The Diocesan Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF, Mission Diocese) has on 23 January 2021 elected Diocesan Dean Juhana Pohjola as the next Bishop of the Mission Diocese. The ordained and two lay delegates from each congregation gave Pohjola 111 votes (90.2 %) through advance voting, whilst the other candidate Esko Murto received 12 votes. 95 % of the delegates voted in the election.

– I wish to express my gratitude for the great confidence you have shown in me by giving me such strong support and by electing me for this important and demanding task. I feel great weakness faced with such a great task and calling but I know that the matter has been discussed in the congregations and that many prayers and intercessions have been said for the matter, which encourages me to look forward from this, newly elected Pohjola commented in his thank you speech.

Dean Pohjola thanked his predecessors for the example they had set. He especially remembered Bishop Matti Väisänen’s legendary phrase at his consecration service concerning the episcopal pectoral cross.

– It is carried not on one’s stomach but on one’s heart. God willing, I also wish to be such a Bishop who will carry Christ’s sign of the cross on my heart and who will preach the Word of Life that alone makes us alive and that alone builds up the Church. For ultimately, we all are and our Church is upon the heart of our heavenly Father. In this regard, we have a massive, great common task in our dear fatherland and also on the mission field.

Bishop Risto Soramies’ characterisation of himself as ‘the world’s most wretched prayer’ spurred Pohjola to ponder on the meaning of intercession.

– The Apostle Paul, in nearly every one of his letters, asks the Church over and over again to pray for him and his coworkers. I think that if I am to be consecrated as Bishop of the Mission Diocese in August, I will be a Bishop who will need the most intercessions in the world.

Third Bishop in the History of the Luther Foundation, Second in the Mission Diocese

Rev Dr Pohjola will succeed Risto Soramies (as Bishop from 2013 to 2021) as the second Bishop of the Mission Diocese. Matti Väisänen served as the first Finnish Bishop of the Mission Province of Sweden and Finland from 2010 until the foundation of the independent Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland in 2013.

– The pastoral college and the delegates of congregations elected Rev Dr Juhana Pohjola as Bishop of the our Church body. The ELMDF had the good fortune and the blessing of being able to choose from two learned and proven pastors. The pastoral gifts and tested courage of Dean Pohjola will certainly serve our congregations well. It is a blessing and a reason to be thankful to God for the retiring bishop to see a good man succeeding him in the office. May God grant Dean Pohjola all the grace and stamina that he will need as the shepherd of the shepherds and of the congregations, Bishop Soramies commented.

Juhana Pohjola (born 1972) currently serves as Diocesan Dean of the Mission Diocese (2013 to present) and as Dean of its supporting trust, The Luther Foundation Finland (2000 to 2011, 2012 to present). Previously, he has served as Head Pastor of St Mark’s Lutheran Church, Helsinki (2000 to 2010) and been a Visiting Scholar at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St Catharines, Canada (2011 to 2012). He holds the degrees of MTh (University of Helsinki, 1997), STM (Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN, USA, 1998) and ThD (University of Helsinki, 2014). In his doctoral dissertation, he studied the view the Office of the Ministry and ordination in Finnish ordination rites. He is married, father of four children, and enjoys playing tennis and reading.

Dean Pohjola was ordained in the Diocese of Oulu (The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, ELCF) in 1999 to serve the newly founded Luther Foundation Finland (LFF) in building independent confessional Lutheran communities within the ELCF. After breaking fellowship with the ELCF Bishop of Helsinki for doctrinal differences in 2004, the LFF was shunned by the ELCF. This led to a great deal of unexpected publicity and a rapid growth in the work of the LFF under Pohjola’s leadership. Pohjola was defrocked by the ELCF in 2014 for serving the Mission Diocese that was seen as a separate church body. In 2020, Dean Pohjola was interrogated by the police for a booklet written by MP Päivi Räsänen and published by the LFF in 2004 on the biblical view on creation and sexuality, citing the ethnic agitation law of 2011. The ongoing case concerns the freedom of religion and expression and has attracted worldwide attention.

Dean Pohjola’s Consecration into the Episcopal Office is currently planned to take place at the Mission Diocese Summer Festival in Loimaa, Finland, on 1 August 2021.

Prayer for the Bishop Elect

Churches are exhorted to join us in the following prayer:

Almighty and merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, You have given Your Church the Holy and Apostolic Office through which You shepherd us by Your Word and Sacraments, protect us from error and and keep us steadfast on the way of eternal life. We thank You that You have through Your Holy Spirit led Your Church to elect Juhana Pohjola as our future Bishop. We pray You: equip him for this noble Office of Overseer with faithfulness and wisdom for the benefit of Your Church. Keep us united in in the truth and love of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ, our Lord and heavenly High Priest, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.


The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland is a confessional Lutheran church with ca. 40 congregations and 2,200 members in Finland. The ELMDF is a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) and is in full fellowship with the Mission Province in Sweden, The Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Norway, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England, The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (Germany), Lutheran Church—Canada and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (USA). The vision of the Mission Diocese is to continue to live out that biblical, Lutheran faith and ecclesiastical life which, in many places and in many ways, have been broken.

Press Release 16 November 2020

The Mission Diocese Declares Church Fellowship with the Missouri Synod

The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland held its annual Diocesan Assembly at the Koinonia Centre in Helsinki on 14 November 2020. The Diocesan Assembly is the supreme decision-making body in the Mission Diocese. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, representatives from 38 congregations and their head pastors participated in the meeting online.

In addition to statutory matters, the declaration of church fellowship with The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) was on the agenda. The Missouri Synod is a confessional Lutheran church body in the United States of America with ca. two million members.

The Diocesan Assembly unanimously accepted the recognition of full communion with the LCMS.

In his letter addressed to the Diocesan Assembly, Missouri Synod President Matthew Harrison wrote that he rejoiced in being authorised to declare the recognition of altar and pulpit fellowship with the Mission Diocese.

– Your hospitality, service to Christ, and commitment to Scripture and to the Lutheran Confessions in the face of opposition, remain an example and encouragement to me and to our entire church. It is with special joy and thanksgiving that I write on behalf of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod humbly to extend our hand of fellowship to the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland.

– We look forward to a strong relationship based upon our common confession of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, wrote President Harrison in his letter.

Risto Soramies, Bishop of the Mission Diocese, who led the discussions of church fellowship with the LCMS, told the Assembly that full communion does not mean the renunciation of our independence or spiritual tradition but altar and pulpit fellowship on the basis of a common faith.

– Now our congregants may receive Holy Communion with each other and our pastors may preach at one another’s Divine Services. Our co-operation will certainly deepen in theological education and in the mission field – the Missouri Synod is, after all, a strong global operator. It is encouraging for us to see how the Mission Diocese is being recognised as a church body and how our work is being appreciated, Bishop Soramies sheds light on the significance of the decision.

Further information:

Secretariate of the Mission Diocese
Diocesan Secretary Mr. Sami Niemi
[email protected]
tel. +358 (0)50 5225 855

Anssi Simojoki 7.9.1944 – 6.7.2020

Program of the funeral service and reception is located here

In loving memory of Dr Anssi Simojoki

Please join us for a memorial service celebrating the life of Dr Anssi Simojoki on Friday 31st July at 1 pm (UTC+3) at the new church in Uusikaupunki, Finland. The funeral will be streamed live on the Mission Diocese Youtube-channel https://www.youtube.com/Lähetyshiippakunta-lhpk or directly at https://youtu.be/U2ZgyMwrRf0

Instead of flowers, we ask that our father would be commemorated by supporting the reprint of Martin Luther’s On Christian Freedom in Swahili through Lutheran Heritage Foundation. Anssi was part of the original translation team and when he visited Kenya last October and found out the book was out of print, he strongly suggested that it would be reprinted. The book will be distributed all over East Africa.

You can support the reprint with the following information:
Receiver: Suomen luterilainen lähetystuki
Account: FI57 5410 0220 3884 28
Reference: 3340
You can also donate online www.sllt.fi/lahjoita. The support will be wired in full amount to Lutheran Heritage Foundation who will oversee the printing, distribution and introduction of the book.

For USA (if you whish to donate straight to LHF)
Go to https://www.lhfmissions.org/support/donate-now/
Set Gift amount
Set destination to Kenya
Select “This gift is in honor, memory, or support of someone” and set to “In memory of”
Type “Anssi Simojoki”
Give payment details and click “Donate”
Guide

”I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.” Ps 118:17

You are all sincerely welcome!

Marja Simojoki
Martti and Hanna-Kaisa Simojoki
Tapani and Sarah Simojoki
Anna and Jussi-Pekka Rauha
Helena and Paul Simons
Tuomo and Leena Simojoki
Lassi and Suvi-Tuuli Simojoki

Siunaustilaisuuden ja muistojuhlan ohjelma – Program of the funeral service and reception

Yksityiskohtainen ohjelma pdf-tiedostona: Anssi Simojoen siunaustilaisuus ja muistojuhla
Detailed program in english as a pdf-file: Anssi Simojoki Funeral service and reception

Siunaustilaisuus – Funeral Service

Alkumusiikkia – Processional music
Ylösveisuu – Luterilaisia Virsiä 894 – Processional hymn – Up, up, my soul, and sing
Alkuvirsi – Vanha Suomalainen Virsikirja 410 – Hymn – In heavn’ above
Johdanto – Introduction
Rippi – Confession and Absolution
Rippisaarna – Confessional address
Yksinlaulu – Song
Epistola (1 Kor. 15:50–58) – Epistle (1 Cor. 15:50–58)
Psalmi (Ps. 118:15-25) – Psalm (Ps. 118:15-25)
Evankeliumi (Joh. 11:20–26) – Gospel (John 11:20–26)
Saarna – Sermon
Ruumissaarna – Funeral Sermon
Uskontunnustus – Apostle’s creed
Omaiset laskevat kukkalaitteen – The family place a bouquet by the casket
Ruumiinsiunaus – Committal
Rukous – Prayers
Isä meidän -rukous – The Lord’s Prayer
Herran siunaus – Benediction
Loppuvirsi – Virsikirja 320 – Hymn–Te Deum
Loppumusiikkia – Recessional music

Muistotilaisuus

Virsi – Virsikirja 270 – Hymn – I will sing my Maker’s praises
Puhe – Speech 
Musiikkiesitys – Musical performance
Puhe – Speech
Lauluesitys  –  Song performance
Puhe – Speech
Virsi – Luterilaisia Virsiä 897 – Hymn – With my own eyes in time I shall
Puhe – Speech
Loppuvirsi – Achrenius 155 – Hymn – God’s goodness so amazing

Muistotilaisuus päättyy – End of the reception.
Suora lähetys päättyy – Live Stream ends

Siirtyminen uudenkaupungin hautausmaalle – The funeral procession proceeds to the Uusikaupunki cemetery for the burial.

Rev Dr Juhana Pohjola, Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, was summoned to be interrogated at the Helsinki Police Department on 11 February 2020, suspected of ‘ethnic agitation.’[1]

The police interrogation lasted for five hours. The interrogation focused on the facts surrounding the publication and distribution of the booklet written by Päivi Räsänen, Member of the Finnish Parliament and former Minister of the Interior, entitled Male and female He created them – Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian concept of humanity. Furthermore, the interrogation carefully went over those sections of the booklet that the Finnish Prosecutor General had taken to be defamatory and insulting to homosexuals.

“At the tactful and thorough interrogation, I said that I am, as the editor-in-chief, responsible for the publication and distribution of the booklet. I denied, however, being guilty of the crime of ethnic agitation. In my view, Mrs Räsänen’s text is not defamatory or insulting to homosexuals. In my answers, I showed that the booklet teaches in line with Christian anthropology that every person is precious as [being created in] the image of God, regardless of sexual orientation. This does not mean, however, that people are not responsible before God for their way of life or moral choices. The homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God’s order of creation and a transgression against His will. If one is not allowed to teach this publicly, the message of sin and grace will be left without a foundation, and freedom of religion will decline,” Pohjola says.

The preliminary investigation will now go on and the interrogation protocol will be passed on to the Prosecutor. Dean Pohjola will still have the opportunity to give a final statement before the Prosecutor decides whether to prosecute and bring the charge to the District Court, or not to prosecute.

This matter has been in Mission Diocese news earlier:

Dean of Diocese to Preliminary Investigation by Police

Booklet: Male and female He created them – Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian concept of humanity  (The booklet may be read in English via this link – as well as the news item of the announcement of this investigation by the Prosecutor General of Finland. It is also available in Swedish here.)

In English in other media:

Finnish Lutherans under investigation for upholding biblical teachings on sexuality (International Lutheran Council, 05/12/2019)

Finnish police investigate Lutheran cleric for publishing book calling homosexuality a ‘disorder’ (LifeSiteNews, 05/02/2020)

Criminalizing Christian Teachings about Sex (blog by Gene Veith, Patheos, 11/02/2020)

Leader of evangelical Lutheran churches investigated for distribution of booklet on homosexuality (Evangelical Focus, 12/02/2020)

Christians Face LGBT Persecution in Finland (Fulcrum7, 13/02/2020)

Lutheran Leader Interrogated by Finnish Police Over Role in Distribution of ‘Male and Female He Created Them’ Booklet (Christian News, 13/02/2020)

ILC concerned over investigation of Finnish Lutherans, urges prayer (International Lutheran Council, 14/02/2020)

Finnish Evangelical pastor, MP under investigation over anti-LGBTQ booklet (Jerusalem Post, 19/02/2020)

[1] The Criminal Code of Finland (1889/39 and 2011/511), Chapter 11, Section 10 defines ethnic agitation as follows: “A person who makes available to the public or otherwise spreads among the public or keeps available for the public information, an expression of opinion or another message where a certain group is threatened, defamed or insulted on the basis of its race, skin colour, birth status, national or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability or a comparable basis, shall be sentenced for ethnic agitation to a fine or to imprisonment for at most two years.” (finlex.fi, translation from Wikipedia)