Prayers for partnerships: Reactions in southern Finland

Last year, the General Synod of the ELCF decided to allow prayers for couples in registered partnerships (i.e. same-sex couples) to be performed, as long as these events are clearly distiguishable from marriages. In February, the bishops, as requested, gave instructions on how these events should be performed in practise.

This has given rise to strong feelings in different parishes around the country.
In Huittinen, Sinikka Ritakallio, a member of the Church Council, wants the parish to refuse to perform such prayer meetings altogether. This is not, however, in the power of the Church Council to decide. The bishops have given their instructions, and they, not the Church Council, are the foremen of the pastors. The Church Council can decide not to allow these prayers to be performed in the church building, but that's it.
In Nurmijärvi, the Church Council has, slightly surprisingly, reached a compromise that allows same-sex couples to be prayed for in the chapel, but not in the main church. It is said that this practise would show that the church doesn't equate same-sex partnerships with heterosexual marriages. I agree that the idea is discriminatory, but isn't the chapel a consecrated building just as much as the church? Wherein lies the logic?
In my own parish in Porvoo, we have a preliminary order of service for the event that it would be needed. I worked it out with the clear intent to balance between the needs of the parishioners and the instructions of the bishops, and I think I succeeded. At least, my colleagues approved. The other day, I was accosted by a man in the street, who talked a lot about how God does not bless sin. He never specified, but I assume that it was in context with this question, since both the local paper Borgåbladet and the church newspaper Kyrkpressen interviewed me about it the week before. I didn't rebut, for he was so elliptical in his statements that I easily agreed: God does indeed not condone sin. Homosexuality, however, is not a sin, of course.

Huittisissa yritetään estää homoparien puolesta rukoilu (Turun Sanomat 25.2.11)
TS: Huittisissa halutaan estää rukous homoparien puolesta (Kotimaa 26.2.11)
Domkyrkoförsamlingen först med förbönsformulär (Kyrkpressen 20.7.11)
Rukoukset homosuhteiden puolesta kappeleissa (Nurmijärven Uutiset 27.7.11)
Nurmijärvellä parisuhderukoukset kappeliin (Kotimaa 29.7.11)

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