The Mission Diocese held its 3-day summer festival on the premises of the Loimaa Evangelical College. This culminated in the solemn consecration of the new Bishop on Sunday 1 August 2021. Bishop Risto Soramies with assisting pastors and bishops consecrated the Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola (49) to serve as the new bishop of the Mission Diocese. The huge main tent and the surrounding smaller ones, as there were health and safety measures to be taken into consideration, held over 800 guests. The festive mass itself was celebrated in fine weather despite a very menacing weather forecast.
The brass ensemble, the choir and the singing congregation received the lengthy Procession of the Cross, in which the regional provosts before the bishop elect carried the symbols of the bishop’s office with the current Bishop, the Rev. Risto Soramies, closing up the procession. The Rev. Joel Kerosuo, who was serving his first day as diocesan dean, was an assisting liturgist. Bishop Risto Soramies, on his last day as Bishop of the Mission Diocese, preached the sermon. In his sermon he reminded the attending congregation of the importance of the calling each person had received from God.
The outgoing bishop counselled the bishop elect on how he does not have to invent anything original as the Gospel of Jesus Christ will always suffice, furthermore it will always be timely. The mission of the Bishop is to feed the flock with the Word of God and to make sure that no strange doctrines get in and tear it apart.
“Draw in from the abundance of grace for yourself and for your diocese. Grace increases when it is used. The Word of the forgiveness of sins will never grow old,” Bishop Soramies reminded the bishop elect.
At the onset of the consecration, the Rev. Dr. Samuli Siikavirta, the diocesan notary, read the bishop’s credentials, after which Bishop Risto Soramies asked the attending congregation: “Do you wish to receive Juhana Pohjola as your bishop and take him into your prayers.” The tent was filled with a strong and unwavering answer: “We do.”
The bishop elect was asked about his commitment to the faith of the Church and his readiness to suffer for the salvation of the flock if need be.
As the choir sang a hymn from the Pentecost Season, Juhana Pohjola received the symbols of the episcopal office. Bishop Soramies placed his pectoral on him, Bishop Thor Henrik With and Bishop Bengt Ådahl from the sister dioceses of Norway and Sweden assisted in clothing him in his robe, President Matthew Harrison of the Missouri Synod handed the crosier to him, and after the prayer of consecration Bishop Hanss Jensons of the Latvian Lutheran Church set the mitre on the new Bishop’s head.
The two pastors from the Mission Diocese to participate in the laying on of hands were the Rev. Mika Tervakangas, the youngest and the Rev. Sakari Korpinen the oldest pastor in the service of the Diocese.
With the Bible verse of Jesus “Care for my sheep” Bishop emeritus Soramies sent the freshly elected Bishop upon his mission. As the newly consecrated Bishop turned to face his congregation, the tent was filled with the resounding, joyous continuation of the hymn “Now we thank the good Lord…”
The first duty of the new Bishop was to serve the congregation with the gift of Holy Communion. The door of heaven was open to all to come and partake of Christ and receive the forgiveness of sins.
The divine service ended with a touching moment when Bishop Risto who had been shepherding the Mission Diocese for the past eight years laid down his crosier, kneeling in prayer. While he still continues to serve congregations, the responsibility of care for the Diocese remained at the Lord’s altar. Bishop Juhana Pohjola then took his place at the rear of the Recession of the Cross.
The consecratory service of the new bishop can be viewed from the YouTube-channel of the Diocese or directly from the link beneath.
Photos: Kari Puustinen