The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Who is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and what are its ministries?
A church in Finland
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
(ELCF), a member of the Lutheran World Federation
(LWF), is made up of just over 4.5 million members. The ELCF is organized in an episcopal-synodical basis and its clergy have apostolic succession. It has eight regional dioceses and one non-geographical Swedish-speaking diocese based in Porvoo, east of Helsinki. The ELCF approved the ordination of women in 1986, and the first woman was ordained in 1988.
The church's pastors are educated in the country's two theological faculties, in the University of Helsinki and the Swedish University in Turku.
Gathering together for worship is at the heart of the ELCF’s ministry. During the week, many people engage in small group Bible study, discussion and prayer. According to the ELCF, “Sunday services in Finland are not such social gatherings as in many other countries, so it is easier to get to know other people in activities and meetings that are held on weekdays and evenings.” Many parishes offer a wide variety of opportunities for all ages to participate in fellowship.
A baptism in Finland
The ELCF parishes also serve the needs of the local community. They provide many social services, offer counseling to all people, and reach out to welcome immigrants. There are ministries for all ages, including family clubs and youth ministry.
The 19th century saw the formation of many independent voluntary associations. Among the most durable has been the Finnish Missionary Society, founded in 1859. Now known as the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, it has worked in Namibia, China, Tanzania, Taiwan, Thailand, and numerous other countries including Israel, Bangladesh, Angola, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Senegal.
The International Evangelical Church
in Finland (IEC) is an interdenominational congregation which offers Christians from all nations, churches, cultures and races a spiritual home for worship and service in the English language. Worship services are held in English, in Arabic, in Amharic (spoken in Ethiopia), and in Chinese. Bible studies meet throughout Helsinki and neighboring towns. An International Coffee House meets each month. There are many activities for young adults, including weekly home meetings, Sunday brunches, Bible studies, retreats, and international student gatherings.How do the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America accompany one another in ministry?
Through the churchwide ELCA Global Mission unit, the ELCA relates to and is in bilateral relationship with over 80 companion churches and institutions. The ELCA Global Mission unit stewards a church-to-church relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
This relationship is deepened and extended by the ELCF's relationship in the Tempere Diocese, through the ELCA Companion Synods program, with the Delaware-Maryland Synod.Churchwide funding
through the ELCA Global Mission unit supports key priorities identified by the ELCF, including, for a time, the International Evangelical Church in Helsinki; the IEC congregation now fully supports its ministry. The ELCA’s Finlandia University, founded in 1896 as Suomi College by Finnish immigrants, remains connected to the Church in Finland.Finland: The context in which the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland serves
Finland celebrated its independence from Russia on December 6, 1917. Its constitution was put into effect on July 17, 1919. More than 5,231,000 people live in Finland. They recognize both Finnish and Swedish as their official languages with small Lapp and Russian-speaking minorities. The religious make-up is Lutheran National Church (84%), and none or other (16%).
Finland has a highly industrialized, largely free-market economy; with per capita output roughly that of the UK, France, Germany and Italy. Its key economic sector is manufacturing. Exports equal almost two-fifths of GDP. Finland largely depends on imports of raw materials, energy and some components for manufactured goods. Agricultural development is limited to maintaining self-sufficiency in basic products. Forestry, an important export earner, provides a secondary occupation for the rural population. Finland was the only Nordic country joining the euro monetary system (EMU) on January 1, 1999, and integration with the European economy will dominate the economic picture for Finland over the next few years. High unemployment (7.9%) remains a persistent problem.
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