General Synod referred proposal on amending the concept of marriage in the Church Order to committee debate

Elected in February, the new General Synod convened for the first time in Turku on 13–17 May 2024. 

In its meetings, the General Synod discussed the Bishops’ Conference proposal to amend the Church Order with respect to the concept of marriage and then referred it to committee debate. The earliest the committee’s report on this subject will be discussed is November, the next time the General Synod will meet.

In its proposal, the Bishops’ Conference suggests adding to the Church Order a provision on parallel approaches to marriage. One of the approaches considers marriage to be a union between a man and a woman; the other defines marriage as a union between two persons. The two approaches have different theological justifications.

The preliminary debate on the proposal elicited a total of 67 responses. Some considered the proposal to be a compromise that would represent an important step forward in the long-standing marriage debate. Of those opposing the proposal, some objected to this compromise because they see marriage only as a union between a man and a woman, whereas others were against the proposal because they believed it would enable discrimination. For the proposal to pass, it needs a three-quarters majority in a General Synod vote.

The General Synod also discussed representative motions on changing the parish structure, amending the provision on the General Synod’s qualified majority, and extending young influencer groups’ right to attend and speak at parishes. A diocesan board proposal suggested moving to electronic voter lists and electronic voting in parish elections. These proposals were sent to General Synod committees for discussion.

Also referred to committee by the General Synod was a proposal from the Bishops’ Conference to start revising the Church Manual from Part III, which covers services such as baptisms, confirmations, wedding ceremonies and funeral services.

The General Synod adopted the financial statements of the Central Church Fund and the Church Pension Fund for 2023 and approved the Central Church Fund’s revised budget for 2024.

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