General Synod: Baptised adults can be granted additional godparents

The members of the General Synod

On 11 May 2023, the General Synod unanimously accepted the Church Council’s proposal to amend the Church Order so that baptised adults can be granted a maximum of two godparents after baptism. At the moment, only children can be granted godparents after baptism, on their guardian’s request.

The General Synod’s decision is based on its decision of November 2021 based on a member request that the Church Council prepare a proposal on amending the rules on godparents. The option of granting adults as well as children an additional godparent after baptism highlights the role of godparenthood and can help the baptised person grow in their Christian faith with the support of another adult in situations where their original godparent is no longer available.

The amended Church Order can enter into force at the earliest on 1 July 2023, when the new Church Act will take effect.

Cooperation agreement with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary

The General Synod approved the cooperation agreement with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary proposed by the Bishops’ Conference.

The formal agreement will promote collaboration between the two Churches and support twin parish and twin diocese work, building on the already extensive collaboration between them.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has previously entered into cooperation agreements with the Evangelical Church in Germany (1977), the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (2000, updated in 2014), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (2001), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Austria (2005), the China Christian Council (2006), the Church of Sweden (2006), the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (2013) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia (2017).

No changes to marriage terms

On 12 May 2023, the General Synod rejected the Church Council’s proposal to allow church weddings for couples with only one baptised Church member.

A majority of General Synod members voted for the proposal, but a qualified majority of three quarters of the votes, in this case 70 votes, would have been required for it to pass. The voting tally was 54 votes for, 39 votes against and one blank vote.

The purpose of the Church Council’s proposal was to allow Church members in our diversifying society to have a church wedding even if their spouse is not a member of the Church or another Christian community. This would also have formalised the right of Church members to practice their religion, also in the marriage ceremony.

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