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More on the Finnish Situation

September 27th, 2007
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Dear Brothers,

 

 

 

Now
has happened what I would not have thought possible in my worst
nightmares just one year ago: One of my brothers in office, Missionary
Ari Norro of the Finnish Lutheran Gospel Association (one of the
official mission organizations of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran
Church) as well as the president of the local branch of this
“evangelical movement” that is rich in tradition (comparable in Germany
with Löhe’s awakening) as well as Tauno Tuominen, the vice-senior
pastor of the Evangelical-Lutheran congregation in Hyvinkää, have been
charged in the county court with discrimination in the worship service.

 

 

 

It
happened more or less like this: The Gospel Association unequivocally
rejects women’s ordination, and Rev. Norro is among those who – like me
and many other brothers – do not officiate with women in the service.
Ms. Ojala, a lay-leader, shares his attitude. This is why she had in
time asked during the preparations for the service last March – and it
is about this service – who would be serving alongside Missionary
Norro, the guest preacher; she was told that it would be all male
pastors (and no female pastor). However, right before the beginning of
the service one female pastor of the congregation, Ms. Petra
Pohjanraito, showed up in the sacristy and said that she was scheduled
to help with communion. Rev. Norro responded that this – officiating
with female pastors – was against his firm conviction, but that he was
ready not to serve. However, the female pastor declined his offer; she
said that she had many other things to do, and then she left the
church. The vice-senior pastor allegedly remained passive during this
exchange.

 

 

 

The
entire conversation was observed by, among others, the head elder of
the congregation; and he, a police officer, then reported the matter to
the secular court. And after a few month, one could read in newspapers
yesterday and today that the secular court really charged the three
individuals: the vice-senior pastor because of “discrimination while in
office” and against the others because of simple discrimination.

 

 

 

We will have to wait and see whether the defendants will be sentenced. The trial is scheduled for November 16.

 

 

 

Generally
speaking, however, I consider it to be outrageous in a country that is
so proud of its modern ways and its democratic tradition, that a
secular court takes steps against the religious convictions expressed
in the day-to-day life of the church without the church’s resisting it;
in fact, the church – at least the bishops – look forward to having the
courts finally decide who is right and who is wrong in this lengthy
churchly dispute. And this is why the lay-activist, Ms. Ojala, is
probably only charged because she asked beforehand who was to serve at
the altar on the Sunday in question! Women can therefore also
discriminate against women! One really wonders when a regular
secular-churchly thought police will be established that reliably finds
out every “discriminating” thought and a “conservative” attitude and
right away drags the suspects into court.

 

 

 

If
I did not believe in the God whose kingdom is everlasting, I really
would be afraid. It is quite possible that I too will be tested in the
future and charged like Brother Norro. When I heard the news, my first,
spontaneous question was whether I really want to continue to live in
this land or whether we should emigrate in spite of everything. Now I
think that this too comes out of God’s hand and that He knows exactly
what He does and permits. This is why we can remain calm, wait, and
pray – and continue to build his congregation.

 

 

 

In a rush, with cordial greetings

 

I am your

 

Dr. Martti Vaahtoranta

 

 

 

Dr. Martti Vaahtoranta is a Finnish Lutheran pastor who, while living in Germany, was a member of the Wiesbaden congregation of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) in Germany. He has just returned to his home country.
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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. wcwirla
    September 27th, 2007 at 18:25 | #1

    “If I did not believe in the God whose kingdom is everlasting, I really would be afraid. It is quite possible that I too will be tested in the future and charged like Brother Norro. When I heard the news, my first, spontaneous question was whether I really want to continue to live in this land or whether we should emigrate in spite of everything. Now I think that this too comes out of God’s hand and that He knows exactly what He does and permits. This is why we can remain calm, wait, and pray – and continue to build his congregation.”
    This is a great and faith-full paragraph, applicable to many situations in the Church today.

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