Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland

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Coat of Arms of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.svg
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Turku cathedral 26-Dec-2004.jpg
Turku Cathedral, the Primatial and mother church of Finland
Classification Protestant
Orientation Lutheran
Polity Episcopal
Primate Tapio Luoma
Associations Conference of European Churches
Lutheran World Federation
Porvoo Communion
World Council of Churches
Region Finland
Founder Alexander I of Russia
Origin29 March 1809 (Diet of Porvoo)
Separated from Church of Sweden
Members3,743,000 (2020) [1]
Official website evl.fi/english

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. The church has a legal position as a national church in the country, along with the Orthodox Church of Finland. [2]

Contents

Recognition

Coat of Arms of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Coat of Arms of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.svg
Adopted1990

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 3.7 million members as of 2020, 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 2020, 67.6% 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.

History

Catholic bishopric

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland traces its lineage to the medieval Diocese of Turku, which coincides geographically with present-day Finland. [3] 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. [4] 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. [5]

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. Thomas was granted resignation by Pope Innocent IV on 21 February 1245. According to the pope, Thomas had admitted committing several felonies, such as torturing a man to death, and forging a papal letter. [6]

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. [7]

Part of the Church of Sweden

The sixteenth-century Hollola church which was converted during the Reformation Church.20051224 PM.hollola of finland.ojp.jpg
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. [8] 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. [9] [10] [11] Agricola was the first Bishop of Turku who was married. [12]

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. Henrik sormi.JPG
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. [13]

An independent state church

The Cathedral of Turku is considered the national shrine of Finland, and is the seat of its de facto primate. Turku Cathedral on December morning.jpg
The Cathedral of Turku is considered the national shrine of Finland, and is the seat of its de facto primate.

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. [14] 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. [15]

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. [16] 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. [15] [17]

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. [18]

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 in 1940, during the Winter 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. Kenttapappi-jorma-heiskanen.jpg
A Finnish military chaplain administering Holy Communion in 1940, during the Winter 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 among factory workers. 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. [19] [20]

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. [21]

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. [22]

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. [23] [24] 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. [25]

Position in Finnish society

Religion in Finland [26]
YearEvangelical Lutheran Church of FinlandFinnish Orthodox ChurchOtherNo religious affiliation
195095.7%1.7%0.4%2.7%
198090.3%1.1%0.7%7.8%
199087.9%1.1%0.9%10.2%
200085.1%1.1%1.1%12.7%
200583.1%1.1%1.1%14.7%
201078.2%1.1%1.4%19.2%
201177.2%1.1%1.5%20.1%
201276.4%1.1%1.4%21.0%
201375.3%1.1%1.4%22.1%
201473.8%1.1%1.6%23.5%
201573.0%1.1%1.6%24.3%
201672.0%1.1%1.6%25.3%
201770.9%1.1%1.6%26.3%
201869.8%1.1%1.7%27.4%
201968.7%1.1%1.7%28.5%
202067.8%1.1%1.7%29.4%

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. [27]

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. [28] 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. [29] [30]

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. [31]

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". [32]

Teachings

A wedding in Kiuruvesi Vihkimistilaisuus Kiuruveden kirkossa.JPG
A wedding in Kiuruvesi
A Juhannus ceremony Juhannussaarna.JPG
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 . [33] [34]

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. [35]

The Church accepts the doctrines of the virgin birth and bodily resurrection. [36]

The church does not embrace creationism but states: [36]

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 society. [37]

The relation of the church to sexuality is somewhat ambiguous, strictly condemning extramarital sex but in relation to premarital sex stating: [37]

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

Divorce and subsequent remarriage is accepted, with reservations. [37] 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. [38]

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." [39] 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. [40] 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". [41] 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." [42]

The Kuopio Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Kuopio Kuopio Cathedral Winter.jpg
The Kuopio Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Kuopio

In 2012, the Diocese of Kuopio appointed an openly transgender pastor to an office in the church. [43]

After same-sex marriage became legal in 2014, Archbishop Kari Mäkinen announced his support for gay marriage. [44] 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". [45] 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." [46] As with civil partnerships, the church teaches that "same-sex couples can have a prayer ceremony" in the church. [47] 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." [48] 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". [49] Nevertheless, the Diocese of Helsinki disciplined a pastor for performing a same-sex marriage. [50]

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". [51] [52]

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. [36] 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. [36]

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. [53] [54]

In the Holy Communion, or the Sacrament of the 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. [54] [55] The ordination of women is allowed.

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. [37] [56] [57] [58]

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.

Organisation

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanko from the Hanko water tower. Hanko Church from water tower.jpg
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. [59] [60] According to the Church Act, the parish is responsible for all the practical work performed by the church. [61] 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. [62] 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. [63]

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. [64] [65] 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. [66]

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. [67]

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, [68] 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. [69]

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.

DioceseFoundedCathedralIncumbent
Archdiocese of Turku 1156 Turku Cathedral Archbishop Tapio Luoma (2018– ),
Bishop Mari Leppänen (2021– )
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 Bo-Göran Åstrand (2019– )
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 [70] 1941none Pekka Särkiö (2012– )

Current bishops

See also

Other Nordic national Lutheran churches

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Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia is a Lutheran Protestant church in Latvia. Latvia's Lutheran heritage dates back to the Reformation. Both the Nazi and communist regimes persecuted the church harshly before religious freedom returned to Latvia in 1988. Unlike Estonia, where state atheism and the ongoing European secularization reduced the once 80% Lutheran majority to almost 10% by 2011, the Latvian Lutheran church had dropped to around 20% but has recovered slightly and now includes approximately 30% of the population.

The Archdiocese of Turku, 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 while all diocesan bishops retain their independence within their respective jurisdictions. This also applies to the Bishop of Turku Archdiocese. The Archdiocese of Turku has a unique episcopal structure as there are two bishops in the Diocese.

Religion in Finland

Finland is a predominantly Christian nation where 67.8% of the 5.5 million overall population are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (Protestant), 29.4% are unaffiliated, 1.1% are Orthodox Christians, 0.9% are other christians and 0.8% follow other religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, folk religion etc.

Anglican Communion and ecumenism

Anglican interest in ecumenical dialogue can be traced back to the time of the Reformation and dialogues with both Orthodox and Lutheran churches in the sixteenth century. In the nineteenth century, with the rise of the Oxford Movement, there arose greater concern for reunion of the churches of "Catholic confession". This desire to work towards full communion with other denominations led to the development of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, approved by the Third Lambeth Conference of 1888. The four points were stipulated as the basis for church unity, "a basis on which approach may be by God's blessing made towards Home Reunion":

Homosexuality and Lutheranism

Lutheran viewpoints concerning homosexuality are diverse because there is no one worldwide body which represents all Lutherans. The Lutheran World Federation, a worldwide 'communion of churches' and the largest global body of Lutherans, contains member churches on both sides of the issue. However, other Lutherans, including the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference and International Lutheran Council, completely reject homosexuality.

LGBT clergy in Christianity Christian clergy who are LGBT

The ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) clergy who are open about their sexuality, are sexually active if lesbian, gay, or bisexual, or are in committed same-sex relationships is a debated practice within some contemporary Christian Church communities.

Lutheranism Form of Protestantism commonly associated with the teachings of Martin Luther

Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and reformer whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Catholic church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity. During the Reformation, Lutheranism became the state religion of numerous states of Northern Europe, especially in northern Germany and the Nordic countries. Lutheran clergy became civil servants and the Lutheran churches became part of the state.

The Mission Diocese, officially the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, is an independent confessional Lutheran "ecclesial structure" in Finland. The Mission Diocese considers itself to be "part of ‘the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church’" to be "truly a church" and to act "fully independently as a church", although it has not applied for state-recognition as a registered religious community. The Mission Diocese has its origins in the conservative movements of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) and it self-identifies as existing in the same continuum of Lutheran faith and congregational life of the ELCF whose spiritual heritage it cherishes, yet not being part of its administrative structures.

The Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand (CCAANZ) is an evangelical denomination in New Zealand. It is not a member of the Anglican Communion as recognised by the current Archbishop of Canterbury, but is recognised by the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). The church consists of 17 parishes, some of which consist of clergy and church members who left the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia after it allowed bishops to authorise blessings of same-sex marriages, and some of which were newly established at the time of the formation of the church.

The Communion of Nordic Lutheran Dioceses are Lutheran dioceses that entered into schism with their Scandinavian national churches in 2003 due to what they perceived as "the secularization of the national/state churches in their respective countries involving matters of both Christian doctrine and ethics". These dioceses are members of the International Lutheran Council, a body of Confessional Lutherans who are in full communion with one another and include the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, Mission Province of the Church of Sweden, and the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Norway. These dioceses entered into schism with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Church of Sweden, and Church of Norway, respectively, though the Mission Province considers itself to be a non-territorial diocese within the Church of Sweden. Their lines of apostolic succession derive from other traditional Lutheran Churches, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya; Walter Obare Omwanza, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya, assisted by bishops Leonid Zviki from Belarus, David Tswaedi from South Africa, Børre Knudsen and Ulf Asp from Norway, consecrated Arne Olsson in apostolic succession as the Ordinary for the Mission Province. The first bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, Risto Soramies, was then ordained by Matti Väisänen of the Mission Province of the Church of Sweden. These dioceses have an Evangelical Catholic churchmanship, reflective of the influence of High Church Lutheranism and Pietist Lutheranism in Scandinavia. As such, the Communion of Nordic Lutheran Dioceses affirms:

We believe, teach and confess that biblical faith and doctrine which is founded on the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the New and the Old Testament and which has been expressed in the three main creeds of the Early Church, that is, the Apostolic, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan and the Athanasian Creed, and in the unaltered Augsburg Confession, and that is rightly and bindingly explained by all the books accepted into the Book of Concord of the Lutheran Church.

References

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  70. 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.

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