Dioceses and bishops

A diocese is an administrative area divided into deaneries.

Deaneries are then further divided into parish unions and parishes. Finland has nine Lutheran dioceses: Turku, Tampere, Oulu, Mikkeli, Borgå (Porvoo), Kuopio, Lapua, Helsinki and Espoo. The Diocese of Borgå serves those whose mother tongue is Swedish.

Each diocese is led by a bishop. All the bishops are ex officio members of the General Synod. Since 1998, the Diocese of Turku has had a bishop in addition to the Archbishop. The Bishop of Turku is responsible for the oversight of all the parishes of the diocese, except for those in the deaneries of Turku and Naantali, which are led by the Archbishop. This arrangement allows the Archbishop to take a leading role on the national and international stages.

Above all, bishops are the spiritual overseers of their diocese. They chair their diocesan chapter, which is responsible for the diocese's mission and administration. Since 2004, the chapters have worked in tandem with diocesan councils, which have fourteen lay and seven clergy representatives. The councils approve the diocesan budget and can send proposals to the General Synod.

The Chaplain General to the Defence Forces is known as the “Field Bishop” although he or she is not in bishop's orders. The position was created in 1941 to ensure that spiritual support was given to those involved in the war. The Field Bishop is an ex officio member of the General Synod and the Bishops' Conference.

Dioceses and bishops