In 1865, a law separated local government from parish administration in rural areas to respond to the needs of a changing society. In 1870, a new church law separated church from state, significantly affecting the functions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and its parishes. In the separation, the responsibility for education, healthcare and care for the poor was transferred to the municipalities. To this day, these are the most important tasks of municipalities and the ones on which most resources are expended.
In the separation, parishes retained responsibility for primarily ecclesiastical tasks, providing funerals and keeping public records. The Church’s responsibility to provide funerals continues to be regulated by the Finnish parliament even now, but most responsibility for keeping public records was transferred to the state with the establishment of the Population Register Centre in 1968.The state is still responsible for military and prison chaplaincy, but diocesan chapters oversee the work of military and prison chaplains. Throughout the Church, staff are trained through publicly funded education.