The word bishop is derived from the Greek word episkopos, which means minder. Originally, the bishop was the head of a local congregation, and later a larger ecclesiastical area called a diocese. The bishop’s task is to nurture the Church’s unity and promote the fulfilment of its mission in his or her diocese.
There are nine dioceses in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Each bishop leads the administration and work of his or her diocese and oversees its parishes and clergy.
In particular the bishop supervises the proclamation of the word and the administration of the sacraments. He or she ordains priests and deacons and commissions lay readers and deaconesses. The bishop undertakes visitations of the parishes in his or her diocese, during which he or she, among other things, consults with elected representatives and workers about the work and plans of the parish.
The Archbishop of Turku and Finland (Greek: arkhos, head) is the ‘first among equals’ of the bishops. He or she serves as the chair of the Church’s central bodies such as the General Synod, the National Church Council and the Bishops’ Conference. The Archbishop represents the Church at home and abroad and is responsible for the Church’s ecumenical and foreign relations. However, he or she is not the other bishops’ superior and has no authority over other dioceses.
Locally, episcopal responsibilities and the bishop’s duties in the Archdiocese are divided between two bishops, the Archbishop and the Bishop of the Archdiocese of Turku. The Archbishop’s responsibilities include the Turku deanery, in which there are 9 parishes. The other 42 parishes are the primary responsibility of the Bishop of the Archdiocese of Turku. He or she also leads the Diocesan Chapter and its work.