As the number of church members of foreign origin is increasing, it is natural that more and more of them will be elected to be members of the parish councils and the parish boards.
The General Synod, kirkolliskokous in Finnish, uses the highest authority to make decisions in the Church. It deals with doctrine and Church work as well as with its legislation, administration, and finance.
Its permanent members are the Bishops, the Chaplain General, 32 clergy representatives, and 64 elected lay representatives of the dioceses, representatives of the State, and a Sami representative elected by the Sami Parliament. The Archbishop acts as the chairman. Usually the General Synod assembles twice a year for one week each time.
The General Synod approves the new Bible translation, Christian doctrine, the Hymnal, the Church Handbook, and the mass compositions. It can make legislative proposals, such as changes to the Church Act. It approves the Church Order and the Order of Church Elections.
The Synod also makes statements and proposals to the Council of State for questions concerning the Church’s relationship with the State or with other denominations in . Issues of importance concern: marriage and family, human rights, employment, social security, religious instruction, public education, and church taxation.
The General Synod decides on the Church’s relationships with other churches and religious groups and with the federations of churches. It also decides upon the establishment of dioceses and on the altering of their boundaries.
The Synod also establishes and repeals the posts of the archbishop, other bishops, and heads of Church Council Units and the elected members of the Church Council. It also confirms the budget proposal of the Central Church Fund and decides how much the parishes must pay to the fund annually.