Helsinki, Finland, August 31, 2018
Big changes could be coming in the organization of the Finnish Orthodox Church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Church leadership is proposing to reduce the number of deaneries by two-thirds by joining several together.
There are currently 21 Orthodox deaneries in the country, and if the reform is implemented, from 2020 there will be only 7, reports yle.fi.
The Finnish Church uses the term “parish” to mean subdivisions of their three dioceses, that seem to equate to deaneries in other Churches. For example, the Diocese of Karelia has 80 churches and chapels spread throughout 12 parishes, according to Wikipedia.
Some of the planned new deaneries will occupy a huge territory. For example, the united parishes of Tampere, Jyväskylä, and Vaasa will cover 91 municipalities. The journey from Utsjoki to the largest city of the new parish of Oulu will be nearly 435 miles.
According to the proposal, only the largest deanery—that of Helsinki—will remain with its current borders. According to His Eminence Archbishop Leo, the ongoing migration of faithful to the south of the country has led to the need for restructuring. The reduction of the management apparatus should save money in the long term.
The Church does not intend to dismiss anyone, rather, individual positions will disappear as people retire. In addition, savings could also come from abandoning the premises that would be vacated by the reform.
The proposal is supported by 13 of the deaneries, where 72% of all parishioners live. The remaining 8 are against the union plan.
The Finnish Church attempted such reforms 5 years ago, though it failed at that time. The Church Council will vote on the matter in November. If the proposal is not accepted, the development of a new plan could again take several years.
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