Guest / Limited Access /

While recent elections solidify liberal leadership in Finland's state church, young conservative Lutherans are fighting to survive.

Last September, Helsinki's Irja Askola became the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church (FELC)'s first female bishop. In March of 2010, Kari Mäkinen defeated his anti-gay-marriage opponent for archbishop by 11 votes out of 1,175.

In October, a televised debate over homosexuality on the national broadcast station spurred 40,000 people to leave the FELC. This past March, Lutheran youth magazine Nuotta created a firestorm by posting a YouTube video of a girl describing her decision to leave a lesbian lifestyle after converting to Christianity.

The video prompted the FELC to recommend that funding be cut from two conservative youth ministries that publish Nuotta, said Timo Keskitalo, chairman of the Evangelical Alliance in Finland. Most Christian organizations are legally separate from the FELC, which comprises 78 percent of Finland's 5.3 million people, but operate under it. Local church councils can cut financial support to such groups and stop hosting their events.

The controversies shocked Finns, said Hannu Nyman, a pastor with Logos Ministries of Finland, which partners with Campus Crusade for Christ. "The division between conservatives and liberals in the church became more evident," he said. "Committed Christians have been taken by surprise at the strong liberal front among [FELC] leadership."

The FELC has taken steps to marginalize conservative youth, Keskitalo said. In late April, the Ministry of Education announced it would remove youth training accreditation from the Finnish Bible Institute, which supported the Nuotta video. Bishops refuse to ordain young ministers who do not support women's ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueJesus: Democratic King
Subscriber Access Only Jesus: Democratic King
Our most cherished democratic values are grounded in Jesus' sovereign authority.
RecommendedResearch Says: Young People Don't Want Hip Pastors
Subscriber Access Only Research Says: Young People Don't Want Hip Pastors
A study of 250 congregations suggests that youth and young adults want substance rather than style.
TrendingOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Editor's PickHow Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
How Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
Peer-reviewed research intensifies parenting debates… and can leave us even more confused.
Christianity Today
Youth Movement: Finns Seek Renewal
hide thisJuly July

In the Magazine

July 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.