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New Bishop for Finnish Lutherans

May 13, 2013 5 Comments

FINLAND – On May 4, Rev. Risto Soramies was installed in Helsinki as the Bishop of the newly organized Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland. The installation took place in the Sacred Heart Chapel of the Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland.

new-bishop-finland

Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Torgerson (right) greets Bishop Soramies

Bishop Soramies served many years as a missionary to Turkish immigrants to Germany. In the early 2000s, he was founding pastor of Istanbul Lutheran Church in Turkey. He speaks German and Turkish fluently, in addition to Finnish.

Bishop Soramies succeeds Bishop Matti Väisinen who is retiring. Bishop Väisinen—along with the Swedish Mission Province’s Bishop Roland Gustafsson and Bishop Thor Henrik With of the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Norway—consecrated Bishop Soramies at the installation service. More than 500 worshipers from all over Finland attended the event.

Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Torgerson, Adjunct Professor at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (St. Catharines, Ontario) participated in the installation as a representative of both Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) and Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church. He carried a letter from LCC’s President Robert Bugbee congratulating Bishop Soramies on his election.

“I thank God for the courageous witness you and your co-workers are providing in a society which needs the biblical Gospel of Christ very desperately,” President Bugbee wrote in the letter, “and for your dedication to work in a place where doctrine and theology in the established church have deteriorated tragically in recent decades.”

He continued: “Please know that, despite long distances, there are others of us around the world who stand close to you in the faithful confession of Jesus Christ, crucified and raised from the dead.”

The origins of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland date to 1999, when a group of Lutherans committed to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions organized the Luther Foundation Finland (LFF). The group represented confessional Lutherans within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) who opposed the mainline church’s break from historic Lutheran doctrine, and sought to provide alternative ecclesiastical jurisdiction to clergy and churches which rejected the increasingly liberal theology of the national church.

The ELCF refused to recognize the LFF, and so the group of confessional Lutherans eventually affiliated with the Mission Province in Sweden. They received their own bishop in 2010. Earlier this year on March 16, confessional Lutherans in Finland officially formed the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, with 30 churches and 37 pastors. On April 20, the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Norway was also officially established.

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5 Comments »

  • Samuli Siikavirta said:

    Thanks for an informative article! It has some mistakes, however. The Sacred Heart Chapel in Helsinki belongs to the Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland (LEAF), and Bishop Thor Henrik With comes from the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Norway. There is no such thing as ‘The Finnish Mission Society’, and by that the author of the article probably meant the Luther Foundation Finland in the final paragraph of the article.

  • The Canadian Lutheran (author) said:

    Thanks for the comments Samuli. We’ve added corrections to the article
    above, and further noted the April founding of the Evangelical Lutheran
    Diocese of Norway. We’ve also added video of the installation of Bishop
    Soramies.

  • Samuli Siikavirta said:

    Wonderful. Thanks for the prompt response. And again, thank you for covering this news. It is encouraging to know that the new Confessional Lutheran beginnings in the Nordic Countries are being followed by brothers and sisters in Christ across the Pond.

  • Internationella kontakter said:

    […] New Bishop for Finnish Lutherans […]

  • Canadian Lutheran Online » Blog Archive » CLTS to welcome Finnish scholar for 2015-2016 said:

    […] is a young pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF). The church was officially formed in 2013, though the origins of the group date back to 1999. The ELMDF emerged out of the state church of […]

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