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Half of Lutheran parishes in Finland report financial loss

Decreasing membership is the main reason behind the growing financial challenges facing the Lutheran Evangelical church.

Valkoinen risti kirkon katolla sinitaivasta vasten
Decreasing membership is causing financial challenges for the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Finland. Image: AOP

An increasing number of Lutheran Evangelical parishes in Finland are reporting financial losses, according to an article by the Uutissuomalainen newspaper group. Last year, every second parish in the country reported a negative financial result, compared with just one-third of parishes in 2015.

The primary reason for the financial challenges is the decreasing number of members, as 70 percent of the church's income is generated by member-paid church taxes.

However, the combined results of each of the parishes show a net gain for the last financial year, with the balance sheet recording an overall surplus of over 700,000 euros.

Total income was almost 1.1 billion euros, but if the parishes of Helsinki were removed from the tally the income accrued would amount to only 13.7 million euros.

"This shows the polarisation effect, where urban areas are growing and the rest of Finland is waning," said Pasi Perander, Chief Financial Officer of the Church Board.

At the beginning of 2019, 69.7 percent of Finns belonged to the Lutheran Evangelical Church, which is a significant drop from the 85 percent of Finns who were members of the church in 2000.

There are two main reasons for the reduction in membership; fewer parents choose to baptise their children into the faith, and more people are leaving the church than joining it.

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