Pastor dressing a clerical collar.

Women ordained for thirty years

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has been ordaining women for thirty years: the first female pastors were ordained on 6 March 1988. The decision to allow the ordination of women had been made two years earlier by the General Synod, which had already voted on the matter three times, but did not reach the necessary three-quarter majority until 1986.

Since then, the number of female clergy has been increasing steadily. In the twenty-first century, more women have been ordained as pastors than men, and women currently make up almost half of our acting pastors. However, women have so far held few positions in the Church leadership. Only 20% of our vicars are women, and only one woman has ever been made bishop: Irja Askola, the former bishop of Helsinki.

Only a small minority of our members oppose the ordination of women. According to figures from 2015, just 5% of our members and employees and 9% of elected parish officials object to women acting as pastors. Some revivalist movements, however, still refuse to ask women to speak at their events or officiate at their services.