Led by the spirit and the Church: Finland’s licensed Lutheran lay preachers, c.1870–1923

Matleena Sopanen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

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This article examines the interplay between religious agency and institutional control. The Church Law of 1869 gave members of the Lutheran Church of Finland the right to apply to chapters for permission to preach. Men who passed the examinations became licensed lay preachers, who could take part in teaching Christianity and give sermons in church buildings. Applicants had varying backgrounds, skills and motivations. In order to avoid any disruption in church life, they had to be screened carefully and kept under clerical supervision. However, licensed lay preachers could also be of great help to the church. In a rapidly changing modern society with a growing population and a recurring lack of pastors, the church could not afford to disregard lay aid. The article shows how the Lutheran Church both encouraged and constrained the agency of the licensed lay preachers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-299
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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