The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is a Lutheran Church and the most common church in Finland. With a subscription rate of 85 percent (2003) it is the largest denomination in Finland, though it has lost some membership as society has secularized.
The head of the church is the Archbishop of Turku, currently Jukka Paarma.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is a successor to the Church of Sweden of which it was a part until 1809, when the Grand Duchy of Finland became a part of the Russian Empire. Before the introduction of religious freedom in 1923 membership in either the Finnish Orthodox Church or the Evangelical Lutheran Church was compulsory.
The church is founded on the teachings of Martin Luther. It teaches that all who believe in Jesus will be saved. This is because every man sins, no one person can be good enough to God by his/her acts. As apostle Paul said, only the faith in Jesus Christ can save, for He carried all our sins and suffered the penalty we would have deserved. Thus we are saved by our faith in Him, our saviour.
The church does not control its members strictly, and members can be found to believe in things contradicting the teachings of the church, such as rebirth or horoscopes. The spirit of the New Testament is considered to be more important than the strict rules of the Old Testament. Rituals, such as weddings and funerals, are often considered to be the most important reasons to remain a member.
Because the church has the position as a state church it is able to collect membership fees in the form of taxes. It means that also businesses, and members of other churches and religions, to some extent contribute financially to the church.
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (http://www.evl.fi/english/) - Official site