Church of Finland (ELCF)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (Suomen evankelis-luterilainen kirkko in Finnish) has more than 4,200,000 members living in the country (nearly eighty percent of the population of Finland). The church has more than four hundred parishes (congregations) grouped into nine dioceses. Each diocese is overseen by a bishop.
On the national level, the highest decision-making body is the General Synod (kirkolliskokous) which usually meets twice a year in Turku. Offices for central administration (kirkkohallitus) are located in Katajanokka in Helsinki. Extensive information about the church is available on the ELCF English-language website evl.fi/english.
An ELCF congregation is made up of church members who reside within the geographical limits of their parish. When a church member moves to live in the area of another parish, he/she automatically becomes a member of the Lutheran congregation in the new location. All taxpayers who are church members pay ecclesiastical tax (about 1 or 2 percent of their taxable income, depending on the parish) that makes up most of the income of ELCF.
There is freedom of religion in Finland, so any adult member can choose to give up church membership. On the other hand, thousands of people join the church every year. It is required of all church members that they have been baptized either as infants or later in life in ELCF or some other Christian fellowship. More information is on the page ”Church membership and confirmation.”
ELCF is a full member of several international church bodies including the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the World Council of Churches (WCC, abbreviated KMN in Finnish).