The General Synod discussed the theology of blessing and the concept of marriage
The General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland was appointed for a new four-year term in February and met for the first time in Turku from 10 to 14 August 2020. Coronavirus restrictions had previously forced the General Synod to postpone the meeting from its usual scheduled time in May.
The meeting week saw pandemic safety measures being followed, with only the synod members and those with the right to attend and speak admitted to the meeting on site. The meeting was streamed online for reporters and the general public.
The General Synod chair is Archbishop Tapio Luoma, with Synod members electing Seija Kuikka as the first vice-chair and Pertti Rajala second vice-chair.
Member proposal on the theology of blessing and on updating the rites of confirmation and blessing a home
During the week, the General Synod discussed a member proposal suggesting that the Church Council prepare a report on the theology of blessing. The report would then be used to update the rite of and instructions for confirmation services and to modernise the rite of blessing a home.
According to the proposal, the current order and wording of confirmation services no longer match the confirmation plan adopted in 2017 or reflect the strong emphasis that today's confirmation preparation places on involved participation and the realities that young people face. Updating the order would also help parishes organise confirmation services.
According to the proposal, elements of participation and involvement are also important in the rite of blessing a home, creating a natural link to the theology of blessing and the proposed report on it.
The proposal was moved forward to committee.
Bishops responded to the General Synod: The resolution to the marriage debate must build on an acceptance of differing views
In May 2018, the General Synod requested that the Bishops’ Conference promote respectful discussion and look for alternatives in solving the current conflict over the concept of marriage. The bishops published their letter of response on 6 August 2020.
The letter elicited a total of 45 responses at the meeting. The General Synod continues to be divided on the issue, but several people at the meeting also spoke for the necessity of finding a compromise and solution to the issue. As it stands, concepts and practices in connection with same-sex marriage vary across dioceses and parishes.
Many people concluded that this issue must be discussed further in upcoming meetings.
Four-million-euro budget change approved
The General Synod decided to add three million euros to the Central Church Fund’s 2020 budget for helping parishes, along with one million euros for helping church organisations survive the coronavirus pandemic.
The next General Synod meeting will be held from 3 to 6 November 2020.