60 years old | “Cow nervousness helps”, Diocese Dean Reijo Liimatainen acknowledges the question about the difficulty of reforming the church

The parishes could be profiled, and this would make room for different communities, says Reijo Liimatainen, Dean of the Diocese of Helsinki.

Although the number of Finns in the church is declining slightly from year to year, the Lutheran Church still has an important place in Finnish society, says the Dean of the Diocese of Helsinki Reijo Liimatainen.

“People long to feel like they belong in something, that I’ve been seen and noticed. For us, the church is the interface with something bigger, spiritually, socially and physically. ”

Liimatainen’s view has weight. During his long career, he has seen the importance of ecclesiastical work in various positions in the Church. In the 1990s, he worked as a penitentiary and basic church, and from the turn of the millennium he served as pastor of Hakunila parish in Vantaa. He was elected to his current position in 2010.

As Diocesan Dean The work of Liimatainen is not only to support the bishop but also to lead and develop the activities of the diocese. We need to be able to create between different parties and passions, build collaboration and understand the big picture.

“When I once started as a parish priest, I worked in the group of auxiliary priests of the Diocese of Helsinki, where we spoke in favor of administrative transparency and equal treatment of people. I find that I point to and want to face now, as Dean, the same questions that I myself challenged decision-makers to answer then. Now I have to answer similar questions myself. ”

Practices are slowly changing. How easy is renewal in an organization like the church?

“Cow nervousness helps,” he acknowledges in good spirits.

Thence However, Liimatainen does not compromise on the need for the church to develop and critically examine its own activities.

“The Lutheran Church is facing challenges,” he admits.

“We need to be able to make big structural decisions, but now the church assembly is unable to do so because of the oversized qualified majority rule.”

Then a solution could be found for the congregations to be profiled and differentiated and to make room for the lives of different small communities, Liimatainen says.

He refers to the principle of subsidiarity. It says decisions should be made as close to the person as possible. Close to people, the church is at its strongest.

“The organization of the church is hierarchically constructed. However, the strength of the church is ordinary church life, where people are genuinely met. Joy and sorrow live together. ”

Regional Differentiation and combating the problems it brings is one of the key challenges that the church should be able to meet together with other actors, Liimatainen says.

“In the first weeks as a pastor, the concept of segregation became very familiar. In the Hakunila metropolitan area in eastern Vantaa, segregation was already visible at the beginning of the millennium. Such does not help the individual choices of a small actor but requires structures. And without the construction of a tram, eastern Vantaa will not be able to meet the challenges of segregation. ”

Despite his problems, Hakunila was the dream place to start parish work.

“There was an inner understanding here that things alone can’t get better.”

Defending the weaker and equality have been the guiding principle of Reijo Liimatainen’s life since his youth. It has been seen, for example, in how unwaveringly he has spoken out in favor of the consecration of those of the same sex.

Years as pastor, they became important in Liimatainen’s career.

“Until then, my own imaginary path had been that I would have become a lecturer in an ecclesiastical school, but the path turned to leadership.”

Education and influencing through education in its various forms have still played a central role in Liimatainen’s life. In fact, he is one of the first primary school students in Finland.

“I started my own school on the first day of September 1968. Hankasalmi was one of the 11 municipalities where the pilot primary school started.”

In addition to the patrol, the young schoolchildren were interested in history and social issues. These were all later combined through the study of theology.

“The first awakening is related to the military coup in Chile, where Salvador Allende was ousted. It was a huge experience of injustice. I could not accept and understand how people’s dreams and dreams are crushed by force. ”

Weaker advocacy and equality have been the guiding principle of Glued Life since those days. It has been seen, for example, in how unwaveringly he has spoken out in favor of the consecration of those of the same sex.

“In our diocese, the matter has already been resolved. There will be a consecrating priest for all the couples, a place where the wedding will be celebrated and all the support measures that belong to the parishioners who attended the penitentiary school, ”Liimatainen says.

“My triangle of values ​​is freedom, justice and solidarity. From the Old Testament prophets, widows, orphans, and strangers were the yardstick by which the righteousness of the ruler is judged. ”

Reijo Liimatainen

  • Born in 1961 in Hankasalmi. Lives in Vantaa.

  • Master of Theology 1986.

  • Dean of the Diocese of Helsinki 2010–. Pastor, Hakunila Parish 1999–2010. Parish Pastor, Hakunila Parish 1989–1999.

  • Lecturer vs., DIAK Järvenpää 1996–1997.

  • City of Vantaa, Multiculturalism Committee from 2012, Board of Education and Vocational Section 2009–2012.

  • Published articles and columns in various journals.

  • Engaged in property maintenance and dog walking.

  • The family includes a spouse and two adult children.

  • Turns 60 years on Friday, June 18th.



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