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Some words about my three research interests


During the 19 th century some, mostly German theologians got the idea that word "diakonia" 1 in Greek means humble and charitative Christian service. This idea has spread during the 20 th century to other churches and Christian movements, too. In the ecumenical discussions about ministry this way of thinking about "diakonia" has spread (e.g. BEM), but it has also some problems when the churches are trying to understand each other. (E.g. in Porvoo discussions).

At the end of the last century some researchers in exegetics (Collins, Hentschel, Janhonen etc.) pointed out, that this idea was not the way of thinking 2000 years ago. At the moment we know, that the words about "diakonia" have at least many other meanings, and that the Christian social service was not only a business for the deacons.

At the moment we have a lot of literature, which interprets the words about "diakonia" as they were interpreted in the 19 th century. The most recent exegetical outcomes have not yet been deeply involved in the understandings of the history of Christian charitative activities or in the history and essence of ministry.

Some research shows that it was not the deacons who were acting with the sick; it was the parish in common, or people with a special gift (of healing) or the bishops (e.g. Barrett-Lennard). We need research, which not only picks up the jobs, which are somewhere combined with the deacons. We need research, which is interested in the charitave Christian activities common during the 1 st – 7 th centuries. And we need research about the frequency of main activities performed by the deacons. We don't know, how often the deacons visited the sick or elderly or prisons or acted on liturgy or took care of the sick.

I have a personal background to this project (described here). I have made a larger project description about this (use the link below). There I describe also my part of project as a researcher and as an academic supervisor. I am working on some articles and books on this thematic and they are is listed there, too.

Project: The original form of Parish Social Work

1. διακονία, here: the "job" of a deacon or deaconess, Christian Social Service, sometimes in English "diaconia", in German "diakonie", in Swedish "diakoni".


We don't know what the listeners get when they are listening to our sermons. We have a lot of fine books about the way we should speak in, but what goes through is not yet clear.

I have published earlier some articles on preaching 1 and published my handbook on preaching in 2011 (Aito ja eheä).


 See the review (in Finnish)


Now I am visiting seminars and speaking about this topic.

I have written some sermons in German: Göttinger Predigten
Set the word Ryökäs in the search field.

1. Ryökäs Esko (1987): Predikan som Guds ord - några problem i den nyaste finländska homiletiken. – STK 1987, 118-125; Ryökäs Esko (2000): Predigtgemeinschaft im Internet - eine Kirchengemeinde? – Informationes Theologiae Europae. Internationales ökumenisches Jahrbuch für Theologie. Herausgegeben von Ulrich Nembach (Göttingen) et al. [Frankfurt am Main], 339-352; Ryökäs Esko (2001): Finländska påskpredikningar under självständighetstiden. In: (ed.) Luthersk påskpredikan i Norden 1, Från reformation till nutid. Nordiska Ministerrådet. Nord. ss. 677-719; Ryökäs Esko (2001): Påskpredikan i östra Finland 1998. In: (ed.) Luthersk påskpredikan i Norden 2, Traditioner och regioner. Nordiska ministerrådet. Nord. ss. 517-528; Ryökäs Esko (2001): Är det kvinnorna som förkunnar om välfärden? En analys av kvinnopredikningar. In: Ståhlberg, Krister (red) (ed.) Mångkulturalitet och folkligt samarbete. Nordiska ministerrådet. Nord 2000. ss. 139-146.

                                                               A Parish

What is a parish of a church, what does it do, and why? This is a functional question, but it has very big dogmatic implications. I have written some ten books about this thematic, but the main question needs more attention.

In the 1970s the parishes of the Ev.-luth. Church of Finland started to write "plans", called "seurakuntasuunnitelma". It was written for planning of parish economy and its activities, inspired by commune planning boom and stimulated by computers and 5-years-plans of socialist countries. When I was writing some of these plans and visiting other parishes as a specialist for "planning", the question arose: what kind of activities there should be in a parish and why?

In the 1980s I wrote some guidebooks for planning 1 and some analysis of the plans 2. In some years it was clear that the parishes needed more data to meet the questions of the future. I concentrated (1) on the analysis of some of the most urgent practical activities 3 and (2) on the dogmatic background for a parish life, ecclesiology 4. They lately led me to questions about the ministry of the Church 5, and forwarded me to go deeper to the problems about the work of a deacon (see above).The former led me to sociological analysis and understandings of parish life 6, a project that continues 7.

I am searching through theoretical ways to understand, why someone feels him/herself "at home" in a parish. Which are the elements which can stimulate this or have a negative effect on this? I hope I can find some answers and get my doctoral thesis in Sociology.

1. Seurakuntatoiminnan virikekirja 1980, Seurakuntatoiminnan kartoituskaavakkeet 1981, Tarve ja suunnittelu 1986, Miten tekisin yhteiskunnallista työtä seurakunnassani 1989, Suunnittelu seurakuntatyön tukena 1992.
2. Församlingsplaneringen i Finland 1982, Seurakuntasuunnittelun historia ja nykytila 1984.
3. On a parish's level: Livskvalitet och församling 1979, Att bli verksamhetsledare 1987, Själavårdande diakoni - karitativ själavård 1987, on a more national level: Seurakuntien henkilöstörakenne 1986, Teologi 2000 1990, Diakonianäkemyksemme 1990, Henkilöstön kehitys 1990, Työnjako vai yhteinen työ 1991, Församlingarna och stiftsrådet 1991.
4. Martti Simojokis kyrkosyn 1984, Tvåfald och enhet 1993.
5. Vapaa mutta yksin 1992, Vapaus ja ohjattu vapaus 1992, Yksi virka - Monta tehtävää 1994 (Ed.), Freedom and guided freedom 1995, Oppiiko diakonian 2000.
6. Urban Faith 2000 1993 (Ed. with Riikka Ryökäs), Kansan valta Suomessa ja kansankirkossa 2005.
7. Licentiate thesis in sociology about how big shall a parish be to build up a feeling of common parish, 2004 (unpubl.).


Homepage of Esko Ryökäs is here.

Kotisivuni suomeksi on täällä.

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