Juha Pihkala, PhD, in 1997–2008 bishop of Tampere (Tampere, Finland), juha.pihkala@jp ihkal.pp.fi
Pihkala J. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and its ecumenical relations, Religiya. Tserkov’. Obshchestvo. Issledovaniya i publikatsii po teologii i religii [Religion. Church. Society: Research and publications in the field of theology and religious studies], Saint-Petersburg, 2014, vol. 3, pp. 322–333.
In this paper the author shares his observations about the specifics of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, in particular, in terms of its role in interconfessional dialogue and ecumenical relations. The author notes the major stages in the development of the Church, starting from first Christian preaching to the Reformation time and then reform of the State and Church in the 19–20th centuries. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland occupies a unique position, being a legal person and having legislative functions, while State has no right to change Church law. Brief amount of Church structure that reflect in organizational principles democratic ideas is also given, and as it is noted by the author the Church of Finland isn’t an ideological monolith, including a variety of ecclesial movements and groups of believers. Largely due to these features the Church of Finland occupies leading role in ecumenical dialogue in recent decades. Especially, the author notes the relationship with the Anglican Church, regular conversations with the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic and other Lutheran churches in Scandinavian region. Of great interest are author’s observations on correlation in Church position and State international policy, that have different bases. However, Church being a universal phenomenon faces national and political background and reflects it in a variety of ways.