Congratulatory speech of Bishop Seppo Häkkinen of the Diocese of Mikkeli, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, February 9, 2020:
Dear Bishop Ivan, dear Brother in Christ,
You received a great gift of God when you were ordained as the Bishop of The Church of Ingria today. At the same time, God gave you an important task to serve the Church of Christ at all times and in all places. Since the earliest days of the Christian Church, among the many duties of a bishop, two duties have stood out as playing a special role. The bishop is an overseer whose spiritual duties have always included protecting the apostolic faith and the unity of the church.
We only find the apostolic faith where Christ is preached according to the Bible and the confession of the Early Church. The Church lives as it constantly keeps the apostolic inheritance, the apostolic message. Which makes it clear what the task of the church is: it’s to proclaim the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church is called to remain faithful to the apostolic testimony of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord. You as a bishop must guard this faith. And we must support and strengthen each other in that.
Beside the keeping of the apostolic teaching, a most important task of the bishop is to keep the unity of the church. This concerns the unity within his own church, the unity among the churches within his country, and the unity with churches abroad. The Church of Ingria and The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland are in a close relationship at least for historical reasons. The relations between our churches are strong on all levels: personal relationships, official agreements on cooperation, regular talks.
Unity will not be kept by itself. It needs to be taken care of. Therefore, be a bridge-builder even when everybody around, on the contrary, builds walls and barriers. Preservation of the unity between our churches is our shared duty together. This way we will do the will of our Lord: “I … pray … that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21, NKJV)
On behalf of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, I congratulate you on your ordination into the office of bishop and wish you God’s richest blessings! Also, I bring cordial greetings from Archbishop Tapio Luoma. As a gift from our church, we have wired an amount of money to buy an electronic keyboard for diaconal work in The Church of Ingria. We were told this instrument was needed in order to celebrate worship services in old people’s homes. Also, as a gift from the Diocese of Mikkeli, I have brought a glass dish which depicts Archangel Michael and a dove with an olive branch in its beak. This is a reminder that you will not be relying on your own strength and your own wisdom in your ministry. You will be supported by prayers and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
May the Most Good God bless you Bishop Ivan, your loved ones, and The Church of Ingria!”