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Recently completed research projects

Below you will find information about some of our domestic and international research projects that have recently been completed.


Changing family and marriage concepts within the Church, culture and society

Coordinated by the Church Research Institute, the research project aimed to explore how the concepts of family and marriage are changing in the Church and within our culture and society. The project was commissioned by the General Synod.  Researchers Kimmo Ketola and Veli-Matti Salminen of the Church Research Institute contributed as authors of the published articles.

The following book has been published as part of the project:


The role of Church and religion in the Nordic countries

The Church Research Institute participated in the project entitled ‘The Role of Religion in the Public Sphere. A Comparative Study of the Five Nordic Countries’, which was funded by Nordic research communities. The project focused on the changing role of religion in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland since the 1980s.

The role of religion was investigated in relation to other concurrent social phenomena, such as increased immigration, population structure changes, market economy developments, cultural transformation and changing position of families and gender roles.  The following issues were discussed in particular:

  • The relations between the Church and State

  • The role of religion in politics

  • The role of religion in the media

  • The relations between religion and the civic society.

In addition to the Church Research Institute, the parties involved in the project included the Institute for Church, Religion, and Worldview Research (KIFO, Norway), the Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre at the University of Uppsala (Sweden), the University of Aarhus (Denmark), and the University of Iceland.

The following book has been published as part of the project:


International research on confirmation training

The second round of the international research on confirmation training (in Finland known as confirmation school) was implemented during 2013–2014.  The research involved both Lutheran and Reformed churches. The study population included adolescents undergoing confirmation in 2013 and their confirmation training teachers and volunteer leaders.  The following countries participated in the study: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and Poland.

The aim of the study was to research the meaning of the confirmation training in teenagers’ lives as well as various issues related to its implementation from the viewpoints of the youth themselves and their teachers and junior leaders. Material for the study was collected by means of questionnaires at the start and end of the confirmation training, and two years after it.  A variety of parishes from all over Finland were involved in the study.

The following book has been published as part of the project:

  • Confirmation, Faith and Volunteerism. A Longitudinal Study on Protestant Adolescents in the Transition towards Adulthood. European Perspectives. Edited by Friedrich Schweitzer, Thomas Schlag, Henrik Simojoki, Kati Tervo-Niemelä and Wolfgang Ilg (2017). (For inquiries, please send e-mail to

Changing communality in the Church

The research project focusing on the changing communality within the Church (in Finnish: Kirkon muuttuva yhteisöllisyys) was carried out in 2012–2015.   The purpose of the study was to examine how religiousness in Finland has changed in terms of commitment to the Church and communality. The research questions and perspectives were defined as follows:

  • In what ways do online communication and other new forms of communication contribute to the building of communality?
  • How is communality being built and supported in various religious communities?
  • How is Christian tradition being transferred in the 2000s?
  • What meanings does the Church have in the everyday life and festive occasions of the Finnish population?

The research project sought to find methods to support and strengthen Church commitment and Christian identity. The aspects discussed included, for example, the relationship of the passive members of parishes to the Church, online devotional life, and regional variation in terms of commitment to the Church.  Moreover, the research dealt with religiosity as part of everyday life and the changing concept of calling within the Church.

Co-operative partners in the project included the University of Eastern Finland (the Congregational mobile technologies project), the Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences and the parish unions of Tampere and Helsinki.  Doctoral and Master’s level students from the universities of Helsinki, Tampere, Jyväskylä and Eastern Finland as well as Åbo Akademi University were involved in the project.

The project resulted in online publications, while also advancing individual researchers’ publishing in various forums.

The following books have been published as part of the project:


Death as seen by Finnish theologians

The research on Finnish theological discussion related to death (in Finnish: Kuolema suomalaisessa teologiassa) focused on three prominent Finnish theologians of the 1900s and their understandings of death, preparation for death and events after death.  The research material comprised of the literature and writings of Osmo Tiililä, Irja Kilpeläinen and Martti Lindqvist.

In Osmo Tiililä’s thinking, the Bible is the representation of God’s revelation.  When all of the New Testament’s texts dealing with death and post-mortem existence are compiled into a logical whole, the result is the doctrine of intermediate state as presented by Tiililä.  According to Tiililä, there is no foundation in the Bible to support the idea that human beings would go to heaven or perdition immediately at the moment of their death. The Bible speaks of resurrection, which is followed by the ultimate division in two. There are different understandings of what the intermediate state is like.  It is probably not sleeping, or the dying of the soul, but rather living a life in waiting.

Irja Kilpeläinen saw life after death as primarily a matter of hope. The eternal life exists, but what that means remains a secret during our earthly life. Reunion with the beloved will take place, but the form of the reunion remains to be seen. Kilpeläinen’s idea was that death means a transition from being with loved ones to the company of other, perhaps even more closely related persons.  They are previously deceased relatives and friends who are waiting for those who come later.

According to Martti Lindqvist, the Christian view of life inherently includes the perceptions of life being limited and of mortality.  To comprehend the fleeting aspect of life is key to a deeper understanding of life’s unique value.  Each moment is of measureless value since all we have is given as a gift and loan to us. As human beings are not immortal, we need to live our lives bravely and without sparing ourselves.  The purpose of life is living, that is, becoming visible, and it calls for self-confidence and courage to venture forth in life. The hardest question for a dying person is: Did I have life before death?

The following book has been published as part of the project:


Hymn research

The hymn research project, which ended in 2014, aimed at exploring the position and significance of hymns in Finnish culture and religious life.

Hymns and other spiritual songs are essential means for transferring religious tradition, and they play an important role both for individuals as part of their religious experience and spirituality and for communities as shared expressions of Christian faith.

Co-operative partners in the research project included, among others, the University of Helsinki, the University of Eastern Finland, and the Sibelius Academy. The multidisciplinary project aimed to examine hymns from various perspectives, including pedagogical and sociological approaches, hymnology and popular music research. The studied topics covered, for example, the meaning of hymns in an individual’s life course, the role of hymns as teachers of Christian tradition at homes, schools and in the Church, and the hymn traditions of different spiritual movements.

The following books have been published as part of the project:

The project continues as a network of doctoral and post-doc researchers in the field of hymnology and spiritual songs. An international website has been launched for hymnological research: The Helsinki Forum for Research of Sacred Songs and Hymnology.The link opens in a new tab