The first ordination by Bishop Matti Väisänen

An official announcement from Luther Foundation Finland. (More info plus photos will follow anon)

Matti Väisänen, a bishop in the Mission Province of Sweden and Finland (Missionsprovinsen i Sverige och Finland), conducts his first ordination service on 2nd October 2010. The ordination, taking place in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart in Helsinki, will be the first Mission Province ordination in Finland.

The four candidates for ordination have been called by koinonias of Luther Foundation Finland. Sami Liukkonen will serve St.Titus in Mikkeli (S:t Michel), Eero Pihlava will become an assistant pastor in St. Mark in Helsinki (Helsingfors), St. Matthew in Hämeenlinna (Tavastehus) will receive Markus Nieminen, and Jani-Matti Ylilehto will shepherd St. Andrew’s koinonia in Kokkola (Karleby). After this newest addition, the network of koinonias in Finland will be served by fifteen employed pastors – among them the eight pastors ordained by Arne Olsson, now emeritus Mission Bishop of Mission Province – supported by a dozen or so retired shepherds .

The bishops of the established church, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, have maintained that only those willing to work together with female clergy are eligible for ordination. The retirement of the last confessional bishop, Olavi Rimpiläinen, in 2000, meant that it has been practically impossible for those who reject the unbiblical doctrine and practice of women’s ordination to be ordained and thus admitted into the pastoral office. Many congregations and parachurch organizations would issue calls, but the ‘confessional quarantine’ imposed on the theologically conservative minority by the bishops of the established church has prevented this. The service to be held on 2nd October will thus be the first ordination in Finland for ten years with candidates fully holding to the apostolic understanding of the Office of the Ministry are ordained.

Matti Väisänen was consecrated as bishop on 20th March 2010. His responsibility is not only to serve congregations by ordaining pastors as they are called, but also to act as a seelsorger for those already in the Office, thus being a ‘shepherd of shepherds’. For young pastors, receiving their first call in a turbulent ecclesial situation, this kind of pastoral care is priceless. To share the burden, a consistory of five members has been assembled, entrusted with the tasks of, for example, examining new candidates for the pastoral office as well as handling disputes, if any arise.

Luther Foundation Finland is an organization founded in 1999 with the purpose of helping faithful Finnish Lutherans, left homeless by the increasingly liberal established church, to build up koinonias, i.e. communities formed around the pure proclamation of Word and the correct administration of the Sacraments. During the eleven years of its operation, the work has now spread to 24 cities, with the demand for new koinonias still being strong.

Esko Murto
Theological Secretary
Luther Foundation Finland

3 thoughts on “The first ordination by Bishop Matti Väisänen”

  1. “Many congregations and parachurch organizations would issue calls, but the ‘confessional quarantine’ imposed on the theologically conservative minority by the bishops of the established church has prevented this.”

    This is a false statement. The decision to go against Gods will and stay in the statechurch has prevented ordination. The real problem is the disobedience of the conservatives.

  2. Pastor Sørensen, let me repeat here my reply to you on Cyberbrethren.

    (1) The ELCF, unlike the Danish Church, is not a state church (even though it is behaving increasingly like one).

    (2) The ordination block is a fairly recent phenomenon, going back 10 years (as the article states). Women’s ordination was authorised in 1986.

    (3) The block on ordinations and appointments to parish posts that is being maintained by the bishops is illegal. The 1986 General Synod decision to allow women’s ordination included a resolution to safeguard freedom of conscience and an equal right to exercise the offices of the ordained ministry for opponents of women’s ordination. This has been overruled, without legal authority and with very dubious arguments, by a committee set up by the college of bishops.

    Therefore, although the ELCF is without doubt heterodox, it is not (and legally should not be) a necessary corollary of membership in that church body that you cannot receive ordination unless you accept women’s ordination.

    Of course you can say: orthodox Lutherans should not be in heterodox Lutheran churches. Perhaps, but that doesn’t make things quite so simple on the ground. First, if you are a pastor, you are a shepherd of souls. If every orthodox pastor left the ELCF, they would leave behind the flocks entrusted to them—and leave them to wolves. Secondly, the recent rapid changes are all contrary to the church’s own confession and constitution. If you hold to that confession while the majority violates it, does it follow that you must leave the church? Or work to bring the church to repentance (even against all odds), to bring her back to her own confession, for the sake of the church and for the sake of the nation—indeed, for the sake of the faith and confession of the Church, and her Lord and Master?

    On the basis of the principle, every orthodox Lutheran will be forced into a permanent nomadic church life, unless of course he or she can find the perfect church.

    When the creed confesses the “one, holy Christian and apostolic Church”, it is not referring to the “one and only holy Christian and apostolic denomination—and damn the rest”.

  3. here is my answer from Cyberbrethren plus some additonal comments (it would be nice to discuss it only one place, but McCain usually deletes comments, when the only alternative is to defend his position with arguments).

    1) Sorry about the Statechurch-confusion. Thats just a bad danish habit. I know it isn’t a Statechurch and it wasn’t a part of my point.

    2) How is that an argument agianst, what I wrote. It is still the decision to stay in the ELCF, that has prevented ordinations. As far as I know, there is religious freedom in Finland. Anyone can leave the ELCF, if the want to and form their own church.

    3) That might be, but it still isn’t an argument for the claim, that it was impossible for congregatiosn to issue calls. They could have left the ELCF, if they wanted, even though they might have had to leave the legal association and the property of the congregation in the ELCF.

    If a congregation doesn’t want to follow its confessional pastor out of a heterodox churhc, it is the congregations fault, not the pastors.

    When the creed refer to the one, holy Christian and apostolic hrcu, it refers to the invisible church, whose signs are the pure marks of the rightly preached word of God and the rightly administered sacraments. It doesn’t refer to the pietistic error, that the true believers are visible, but the true doctrine invisible. That error seems to be the doctrine of both the Mission Province and also the LCMS these days.

    Regarding the normadic life of orthodox lutherans, you are completely right. That is what Christ has promised his church, that it will be in constant battle against the heterodox. That is the theology of the cross. it is the thheology of glory when you accept false teaching in order to have a big church and beacuse you don’t want to seem like a sect.

    But it has nothing to do with finding a perfect church, if by that you mena a church taht is perfect in both doctrine and life. I know that scandinavian pietists usually try to make this a question about perfection in both without distinction – but that is really a mix of law and gospel.

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