to Bishop David's blog. Here you can find news, information, articles and pictures about the Church of England Diocese in Europe. We have over 300 congregations or worship centres serving Anglican and (mostly) English-speaking people in Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Russia and some central Asian countries.

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Thursday, 3 June 2010

Finland elects its first woman bishop

Today the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has elected its first woman bishop. The Revd Irja Askola is to be the new bishop of Helsinki in succession to the Rt Revd Dr Eero Huovinen who is retiring at the beginning of September, having been in post since 1991.

Bishop-elect Askola won out over her rival candidate, Helsinki Cathedral Dean Matti Poutiainen. The voting was close, 591 to 567. The consecration will take place in Helsinki Cathedral on Sunday 12 September.

Pastor Askola was ordained in 1988. She has extensive ecumenical experience having worked for 8 years at the Conference of European Churches, based in Geneva. She is presently the theological advisor to Bishop Mikko Heikka of Espoo.

About 4.3 million people, over 80% of the population of the country, are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. There are 9 dioceses, 8 are geographical and the 9th non-geographical, serving the Swedish speaking minority in the country. 38% of the priests are women.

The Church of England is in communion with the Church of Finland through the Porvoo Agreement. Our congregation of St Nicholas in Helsinki enjoys close cooperation with the Diocese of Helsinki and receives support in many ways from the sister Church. St Nicholas' Chaplaincy is served by Fr Rupert Moreton, chaplain, and the Revd Deacon Tuomas Mäkipää, assistant curate. (I will be ordaining Tuomas to the priesthood on 3 July, in Crete).

The English language website of the Church of Finland is here. The Anglican Church of Finland has a website here.

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