Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (Finnish: Suomen evankelis-luterilainen kirkko; Swedish: Evangelisk-lutherska kyrkan i Finland) is a national church of Finland. It is part of the Lutheran branch of Christianity.

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Turku cathedral 26-Dec-2004
Turku Cathedral, the Primatial and mother church of Finland
PrimateTapio Luoma
AssociationsConference of European Churches
Lutheran World Federation
Porvoo Communion
World Council of Churches
FounderAlexander I of Russia
Origin29 March 1809 (Diet of Porvoo)
Separated fromChurch of Sweden
Members3,848,191 (2018)[1]
Official websiteevl.fi/english


Coat of Arms of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Coat of Arms of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland

The church is a member of the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches. It is also a member of the Porvoo Communion and is actively involved in ecumenical relations.

With 3.8 million members as of 2018, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world. It is Finland's largest religious body; at the end of 2018, approximately 70% of Finns were members of the church.[1] The current head of the Church is Tapio Luoma, Archbishop of Turku, who succeeded Kari Mäkinen on 3 June 2018.


Catholic bishopric

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland traces its lineage to the medieval Diocese of Turku, which coincides geographically with present-day Finland.[2] Christianity was introduced to Finland slowly: the first signs of the Christian faith being found in burial sites dated to the 11th century.

Based on etymological evidence, it seems that its very first influences came to present-day Finland from the Eastern Christian tradition.[3] Archaeological evidence shows that by the middle 12th century, Christianity was dominant in the region around present-day Turku. One legend recounts a crusade dated around 1054, but no contemporary or archaeological evidence backs the story. Another legend is that the martyr-bishop St. Henry founded the Finnish Church, but that is also most likely fictional.[4]

The introduction of Christianity was mostly a peaceful, slow process contemporaneous with the gradual integration with Sweden that culminated in the Sweden-Finland union.

The first bishop, whose name was Thomas, lived in the first half of the 13th century. The ecclesiastical hierarchy was completely established during the Second Swedish Crusade.

During the Middle Ages, the Diocese of Turku was under the primacy of the Archbishop of Uppsala, mirroring the country's Swedish political rule. The diocese had a school, making it capable of educating its own priests, but several Finns also studied abroad in the universities of Germany and Paris.

Before the Reformation, the most important monastic orders active in the bishopric were those of the Franciscans, the Dominicans, and the Bridgettines. The liturgy of the diocese followed the Dominican model.[5]

Part of the Church of Sweden

Church.20051224 PM.hollola of finland.ojp
The sixteenth-century Hollola church which was converted during the Reformation

The Swedish Reformation began during the reign of King Gustav Vasa (1527) and reached its conclusion in 1560. Sweden, like other Nordic countries, adopted the Lutheran form of Protestantism. Most monastic estates in Finland, along with Kuusisto Castle, which was the medieval residence of the Bishops of Turku, were confiscated by the Swedish crown.

The first Lutheran Bishop of Turku was Martinus Johannis Skytte, former Vicar General of the Dominican Province of Dacia. He retained most of the old Catholic forms within the Diocese, which was part of the now-independent Church of Sweden.[6] The doctrinal reformation of the Finnish Church took place during the episcopacy of Mikael Agricola, who had studied at the University of Wittenberg under Martin Luther.

Agricola translated the whole New Testament and large portions of the Old Testament into Finnish. In addition, he authored a large amount of Finnish liturgical texts in the spirit of The Reformation, while preserving a number of decidedly Catholic customs such as the retention of many holy days including the Visitation of Mary and Holy Cross Day, and the use of the bishop's mitre. While images and sculptures of saints were retained in the churches, they were no longer venerated.[7][8][9] Agricola was the first Bishop of Turku who was married.[10]

Henrik sormi
The seal of the Diocese of Turku during the 16th and 17th centuries featured the finger of St Henry. The post-Reformation diocese included the relic of a pre-Reformation saint in its seal.

By the end of the 16th century, the Swedish Reformation was finally complete, and the following century was known as the period of Lutheran orthodoxy. Membership in the church was obligatory, as was weekly attendance at Divine Service.

In newly conquered Finnish Karelia, the Lutheran Church suppressed the Eastern Orthodoxy of the local population, which drove a large number to Russia.

At this time, the Church started to lay the foundations for comprehensive education, in which every person was required to know the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Parish vergers were given the duty of instructing children in reading and in the Catechism. The education of priests was improved, the Royal Academy of Turku was founded, and the educational system was codified in the Church Act of 1686.

In the early 18th century, Finland was occupied by Russia for a decade during the Great Northern War. A large portion of Finland was annexed by Russia, where the Lutheran church remained active despite being under Russian rule. The two branches of Finnish Lutheranism that were thereby divided were reunited in the early 19th century.

In both Russia and Sweden, Lutheranism was greatly affected by the theology of Enlightenment, which had the effect of secularizing the Church. This, and the lavish lifestyle of parish vicars, caused public resentment which became visible in popular local revival movements.[11]

An independent state church

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is a successor to the Church of Sweden of which it was a part until 1809, when the Grand Duchy of Finland was established as a part of the Russian Empire, and consequently shared established status with the Finnish Orthodox Church.

In 1869, A new Church Act was passed by the Finnish Lantdag. The Act separated church and the state, giving the church its own legislative body, known as the central Synod.

Changes in ecclesiastical form could be made only by the central Synod, which had the sole right to propose changes to the Church Act. These changes could subsequently either be passed or vetoed by the Lantdag and the Russian Emperor.[12] A year earlier, Lutheran parishes had been differentiated from the secular municipalities, with both being given their own finances and administrative bodies.

The Church's general responsibility for comprehensive education and for the care of the poor was transferred to the secular municipalities.The Church accepted separation from the state because, in view of the fact that the head of state was the Orthodox Russian Emperor, it regarded complete integration with the state as problematic.[13]

In 1889, an act was passed allowing other Christian denominations to act freely in the country, and members of the Lutheran Church were given the right to leave the church to join other Christian communities.[14] Since 1923, it has been possible to leave the state church without having to join another religious congregation.

During the early 19th century, several revivalist movements were formed, four of which were particularly prominent. These movements were:

The revivalists met strong opposition from the bishops and the educated part of the population but drew large followings in the countryside. In modern Finnish historiography, the revivalist movements have been considered to be a part of the social upheaval caused by the modernization of society.[13][15]

Turku cathedral 26-Dec-2004
The Cathedral of Turku is considered the national shrine of Finland, and is the seat of its de facto primate.

In the late 19th century, the Church started to face opposition from liberalism, the position of the Church being particularly questioned by the emerging labor movement. The Church was also challenged by the Baptist faith and the Methodist faith, which became the first two private religious communities in Finland.

The Church reacted by allowing its own revivalist movements more freedom and by starting new youth activities such as Sunday schools and Christian youth associations, but the main current of Finnish nationalism was affected by Lutheranism. For example, the most important philosopher of Finnish nationalism, Johan Vilhelm Snellman, considered Lutheranism an important factor of the Finnish identity, although he was critical of the Church as an organization.[16]

Disestablished national Church

In the early 20th century, the old Landtag, based on the four estates of the realm, was changed into a unicameral parliament selected by equal vote.

In 1908, an amendment of the Church Act freed church members from the legal duty to participate in Holy Communion at least once a year. After this, church attendance dropped and has since become an indicator of personal religious opinion.

Finnish independence, in 1917, was immediately followed by the Finnish Civil War, with the church associating itself with the White (nationalist) side, while the Red Guards embraced anticlericalism to the point of murdering priests.

In the new Constitution of 1919, the new republic was deemed to be non-confessional and freedom of worship was enshrined as a right.

In 1923, this right was further implemented through the Freedom of Religion Act. Although the act gave the right for every adult Finn to leave the Church (and consequently be free from the duty of paying Church tax), the vast majority of the people remained members, regardless of their political leanings.

A Finnish military chaplain administering Holy Communion during the Second World War. The shared experience of battle shaped the Church and the society for decades and affected the stance of the Church in social policy strongly.

During the Second World War, the church was an important factor in Finnish nationalism. The common nationalist cry during the war was For the home, the religion and the Fatherland (Finnish: Kodin, uskonnon ja isänmaan puolesta, Swedish: För hem, tro och fosterland). In addition, during the war, the church participated actively in social work, thereby coming closer to the labour movement.

Military chaplains, who shared the life of the common soldiers for several years, also grew closer to the life of the working class. At the war's end, these so-called brother-in-arms priests (Finnish: asevelipapit/vapenbrödra präster) continued their work in factories. Elsewhere in society, liturgical, family, and youth works emerged as new forms of church activity, and the position of laity within the Church was strengthened. The so-called fifth revivalist movement also began as a result of revivals experienced during the war. Martti Simojoki and Mikko Juva were two former military chaplains who became Finnish archbishops, their time in the office covering two decades.[17][18]

In the 1960s, the church faced strong opposition from the radical left, who considered it an old-fashioned fortress of reaction and criticized the rudiments of the church's position within the state.

The 1966 blasphemy trial of novelist Hannu Salama became a cause célèbre for the antiestablishmentarian position. Salama was sentenced to three months in prison but placed on probation, before subsequently being pardoned by President Urho Kekkonen.[19]

Another widely criticized aspect of the Finnish Church-State relationship was the prohibition of public dances and movie theaters on Saturdays preceding certain Sundays, a ban that remained in effect until 1968.[20]

The Church responded to its unpopular situation by a program of modernization.

During the 1970s, work on new Finnish Bible translations and a new hymnal was begun. The hymnal, which incorporated a large number of revivalist and youth hymns, was adopted in 1986. In addition, a new Bible translation (based on the theory of dynamical equivalence) was completed and approved for use in 1992.[21][22] Finally, the Synod opened the priesthood to women, a change that was first discussed, but not passed, by the Synod in 1963, and which continues to cause controversy.[23]

Position in Finnish society

Religion in Finland[24]
Year Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Finnish Orthodox Church Other No religious affiliation
1950 95.7% 1.7% 0.4% 2.7%
1980 90.3% 1.1% 0.7% 7.8%
1990 87.9% 1.1% 0.9% 10.2%
2000 85.1% 1.1% 1.1% 12.7%
2005 83.1% 1.1% 1.1% 14.7%
2010 78.2% 1.1% 1.4% 19.2%
2011 77.2% 1.1% 1.5% 20.1%
2012 76.4% 1.1% 1.4% 21.0%
2013 75.3% 1.1% 1.4% 22.1%
2014 73.8% 1.1% 1.6% 23.5%
2015 73.0% 1.1% 1.6% 24.3%
2016 72.0% 1.1% 1.6% 25.3%
2017 70.9% 1.1% 1.6% 26.3%

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has a legal position as a national church in the country alongside the Finnish Orthodox Church. Finnish society has experienced a general secularization, and membership in the church has decreased in recent decades. In 2015, Eroakirkosta.fi, a website which offers an electronic service for resigning from Finland's state churches, reported that half a million church members had resigned from the church since the website was opened in 2003.[25]

Nevertheless, the church retains the allegiance of a large majority of the population, a special role in state ceremonies, and the right to collect the "church tax" from its members in conjunction with governmental income taxation. In addition to the membership tax, businesses also participate to some extent by a tax that is distributed to the church.

Avoidance of the church tax (between 1 and 2 percent depending on location) has been a popular reason cited for defections from the Church.[26] In 2010, the number of defections hit a record of 83,097, caused in part by the church's position that homosexuality is a sin. That position was made clear on a Finnish television discussion program concerning gay rights that was broadcast on 12 October 2010, in which church clergy and laymen were divided both for and against proposed legal amendments to increase LGBT rights.[27][28]

Stefan Wallin, Finland's minister responsible for church affairs, accused Päivi Räsänen, the leader of the Christian Democrats, of deliberately taking a public position against homosexuality and gay rights in order to drive away from the church those people who might hold more liberal views on gay acceptance.[29]

On 9 February 2011, the ELCF Bishops' Conference issued a "Pastoral instruction concerning free prayer with and for those who have registered their civil partnership", which can be conducted either privately or publicly in a church, with or without guests, but which is not to be confused with "the blessing of a partnership comparable to marriage".[30]


Vihkimistilaisuus Kiuruveden kirkossa
A wedding in Kiuruvesi
A Juhannus ceremony

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland sees itself as part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. It is Lutheran in doctrine, following the teachings of Martin Luther. The church is a member of the Lutheran World Federation and the Porvoo Communion, but has not signed the Leuenberg Agreement.

The faith of the Church is pronounced in the three confessions of the old church (Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed and Athanasian Creed) and the Lutheran confessional documents as defined in the Book of Concord.[31][32]

The practical faith is described in the catechism of the church, which is based on and literally includes the Luther's Small Catechism. The latest version of the catechism was accepted by the General Synod in 1999.[33]

The Church accepts the doctrines of the virgin birth and bodily resurrection.[34]

The church does not embrace creationism but states:[34]

God is the Creator of all. With his word he created the entire universe. Science studies the mystery of the genesis of the world as well as the evolution of nature and people. Faith trusts that underlying all is God’s creative will and love for the creation.

Among contemporary doctrines, the church takes a moderate position.

The Church allows its members to work as military personnel or as judges, considering these duties important to the welfare of the society.[35]

The relation of the church to sexuality is somewhat ambiguous, strictly condemning extramarital sex but in relation to premarital sex stating:[35]

Sexuality disconnected from love and from responsibility enslaves people, bringing harm to themselves and others.

Divorce and subsequent remarriage is accepted, with reservations.[35] Abortion is accepted, because the church deems that the woman has the right to decide to terminate the pregnancy but the woman is not allowed to make the decision alone. Abortion should be limited to serious cases where the birth would cause serious danger or suffering either to the family or the child. Such cases should be defined in legislation, which is the case in Finland. However, the woman pondering abortion should get all possible support before and after the decision, regardless of its outcome.[36]

On LGBT issues, the Church has been engaged in dialogue. The church has no official policy on the ordination of gay clergy, and, since 2002, "one bishop has declared his willingness to ordain homosexuals."[37] The synod of bishops has stated that sexual minorities should not be shunned or persecuted, but that they are, as all people, responsible for the applications of their sexuality. In 2010, the church took a more open position and voted to allow prayer services to be given following a civil same-sex union.[38] The purpose of such prayer services, according to the Finnish Lutheran synod and archbishop, is to take a "clear and unequivocal stance in support of gay and lesbian couples".[39] According to church policy on same-sex civil partnerships, "the couple may organise prayers with a priest or other church workers and invited guests. This may take place on church premises."[40]

In 2012, the Diocese of Kuopio appointed an openly transgender pastor to an office in the church.[41]

After same-sex marriage became legal in 2014, Archbishop Kari Mäkinen announced his support for gay marriage.[42] In 2016, the Synod did not authorize a rite for same-sex marriage, but did, as before, allow pastors "to pray with and for all couples who have entered into a civil [same-sex] marriage".[43] Therefore, while the bishops did not agree to performing same-sex marriages, "the bishops have taken the position that it is possible to hold prayer services to bless same-sex couples."[44] As with civil partnerships, the church teaches that "same-sex couples can have a prayer ceremony" in the church.[45] The bishops' announcement also said that "[this] change to marriage laws means that members of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, persons in high office and workers stand with same-sex [persons] in marriage."[46] Some clergy announced their intent to marry same-gender couples arguing that "public servant's rights grant [them] the possibility of marrying same-sex couples".[47] Nevertheless, the Diocese of Helsinki disciplined a pastor for performing a same-sex marriage.[48]

The apostolic succession of the Church is considered to have remained intact through the proper ordination of bishop Mikael Agricola, but it was broken in 1884 when all the Finnish Lutheran bishops died within a year. The succession remained valid in the Church of Sweden from where it was returned in the 1930s by the ordination of the bishop of Tampere. However, the concept of apostolic succession is important foremost in ecumenical contexts, particularly in dealings with the Anglican Communion.

In the theology of the Church itself, the valid signs of the Church include only the "pure preaching of the gospel and the performance of the sacraments according to the decree of Christ"[49][50]

The central point of the Church doctrine, does not, however, lie in the areas of sexuality and creation but in the doctrine of justification. The human being is always a sinner, completely unable to reach God by his own merit. However, Christians are atoned by the grace of God, through the sacrifice of Christ, completely undeservedly. The Christian is simultaneously a sinner and a righteous person.[34] At the end of time, Christ will return and subject all to his judgment. Then everlasting perdition can only be avoided by Christ's mercy.[34]

The saving grace becomes visible in the two sacraments, the Holy Communion and Baptism. Baptism is administered even to children, as it is effective regardless of personal attitudes, "for Baptism and faith are God’s work in us." Any Christian may perform a valid baptism, but in normal cases, the priest should perform the sacrament. An emergency baptism performed by a member of the Church must immediately be reported to the parish in which the baptism took place.[51][52]

In the Holy Communion, or Sacrament of Altar, Christ gives his own real body and blood for people to eat and to drink. The Church practises closed Communion but does not put any limitations on its members for partaking the Holy Communion. The only prerequisite needed is faith, however fragile.

Children may take part in Communion after their parents have instructed them to understand the meaning of Communion. If a person is in mortal danger and wishes to receive Holy Communion, any Christian is allowed to administer him a valid sacrament. Normally, nonetheless, the administering of the sacrament is reserved to priests.[52][53] The ordination of women is allowed.

The position of the Church on society has changed significantly during the last century. While the church was formerly considered to be a socially conservative force, it now has leftist, and even radical members. The Synod of bishops has, on several occasions, criticized the market economy sharply, and the Catechism calls repeatedly for moderation in private pursuits, for example, equating profiteering and exploitative practices with theft.

Publicly, the church strongly supports the existing Finnish social welfare model, which it sees threatened especially by neoliberalism and globalization. This has led to the church being criticized from the political right for being the religious arm of social democracy. The church has answered that it takes no political sides but strives to work for the weakest in the society.[35][54][55][56]

The Church does not control its members strictly. Rituals such as weddings and funerals are often considered to be the most important reasons to remain a member.


Hanko Church from water tower
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanko from the Hanko water tower.

The structure of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is mainly based on geographical division. Every member belongs to the parish of their domicile, with parish boundaries following municipal boundaries. Large cities, on the other hand, are usually divided into several parishes, with the geographical location of the members' homes determining parish membership. The membership of a parish varies from a few hundred in small municipalities to around 60,000 members in the parish of Malmi, Helsinki.[57][58] According to the Church Act, the parish is responsible for all the practical work performed by the church.[59] The parish is headed by the vicar and the parish council. Both are elected by the members, using equal, closed voting. The term of the parish council is four years while the vicar is elected for life or until he reaches sixty-eight years of age.[60] A parish is a legal person of public nature, capable of taxing its members. The amount of tax collected is decided by the parish council and falls between 1 and 2.25 percent of personal income. In practice, the tax is collected by the state, for a fee.[61]

Financially, the parishes are responsible for themselves. However, poor parishes can be assisted by the central administration. On the other hand, all parishes are responsible for contributing 10 percent of their income to the central administration of the church and the dioceses.[62][63] The day-to-day affairs of the parish administration are taken care of by the vicar and the parish board, elected by the parish council. In cities, the parishes of the city have a common parish council but separate parish boards.[64]

Pastoral formation

A Master's degree in Theology is compulsory before ordination. The Church also has its own vocational postgraduate educational system. A newly ordained pastor is eligible for the position of Parish Pastor (Finnish: seurakuntapastori, Swedish: församlingspastor), formerly Assistant Priest (Finnish: apupappi, Swedish: adjunkt). In order to be eligible for the position of Chaplain (Finnish: kappalainen, Swedish: kaplan) or Vicar (Finnish: kirkkoherra, Swedish: kyrkoherde), the Pastoral Degree of the Church (Finnish: pastoraalitutkinto, Swedish: pastoralexamen) is required. Before being able to apply for the post of Vicar, a degree in leadership skills (Finnish: Seurakuntatyön johtamisen tutkinto, Swedish: Examen i ledning av församlingsarbete) is also compulsory. The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Prayer Brotherhood is an optional clergy confraternity.

In order to be eligible for the position of a Vicar General (Finnish: tuomiorovasti, Swedish: domprost) or Diocesan Dean (Finnish: hiippakuntadekaani, Swedish: stiftsdekan) the Higher Pastoral Degree of the Church (Finnish: ylempi pastoraalitutkinto, Swedish: högre pastoralexamen) is required.

In addition to religious worship, local Lutheran communities arrange many non-religious activities as well. In Finland, as in other Nordic countries, most people go to church only occasionally, such as for Christmas and weddings.[65]

Dioceses and bishops

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is divided into nine dioceses. Each diocese is headed by a Bishop and a cathedral chapter. The Archdiocese of Turku is headed by the Archbishop, who is personally responsible for leading two deaneries within that diocese. He is assisted by a Bishop of Turku who takes day-to-day responsibility for running the rest of the diocese,[66] leaving the Archbishop free for his duties of national leadership and international representation. The bishops meet together regularly in the Bishops' Conference, which has eleven members; these are the Archbishop, his assistant Bishop of Turku, the other eight diocesan bishops, and the Chaplain General of the Defence Forces, whose title is kenttäpiispa ("field bishop"), although he is not necessarily in bishop's Orders.[67]

Eight dioceses are regional, with the remaining one covering all of the country’s Swedish-language parishes. The Church's supreme decision-making body is the Synod, which meets twice a year. Laity comprise a majority of the Synod, but a fixed number of seats are reserved for the clergy. The Synod proposes changes in the Ecclesiastical Act and decides on the Ecclesiastical Order. The Synod deals with questions of doctrine and approves the books of the church. The Synod directs the Church's common activities, administration, and finances. Congregational elections are held every four years to determine administrative posts at the local level.

Diocese Founded Cathedral Incumbent
Archdiocese of Turku 1156 Turku Cathedral Archbishop Tapio Luoma (2018– ),
Bishop Kaarlo Kalliala (2011– )
Diocese of Tampere 1554 Tampere Cathedral Bishop Matti Repo (2008– )
Diocese of Oulu 1851 Oulu Cathedral Bishop Jukka Keskitalo (2018– )
Diocese of Mikkeli 1897 Mikkeli Cathedral Bishop Seppo Häkkinen (2009– )
Diocese of Borgå 1923 Porvoo Cathedral Bishop Björn Vikström (2009– )
Diocese of Kuopio 1939 Kuopio Cathedral Bishop Jari Jolkkonen (2012– )
Diocese of Lapua 1959 Lapua Cathedral Bishop Simo Peura (2004– )
Diocese of Helsinki 1959 Helsinki Cathedral Bishop Teemu Laajasalo (2017– )
Diocese of Espoo 2004 Espoo Cathedral Bishop Kaisamari Hintikka (2019– )
Military Bishop[68] 1941 none Pekka Särkiö (2012– )

Current bishops

Lapuan hiippakunnan piispa Simo Peura

Simo Peura
Bishop of Lapua

Kenttapiispa Pekka Särkiö

Pekka Särkiö
Military Bishop

See also

Other Nordic national Lutheran churches


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  41. ^ "Missä hän on nyt: Onnellinen virkanainen". Retrieved 2016-09-06.
  42. ^ "Finnish Lutheran leader "rejoices" over same-sex marriage vote". yle.fi. YLE. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  43. ^ Teivainen, Aleksi. "Pastors won't officiate same-sex weddings despite legislative change". Retrieved 2016-09-06.
  44. ^ "Bishops divided over same-sex marriage". Yle Uutiset. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  45. ^ "Prayers for same-sex marriages". evl.fi. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  46. ^ "Lutheran Bishops' Synod: Church weddings only for hetero couples". Yle Uutiset. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  47. ^ "Two pastors defy Lutheran synod, plan to marry same-sex couples". Retrieved 2016-09-06.
  48. ^ "Pastor who officiated same-sex marriage slapped with reprimand from Helsinki diocese". Yle Uutiset. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  49. ^ Huovinen, E. Liian paljon? Kotimaa 26 July 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  50. ^ Acricola 2007 -juhlavuosi. Mikael Agricolan Piispanvihkimyksen 450-Vuotismuisto. Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Retrieved 11 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  51. ^ Kirkkojärjestys (1055/1993) 2:13§. Retrieved 11 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  52. ^ a b Catechism, Christian doctrine of EVL, pp. 67–70, 74–78. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  53. ^ Kirkkojärjestys (1055/1993) 2:9–12§. Retrieved 11 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  54. ^ Hiilamo:Kirkon yhteiskunnallinen rooli mullistui. Sana 19 December 2005. Retrieved 11 October 2007. (in Finnish) Archived 9 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  55. ^ [1] Statement on the Future of the Welfare Society by the Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, March 1999. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  56. ^ Kenen puolella kirkko on? Puheenvuoro. Helsingin hiippakunta. Retrieved 11 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  57. ^ Helsingin Seurakuntayhtymä Esittelylista 11/2007. Yhteinen kirkkoneuvosto. 8-16-2007. Retrieved 10 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  58. ^ Kirkkolaki (1054/1993). 3:2 §. Retrieved 10 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  59. ^ Kirkkolaki (1054/1993). 4:1 §. Retrieved 10 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  60. ^ Kirkkolaki (1054/1993). 6B:13 §, 8:1 § and 4:2§. Retrieved 10 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  61. ^ Kirkollisvero. Uskonnonvapaus.fi. Retrieved 10 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  62. ^ Kirkkolaki (1054/1993). 7:1 § and 22:8. Retrieved 10 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  63. ^ Laki kirkon keskusrahastosta (895/1941) 8 §. Retrieved 11 October 2007
  64. ^ Kirkkolaki (1054/1993). 7:2 §. Retrieved 10 October 2007. (in Finnish)
  65. ^ K. Niemelä, Suomalaisten Uskonnollisuus Uuden Vuosituhannen Alussa. Retrieved 2009-06-01. (in Finnish).
  66. ^ Scheme outlined on the Church's website (in English).
  67. ^ Deails of Bishop's Conference and Chaplain General to the Defence Forces (in English) here.
  68. ^ The Finnish Military Bishop is a special case, as it is only a rank and the officeholder is not technically considered an actual bishop. Unlike the Military Ordinariates of other countries, the Military Bishop does not govern a diocese, with clergy still under the jurisdiction of their posts' respective territorial bishops.

External links

Media related to Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland at Wikimedia Commons

Anssi Joutsenlahti

Anssi Joutsenlahti is a retired clergyman of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and a member of the parliament of Finland. He was most recently elected in the 2011 election, representing the Finns Party. In the parliament he was made 2nd deputy Speaker of the parliament.

Archdiocese of Turku

The Archdiocese of Turku (Finnish: Turun arkkihiippakunta, Swedish: Åbo ärkestift), historically known as Archdiocese of Åbo, is the seat of the Archbishop of Turku. It is a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and its see city is Turku. The Archbishop has many administrative tasks relating to the National church, and is the Metropolitan and Primate of the church. In common with other Lutheran and Anglican churches the Archbishop is considered primus inter pares, whilst all diocesan bishops retain their independence within their respective jurisdictions.

Bishopric of Turku

The Bishop of Turku (episcopus Aboensis) was the medieval Christian religious leader of Finland.

Influenced by papal bulls Swedish magnates in the 12th century set up crusade expeditions to convert the heathens in the eastern Baltic. This resulted in the establishment of the Catholic Church, the Christian religion and the Swedish conquest of Finland. Turku, or Aboa, Åbo, became the principal city in Finland and site of a bishopric.

The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century made the Catholic Church give way to the Lutheran state church established by King Gustav I of Sweden, whose principal reformer in Finland was Mikael Agricola and from 1554 also the bishop. See Lutheran Diocese of Turku.

With the creation of the Finnish state at the Diet of Porvoo in 1809, the Bishop of Turku was elevated to the position of the archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, as the Archbishop of Turku.

Church of Finland

Church of Finland may refer to:

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland

Finnish Orthodox Church

Diaconia University of Applied Sciences

Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (Finnish: Diakonia-ammattikorkeakoulu, Diak) is a university of applied sciences (a polytechnic) in Finland. It is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

Its campuses are located in Helsinki, Oulu, Pori, Pieksämäki and Turku.

Diocese of Borgå

The Diocese of Borgå (Swedish: Borgå stift, Finnish: Porvoon hiippakunta) is a Diocese for the Swedish-speaking minority of Finland. It is a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Porvoo (Borgå in Swedish) is also the old seat of the present-day (Finnish-speaking) Diocese of Tampere.

Unlike the other dioceses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the diocese is not formed on a geographical basis. All the Swedish-speaking parishes and dominantly Swedish-speaking bilingual parishes of the church belong to the diocese, regardless of their location. As a result of the geographical distribution of Swedish-speakers, the parishes of the diocese are mostly on the coast, the Swedish-speaking parish of Tampere being the only inland parish. In addition, there are two ethnicity-based parishes in the diocese: The German parish of Finland and rikssvenska Olaus Petri församlingen, the former Church of Sweden parish in Finland. The German parish (German: Deutsche ev.-luth. Gemeinde in Finnland) is the parish for the German-speaking minority of Finland, while the rikssvenska parish consists of Swedish citizens living in Finland.

The diocese has some 260,000 parishioners.

Two of the three bishops Vikström are brothers, John (later archbishop of Turku/Åbo) and Erik, while Björn is a son of John Vikström.

Diocese of Kuopio

The Diocese of Kuopio is a diocese within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. It was founded in 1939.

Diocese of Lapua

The Diocese of Lapua is one of nine dioceses within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The diocese was founded in 1956 and its current bishop is Simo Peura.

The diocese attained national attention in September 2015, when Finnish media reported that the diocese had purchased a luxury penthouse apartment for the bishop's official residence. Due to the controversy, hundreds of Finns resigned from the church during the days following the media exposure.

Diocese of Mikkeli

The Diocese of Mikkeli is one of nine dioceses in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. It was founded in 1897 in the town of Savonlinna. Later, in 1924 the episcopal see was moved to Viipuri, but after Finland had lost the city to the Soviet Union the see was moved to Mikkeli in 1945. There it has been ever since.

Diocese of Oulu

The Diocese of Oulu (Finnish: Oulun hiippakunta) is a diocese within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The diocese was first founded in the town of Kuopio in 1851, but the episcopal see was moved to Oulu in 1900.


Eroakirkosta.fi is a Finnish website which offers an electronic service for resigning from Finland's state churches; the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church. "Eroa kirkosta" translates to "resign from the church".

The website was created by Freethinkers of Tampere, an organisation that supports a formal separation of church and state, and opened on 21 November 2003. The Finnish law on freedom of religion was updated on 1 August 2003 and then allowed resigning from religions without a visit to a bureau. Because eroakirkosta.fi is not maintained by magistrates, the website can not directly resign a person from a church. Instead, the website forwards the filled-in resignation forms to magistrates who then complete the resignation. Resignations through e-mail are allowed because the Finnish law requires resignations to be "in writing" but not "signed". Eroakirkosta.fi also gives the user the alternative to print the resignation form and send it through regular mail.

Eroakirkosta.fi became popular very quickly. Within ten weeks over 1,400 people had resigned through the website. In 2004, almost 39% of all resignations in the country were done through eroakirkosta.fi. In 2005, the percentage increased to 68.9. In 2006, almost four out of five persons resigned through the website. The total resignation rates in Finland have also increased. The number of people resigning from the state churches has tripled in six years (2000–2006), and the 2005 and 2006 resignation numbers both break the old record of 30,710 from 1992. 47 300 members left the church through the service in 2008, that is 91% of all resignations (52,200). In 2011, 46,502 resignations and in 2012, 41,261 resignations were registered at the Eroakirkosta.fi site.

Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission

The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM, formerly The Finnish Missionary Society; Finnish: Suomen Lähetysseura ry; Swedish: Finska Missionssällskapet rf) is a Lutheran missionary society formed on January 19, 1859, in Helsinki, Finland. It is one of seven organisations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) that conduct missionary work. Its first deployments outside Finland were made to Ovamboland, an area that today is cut by the Angola-Namibian border.The FMS was organized by K. J. G. Sirelius, who first worked as the society’s secretary and during 1864–1872 as its first mission director. The FMS mission school was also founded during his term.The first missionaries from this society graduated in 1868 and were deployed to the Ovambo area in southern Africa that was later separated by colonial borders into southern Angola and northern South West Africa, today Namibia, in 1870. There they established the mission station at Omandongo, today in the Onayena Constituency of Oshikoto Region. The mission station was proclaimed a national monument in 2014.At the request of the Rhenish Missionary Society, but also due to a contempt of the politics and ideas of the German missionaries, their activities started with the Ondonga tribe of the Ovambo people. They later spread to all of Ovamboland, southern parts of Angola, and to the area that today is the Kavango Region. The first Ovambo pastors were ordained in 1925.By 1960, the society had deployed over 100 people in Ovamboland alone. Following political unrest in the Namibian struggle for independence, in the 1980s there were only 14 Finns left. After independence, Finland became one of the major supporters of development in Namibia. The Finnish Missionary Society ceded their missionary work and instead started to promote "friendship between the independent churches".

The best-known Finnish missionary in Namibia was Nakambale (Oshivambo: the one who wears the hat), a nickname given to Martti Rautanen. From 1880, Rautanen worked in Olukonda at one of the first mission stations to the Ovambo people. He initiated the building of the first church in Ovamboland in 1889, and he translated the Bible into Oshindonga, a dialect of Oshivambo.

Jukka Paarma

Jukka Paarma (born 1 December 1942 in Lappeenranta) was the Archbishop of Turku and Finland, and the spiritual head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. He retired as Archbishop on 1 June 2010.

List of bishops of Turku

The Archdiocese of Turku is the oldest diocese in Finland. Mediaeval bishops of the Catholic Church were also de facto secular leaders of the country until the end of the 13th century.

After the Reformation in Scandinavia, Lutheran bishops became state officials. When Finland became a separate grand duchy, the then Bishop of Turku was elevated to archiepiscopal rank in 1817. Since 1868, the Archbishops of Turku and Finland have been considered primates of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

Oulu International Children's and Youth Film Festival

Oulu International Children's and Youth Film Festival (Finnish: Oulun kansainvälinen lasten- ja nuortenelokuvien festivaali) is an annual children's film festival held in November in Oulu, Finland. The festival has been founded in 1982 by the Oulu Film Centre.There has been Children's Film competition at the festival since 1992. The jury of ten children chooses the best film and the Starboy Award is granted to the director of the film. Other awards are the ECFA Award for the best European film, the For Tomorrow Award to the best youth film and a prize of the Media Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland for a Finnish feature or short film at the film festival. The main venue for the festival is the Cultural Centre Valve in the city centre, films are also shown in the Finnkino cinema.

Religion in Finland

Finland is a predominantly Christian nation where some 72.9% of the 5.5 million overall population follow Christianity; the vast majority being members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (Protestant), 26.3% are unaffiliated, and 0.4% follow other religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, folk religion etc.There are presently two National churches (as opposed to State churches): the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (Protestant), which is the primary state religion representing 70.9% of the population by the end of 2017, and the Finnish Orthodox Church, to which about 1.1 % of the population belongs.

Those who officially belong to one of the two national churches have part of their taxes turned over to their respective church. There are also approximately 45,000 followers of Pentecostal Christianity, and more than 12,000 Catholic Christians in Finland, along with Anglicans, and some various Independent Christian communities. Prior to its Christianisation, beginning in the 11th century, Finnish paganism was the country's primary religion.

The Muslim population in Finland is 2.7% of the total, with about 150,000 adherents in 2016.

Samuel Lehtonen

Samuel Lehtonen (3 February 1921, Helsinki – 20 August 2010) was the Lutheran bishop of the Diocese of Helsinki of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland from 1982 to 1991.

Tapio Luoma

Tapio Luoma (born June 15, 1962) is a Finnish prelate and current Bishop of Espoo since February 1, 2012. He was elected to be the Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland from 1 June 2018.


Virsikirja (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈʋirsiˌkirjɑ], "hymn book") is the official hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland consisting of 632 hymns.

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