Matson
Phone: (603) 547-7474
Secretary: Orval Wirkkala
Phone: (320 ) 224-1912
Treasurer: Pastor Ernest (Chuck) Bylkas