General Synod donates a half a million to Ukrainians

The General Synod decided on 5 May 2022 to donate 500,000 euros through Finn Church Aid to Ukrainians suffering as a result of the war. The donation will involve a change to the Central Church Fund’s 2022 budget.

It was the view of the General Synod’s Committee for Financial Affairs that the Central Church Fund must also offer its financial support in this unusual and unexpected crisis, which affects the whole world. The General Synod did not, however, accept other changes to the 2022 budget as proposed by the Church Council. 

Marriage debate continues; bishops asked to continue their work

The General Synod held a further discussion on same-sex marriage. The discussion stems from the Constitutional Committee’s report that was created in response to an August 2021 member proposal with ‘a request for the Bishops’ Conference to prepare a proposal on marrying and blessing same-sex couples’. The Committee report included a dissenting opinion by seven Committee members.

After a vote, the General Synod decided to send the proposal to the Bishops’ Conference for information, as proposed by the Constitutional Committee. The General Synod also decided to ask the Bishops’ Conference to continue the work on the Church’s concept of marriage that it first presented in its letter of response to the General Synod in August 2020.

Church Council to create equality and non-discrimination plan

The General Synod requested that the Church Council draw up an operational equality and non-discrimination plan that includes a model for operational equality and non-discrimination planning intended for parishes.

According to the General Committee, this will be another of the several measures the Church has already implemented to promote equality and non-discrimination.

Church Council tasked with environmental impact assessment

The Church wants to be a forerunner in climate matters, and the objective of its energy and climate strategy is for the Church to become carbon neutral by 2030. The assessment and measurement of environmental effects plays a key role in the achievement of this objective, and the General Synod has now tasked the Church Council with further developing easy-to-use tools that parishes can deploy to determine the environmental effects of their real estate and land use.

The General Synod also decided to amend the agreement between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Evangelical Church in Germany. By 2025, all Finnish pastors working in Germany will be employed by the Finnish Seamen’s Mission in Hamburg. At the moment, pastors serving Finns in Germany are employed by a member church of the Evangelical Church in Germany. 

Future decision-makers observed the General Synod discussion on evangelism

On 6 May 2022, the last day of the General Synod, the topics were evangelism and Church law. Morning sessions were attended by a group of young people who had met with General Synod members the previous evening at an event organised by the Finnish Association for Children and Youth, the Church Council and the General Synod. The event was designed to give a group of school-aged children and Finnish- and Swedish-speaking young people the opportunity to talk with General Synod members about how the voices of young people could better be heard at all levels of Church decision-making.

The General Synod also charged the Church Council with creating an action policy on evangelism that will pay particular attention to outreach work, e.g. by improving Church staff training and skills in evangelism and missiology. The General Synod also requested that its dioceses promote evangelism in their dioceses and parishes.

Lastly, the General Synod approved the supplementary proposal on Church law drafted by the Church Council.

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