Pastor Lauri Iso-Aho was shocked to receive a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of his service to Mount Isa’s multicultural community, presented by a representative of Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk this month (September).
The award was made to the shepherd of Immanuel Finnish Lutheran Church – and Mount Isa Parish – at the annual Mt Isa multicultural festival.
It is his tireless service and compassionate understanding that made St Paul’s members eager to nominate their beloved pastor for the award. But, ever humble, Pastor Lauri still cannot quite understand why he received it, ‘I was totally surprised’, he says, ‘I really don’t understand. I have not done anything special, I have just done my duty to serve people where I can.’
The journey to the award began in 1967, when Pastor Iso-Aho migrated to Australia from Finland and worked in the Mt Isa mines. During the 1970s many more migrants from Finland settled in Mt Isa and a Finnish Lutheran Church was established. The church initially grew in numbers, but then dwindled slowly until, in 1982, a full-time Finnish pastor could no longer be supported.
Pastor Iso-Aho was an elder of the congregation but was granted a permit to conduct Finnish services under the guidance of the pastor of St Paul’s Lutheran Church, the local English speaking congregation, while still working full–time at the mines.
In 1994 he was ordained as a pastor of Australian Lutheran Church and in 2001, after his retirement from the mines, he was called to serve St Paul’s congregation as well. In 2014 the members of the Finnish congregation decided to worship with St Paul’s, but still hold a monthly Finnish-language service.
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