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Church Research Institute history

The Church Research Institute started its operations on 1 March 1969. At that time, the name in Finnish was ‘Kirkon tutkimuslaitos’. The Institute’s rules were approved by the extended Bishops’ Conference. The basis task of the Institute was “to carry out research pertaining to the Church and religious life as well as various trends in society as deemed necessary and useful for the decision-making and development of activities within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.” 

In addition to its own research, the Institute was expected to gather information from corresponding research conducted elsewhere, maintain contacts with the universities, institutes and researchers in the relevant disciplines, and to support research that is important for the purposes of the Church. The Institute was also assigned with the duty to draw up reports and surveys relevant for the Church, to assist in developing the activities of the Church, and to carry out the publishing of its research.

In 1984, the Finnish name ‘Kirkon tutkimuslaitos’ was changed to ‘Kirkon tutkimuskeskus’. As a result of the administrative reform in 1994, the Church Research Institute became an independent unit operating under the Director General of the National Church Council, and steered by the Board (currently: Advisory Board).



An initiative was presented at the General Synod to conduct research related to societal changes. The General Synod appointed a committee to examine “the effects of the rapid changes taking place in our society on the conditions of the Church activities and to make the necessary proposals for measures to be taken”. Professor Heikki Waris was elected as the chairman of the committee.


The report of the committee led by Waris was presented at the Pastors’ Meetings.


The committee report was considered the most important document at the General Synod, and the idea to establish a research institute as the most interesting and long-ranging detail in the report. An advisory committee was set up to outline the structure and tasks of the research institute, and, in a limited extent, initiate actual activities. Bishop Martti Simojoki, Professor Erkki Kansanaho and Professor Heikki Waris were appointed as members of the advisory committee.


The task of the research institute was subject to lively discussion in the Kotimaa newspaper. Its establishment was seen as a matter of urgency.


In September, Doctor of Theology Paavo Kortekangas started as a full-time researcher in Tampere, and continued in this position for 2.5 years.


The advisory committee’s proposal was completed and presented at the General Synod. The greatest differences of opinion among the representatives to the General Synod concerned the location of the research institute. The alternatives presented in the proposal were Helsinki, Turku and Tampere. The General Synod assigned the task of establishing the research institute and selecting its location to the extended Bishops’ Conference.


On 1 March 1969, the Church Research Institute was established and located in Tampere.


The original name in Finnish, Kirkon tutkimuslaitos, was changed to Kirkon tutkimuskeskus.


As of 1 January, the Church Research Institute became an independent unit under the National Church Council, operating under the Director General and steered by the Board. The Chair of the Board together with six Members and their personal Deputy Members are appointed by general assembly of the National Church Council.  The administrative reform did not result in any changes to the basic purpose and tasks of the Church Research Institute. The intention of the reform was to lighten the administration and speed up decision-making.


The Parish Union of Tampere gave up the premises at Satakunnankatu street and moved to new facilities. In this connection, the Parish Union gave notice to terminate the long-term rental agreement and the Church Research Institute moved to Hammareninkatu 7. The new lessor was the Pispalan rukoushuoneyhdistys ry association.


To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Church Research Institute arranged a seminar on 5–6 March in Tampere.


As of 1 August, the Advisory Board serves as the steering body for the Church Research Institute. The members continue to be appointed by the General Assembly of the National Church Council.


To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Church Research Institute arranged a seminar on 13 March in Tampere.


The Agency College of the Church Council decided on the termination of the premises in Tampere in March. The office of Tampere closed on 30 September 2021.

At the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, a change to the Church Council's Statute was adopted, which made it possible to make a decision to merge the Research Institute and the Institute for Advanced Training into the Church Institute for Research and Advanced Training separate unit.


Church Institute for Research and Advanced Training began operations on 1 January 2022.

Church Research Institute Directors

Th.D. Paavo Kortekangas 1969–1970
D.Soc.Sci Seppo Randell 1971
Th.D. Jouko Sihvo 1971–1978
Th.D. Heikki Mäkeläinen 1978–1982
Doc. Harri Heino 1982–1999
Th.M. Kari Salonen 1999–2001
Doc. Kimmo Kääriäinen 2001–2010
Th.D. Harri Palmu 2010–2012
Th.D., D.Soc.Sci Hanna Salomäki 2012–2014
Ph.D. Kimmo Ketola 2014–2017

D.Soc.Sci Veli-Matti Salminen 2021–2022

Th.D., D.Soc.Sci Hanna Salomäki 2017–2021, 2022


Advisory Board

Since August 2016, the Advisory Board (in Finnish: ‘neuvottelukunta’) is the steering body of the Church Research Institute. Earlier, the body was known in Finnish as ‘johtokunta’ (the Council) until the end of 1993 and ‘toimikunta’ (the Board) from 1994 to May 2016. 

Advisory Board 24.8.2016–31.12.2020


Bishop Jari Jolkkonen
Professor Heikki Hiilamo
Professor Auli Vähäkangas
Docent Ilkka Huhta
Chaplain Anja Nurminen
Th.D. Jutta Jokiranta
Professor Peter Nynäs

Deputy members

Docent Virpi Mäkinen
Ph.D. Aaro Harju
Professor Anne Birgitta Pessi
Professor Martin Ubani
Th.D. Leo Glad
Professor Arja Ropo
Th.D. Stefan Djupsjöbacka

Previous chairs

Professor Heikki Waris 1969–1974
Professor Pertti Pesonen 1975–1977
Bishop Erkki Kansanaho 1978–1982
Professor Seikko Eskola 1983–1996
Bishop Wille Riekkinen 1996–2012

Previous deputy chairs

Bishop Erkki Kansanaho 1969–1974, 77
Bishop John Vikström 1975–1976
Professor Kalevi Tamminen 1978–1980
Adjunct professor Fredric Cleve 1981–1982
Professor (afterwards Bishop) Eero Huovinen 1983–1991
Professor Hans-Olof Kvist 1992–1996
Professor Gustav Björkstrand 1996–2004
Professor Eila Helander 2004–2016