Parish elections are held every four years in November. Next elections are held 2026. All parishioners 16 years of age or older are entitled to vote. All parishioners 18 years of age or older are also entitled to vote in vicar elections and to submit motions to their parish’s elected bodies. Planning and work at each parish is guided by its parish council and board.
Multi-candidate lists may be put forward by a minimum of ten parishioners of voting age. Candidates must be confirmed adult members of the parish in question; full-time parish workers may not stand in the parish in which they work.Each candidate’s tally is calculated from the total number of votes received by that candidate’s list, and council places are allocated accordingly. Parish elections thus follow the same voting system as municipal and national elections in Finland.Those elected represent parishioners and collaborate with the parish workers. Ideally, they represent a range of ages and experience and bring their own perspectives on the parish’s work.
Any parish member may submit a motion concerning the work of their parish and church. The motion must be submitted to the parish office in writing for the consideration of the board. The board may then refer the motion to the council if it falls within the council’s remit. The board may even refer a motion concerning the entire Church to the General Synod, the Church’s highest decision-making body. In such cases, the motion follows the path of parishioner to parish board, then to diocesan council and, finally, to the General Synod.
Parishioners determine their parish’s agenda by electing a vicar to lead the parish’s work. The diocesan council nominates three candidates selected from those who have applied for the position. An additional candidate may be nominated by a group of at least ten parishioners, if that candidate is deemed eligible by the diocesan council.The candidate duly nominated by the diocesan council and receiving the most votes is elected. Candidates otherwise nominated are elected if they receive the votes of at least one-tenth of the parish membership and more than half of the votes cast.