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Update on Finnish Situation

September 29th, 2010
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Matti Väisänen, a bishop in the Mission Province of Sweden and Finland (Missionsprovinsen i Sverige och Finland), conducts his first ordination service on 2nd October 2010. The ordination, taking place in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart in Helsinki, will be the first Mission Province ordination in Finland.

The four candidates for ordination have been called by koinonias of Luther Foundation Finland. Sami Liukkonen will serve St.Titus in Mikkeli (S:t Michel), Eero Pihlava will become an assistant pastor in St. Mark in Helsinki (Helsingfors), St.Matthew in Hämeenlinna (Tavastehus) will receive Markus Nieminen, and Jani-Matti Ylilehto will shepherd the St. Andreas koinonia in Kokkola (Karleby). After this newest addition, the network of koinonias in Finland will be served by fifteen employed pastors – among them the eight pastors ordained by Arne Olsson, now emeritus Mission Bishop of Mission Province – supported by a dozen or so retired shepherds .

The bishops of the established church, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, have maintained that only those willing to work together with female clergy are eligible for ordination. The retirement of the last confessional bishop, Olavi Rimpiläinen, in 2000, meant that it has been practically impossible for those who reject the unbiblical doctrine and practice of women’s ordination to be ordained and thus admitted into the pastoral office. Many congregations and parachurch organizations would issue calls, but the ‘confessional quarantine’ imposed on the theologically conservative minority by the bishops of the established church has prevented this. The service to be held on 2nd October will thus be the first ordination in Finland for ten years with candidates fully holding to the apostolic understanding of the Office of the Ministry are ordained.

Matti Väisänen was consecrated as bishop on 20th March 2010. His responsibility is not only to serve congregations by ordaining pastors as they are called, but also to act as a seelsorger for those already in the Office, thus being a ‘shepherd of shepherds’. For young pastors, receiving their first call in a turbulent ecclesial situation, this kind of pastoral care is priceless. To share the burden, a consistory of five members has been assembled, entrusted with the tasks of, for example, examining new candidates for the pastoral office as well as handling disputes, if any arise.

Luther Foundation Finland is an organization founded in 1999 with the purpose of helping faithful Finnish Lutherans, left homeless by the increasingly liberal established church, to build up koinonias, i.e. communities formed around the pure proclamation of Word and the correct administration of the Sacraments. During the eleven years of its operation, the work has now spread to 24 cities, with the demand for new koinonias still being strong.

Esko Murto
Theological Secretary
Luther Foundation Finland

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  1. September 29th, 2010 at 10:50 | #1

    “Many congregations and parachurch organizations would issue calls, but the ‘confessional quarantine’ imposed on the theologically conservative minority by the bishops of the established church has prevented this.”
    This is a false statement. The decision to go against Gods will and stay in the statechurch has prevented ordination. The real problem is the disobedience of the conservatives.

    I suppose you will delete this post as usual.

    • September 29th, 2010 at 16:37 | #2

      Wrong. I only delete your comments when you feel a need to keep repeating yourself. So, here again, you have had your say.

      And I say to you, again, that it is unfortunate that rather than supporting these men in their confessional struggle, all you can think to do is continue to criticize and condemn them.

  2. September 30th, 2010 at 07:49 | #3

    Pastor Sørensen has got his facts wrong.

    (1) The ELCF, unlike the Danish Church, is not a state church (even though it is behaving increasingly like one).

    (2) The ordination block is a fairly recent phenomenon, going back 10 years (as the article states). Women’s ordination was authorised in 1986.

    (3) The block on ordinations and appointments to parish posts that is being maintained by the bishops is illegal. The 1986 General Synod decision to allow women’s ordination included a resolution to safeguard freedom of conscience and an equal right to exercise the offices of the ordained ministry for opponents of women’s ordination. This has been overruled, without legal authority and with very dubious arguments, by a committee set up by the college of bishops.

    Therefore, although the ELCF is without doubt heterodox, it is not (and legally should not be) a necessary corollary of membership in that church body that you cannot receive ordination unless you accept women’s ordination.

    Of course you can say: orthodox Lutherans should not be in heterodox Lutheran churches. Perhaps, but that doesn’t make things quite so simple on the ground. First, if you are a pastor, you are a shepherd of souls. If every orthodox pastor left the ELCF, they would leave behind the flocks entrusted to them—and leave them to wolves. Secondly, the recent rapid changes are all contrary to the church’s own confession and constitution. If you hold to that confession while the majority violates it, does it follow that you must leave the church. Or work to bring the church to repentance (even against all odds), to bring her back to her own confession, for the sake of the church and for the sake of the nation—indeed, for the sake of the faith and confession of the Church, and her Lord and Master?

    When the creed confesses the “one, holy Christian and apostolic Church”, it is not referring to the “one and only holy Christian and apostolic denomination—and damn the rest”.

    • September 30th, 2010 at 10:47 | #4

      Thanks, brother, for your very necessary correction of the Danish chap’s continuing false allegations and assertions!

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