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State church sees net loss of membership in 2019

Membership in Finland's Lutheran Evangelical Church fell by 56,000 in 2019.

Mies rukoilee kirkon alttarin edessä.
Image: Wasim Khuzam / Yle

Finland’s Lutheran Evangelical Church lost more members than it gained last year, according to the denomination’s research arm.

A survey by the Church Research Institute found that membership in the religion declined by 56,000, while 16,000 joined congregations in 2019.

In 2019 the majority of people leaving the church were in the 20–29-year-old age group, while most who joined were between 30 and 39 years old.

At the end of last year, 3.8 million people or just short of 69 percent of people in Finland were church members. One year before that, 70 percent of the population claimed the faith as their own.

The most common reasons for church membership are its actions and principles. The institute found that another fairly important reason was the opportunity to have church-sanctioned baptisms, weddings or funerals.

Three out of four church members said that the Christian tradition of church holidays was a major reason for belonging to the church.

While previous surveys revealed that in addition to traditional reasons, many wanted to be part of the church because of its charitable work, nowadays just half of respondents cited this as a reason for membership.

Last year about 28,300 children under the age of one were baptised in the Lutheran church, while nearly 44,000 parishioners passed away.

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