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Chain of decision in the Church of Sweden

The leadership of the Church of Sweden rests upon co-operation between a democratic civil organisation (a specific Swedish feature is that this organisation is composed of representatives of the political parties) and the threefold Ministry consisting of bishops, priests and deacons. This special structure, involving co-operation between democratic self-government and the episcopal system, has long been called "the dual chain of responsibility". Today, the expression is often used to mean common or shared responsibility, thus emphasising the combination of popular self-government and Episcopal authority. At each level, two parallel structures, a democratic and an episcopal one, share responsibility.
For the church elections, representatives are elected at both the diocesan and national levels. Church elections take place every four years. Any member of the Church aged sixteen or more is eligible to vote. The groups responsible for the nomination of candidates at these church elections are made up mainly of the political parties, who draw up special lists of candidates for the elections. In addition, non-political groups have the opportunity of drawing up their own lists of candidates. The numbers of voters have, for a long time, been around 10%, but increased in the wake of the change in the relationship between church and state. The present electoral system – above all the role of the political parties – is, however, a subject for discussion.
The principal decision-making organ at the parish level is the parish synod. In each parish, there is a parish council. Its job is to look after the life of the parish and to be responsible, together with the vicar, in ensuring that the basic duties of the parish are properly discharged. The decision-making organ at the diocesan level is the diocesan synod. Every diocese must have a diocesan board which functions as administrative and executive organ of the diocesan synod, and a diocesan Chapter. The Church synod is the highest decision-making body of the Church of Sweden. It consists of 251 representatives who are directly elected by the members of the Church. Neither priests nor bishops are self-evident representatives. On the other hand, the bishops are obliged to be present at the synod. They have the right to table motions and may take part in deliberations, but they do not have the right to vote. The Church Board is the council of the Church of Sweden as religious community. It has the main responsibility for the work of the Church in the periods between synods.

D 9 March 2016    APer Pettersson

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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