The Mission Diocese is an independent ecclesial structure under episcopal oversight, formed by congregations. It is part of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” confessed in the Creeds. As such, the responsibilities and promises God gives in His word apply to the Diocese, and it is truly a church in accordance with the definition of the Augsburg Confession, Article VII, on account, and by the power, of the means of grace administered within it.
The Mission Diocese was born within the ELCF, and it continues in the Lutheran faith and congregational life that has prevailed in Finland since the 16th century, without being part of the administrative structures of the ELCF.
The Mission Diocese is part of the Nordic and world-wide community of confessional Lutherans, and on that basis it makes connections with all who hold to the same confession, both in Finland and abroad. The Mission Diocese works together in many ways with different Lutheran churches and movements overseas, such as The Mission Province in Sweden (Missionsprovinsen i Sverige) and The Evangelical Lutheran Diocese in Norway (Det evangelisk-lutherske stift i Norge).
As the name indicates, The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland builds its teaching and its activity wholly on the foundation of the Lutheran heritage of faith. The Mission Diocese confesses the biblical faith and doctrine that is grounded in the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and which is proclaimed in the Lutheran Book of Concord (Liber Concordiae, 1580). The Mission Diocese holds as its highest norm and rule the principle that all doctrine, practice and life must be examined, carried out and directed on the basis of God’s word.
The aim of the Mission Diocese is to nourish hearers with the proclamation of the Gospel, to deepen the knowledge of the Christian faith, and to revitalise and support the devotional life of the home through hymns and prayers.
The basis of the activity of the Mission Diocese are its member congregations. The pastors of the congregations and elected lay delegates together form the Diocesan Assembly. The Diocesan Council, elected by the Diocesan Assembly, plans and executes the administration of the Diocese and the practical matters of its work.
The Bishop bears pastoral responsibility for spiritual and theological matters in the Diocese. The Bishop’s task is to be the overseer of the congregations and the clergy. He is assisted in this work of oversight with a Consistory, consisting of six members. The Consistory is responsible for such tasks as the examination of candidates for ordination, and the reconciliation of conflicts in the congregations. In administrative matters in particular, the Bishop is supported by the Dean of the Diocese. The Bishop and the pastors together form the College of Pastors.
The pastors and congregations of the Diocese are served in matters of administration, communication and various other tasks by the Diocesan Office. The work of the Office is directed by the Dean.
The basis of the work of the Mission Diocese are its member congregations. The congregations share the one Lutheran faith. They gather regularly in liturgical worship around the Word and the Sacraments. Each congregation has its own called pastor. To a large extent, their practical life rests on the work of lay volunteers.
The congregations are formed in such a way that they have a name, a membership and a constitution. Whereas the ELCF has a strict parochial form of membership, membership of our congregations is elective and personal, such that membership is based on personal choice rather than a member’s geographical place of abode. Both those who are members of the ELCF and those who are not may be members of the congregations.
The supporting organisations are independent associations or foundations, which function as employers for congregational employees and are responsible for the financial administration of the congregations.
The work of the Mission Diocese is based on voluntary support. Unlike the established church and its officially recognised service organisations, it does not receive support for its work from the State or the ELCF. The work of the Diocese is made possible through the supporting organisations of the congregations by means of offerings and voluntary donations.