On November 14, 2020, the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (Suomen evankelisluterilainen Lähetyshiippakunta – ELMDF) unanimously declared altar and pulpit fellowship with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). The decision came during the ELMDF’s annual Diocesan Assembly, held this year online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The LCMS for its part also expressed recognition of fellowship in a letter of greeting presented to the ELMDF gathering.
Bishop Risto Soramies of the ELMDF (in photo at left), who led the church’s dialogue with the LCMS, hailed the decision as a way of deepening connections between the two churches based on a common faith. “Now our parishioners can commune with each other, and our pastors can preach at each other’s services,” he noted. He also looked forward to closer cooperation on theological education and in the fields of mission. “It is encouraging for us to see how the Mission Diocese is recognized as a church and our work is valued,” he continued.
Fellowship discussions between the LCMS and the ELMDF first began in 2017. They conducted substantial conversations about a variety of matters before coming to agreement that they believe, teach, and confess the same doctrine, as it is revealed by the Word of God and contained in the Lutheran Confessions. As a result of those discussions, the LCMS’ Commission on Theology and Church Relations voted unanimously to recognize fellowship with the ELMDF, leading President Harrison to declare fellowship on behalf of the LCMS in his letter. In the LCMS, the president of synod is able to recognize fellowship immediately in situations like these, with a vote to endorse the decision to follow at the next synodical convention—in this case, in July 2021.
Abridged from source publication at https://ilc-online.org/…/finnish-lutherans-enter-into…/