Ecumenical Integration Going Back 35 Years
The Lutheran Church of Finland and the EKD have supported ministries abroad together since 1977
March 27, 2012
The first agreement between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) and the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) was signed 35 years ago, on 20 May 1977 in Frankfurt am Main. This agreement created a reliable basis for church work among the Finns living in Germany and the Germans living in Finland.
To mark the occasion of this anniversary, Jukka Keskitalo, president of the ELCF's governing body, came to Hanover and joined with Hans Ulrich Anke, president of the EKD Church Office, and Bishop Martin Schindehütte, head of the EKD Department of Ecumenical Relations, in remembering with gratitude the signing of the 1977 agreement.
The agreement was, for the two churches, the first of its kind in ministries abroad. It offered the Finnish nationals living in Germany membership in the Protestant regional churches. The EKD then supported church activities in Finnish, while, in return, the work of the German Evangelical Lutheran community in Finland was fostered by the ELCF. This reciprocal activity broke new ground at the time. However, since then the "integration principle" has characterized the cooperation of the two churches and formed the basis for similar agreements between the EKD and other churches.
Cooperation between the two churches was defined even more specifically by the agreements of 1986 and 2002. These bilateral agreements meanwhile cover the cultivation of interchurch contacts, the position of German and Finnish pastors during their time abroad, the financial obligations of the two churches and, last but not least, the broad theological basis of the cooperation.
Finnish church work in Germany mainly takes place in the 17 Finnish congregations spread over the whole federal territory. Five pastors are responsible for pastoral care in Finnish. In Finland the German Evangelical Lutheran congregation has its center in Helsinki and in Turku the congregation meeting in the cathedral chapel (Kapellengemeinde) has two full pastorates. In addition, church activities take place at many other locations in the two countries.