The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland's General Synod has approved, by a vote of 78-30, the creation of a prayer for registered same-sex partnerships.
"After years of debate, Finland's state church took a step towards accepting gay relationships with an announcement Friday it would create a "prayer moment" for registered partnerships. 'The proposal offers a positive opportunity to minister to church members who are sexual minorities,' the General Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church's highest administrative body, said in a statement. The General Synod must now draw up a formula for a prayer that walks a fine doctrinal line, observers said. Lutheran ministers will have the choice of performing the prayer with gay couples in a church, but it will not actually constitute a church's blessing of the union itself, synod spokesman Marko Kailasmaa told AFP…The vote can be seen as a concession of sorts to a groundswell of popular support within the church community for Christian gays, lesbians and bisexuals. 'A prayer moment is part of pastoral care … It's not an official sacrament, but you can't say that a prayer is less important,' Kailasmaa said."
In October, the Church reportedly saw an exodus of tens of thousands of people over remarks it made at a gay rights panel on the Finnish Broadcasting Company.
In related news, here's Finland's "It Gets Better" video, if you missed it.