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Principal religions and denominations

The Church of Sweden

The Church of Sweden (Swedish: Svenska kyrkan) is by far the largest faith community in Sweden. Despite a significant yearly loss of members (about 1% annually), it still has 64,6% or 6 292 264 (...)

The Church of Sweden (Swedish: Svenska kyrkan) is by far the largest faith community in Sweden. Despite a significant yearly loss of members (about 1% annually), it still has 64,6% or 6 292 264 baptized members (2014) and is thereby the largest Lutheran church in the world (although, added together, the member churches of the Evangelical Church in Germany are 10 million Lutherans). Until 2000, the Church of Sweden held the position of state church. Statistics from 2014 show that 46% of all children born in Sweden were baptized in the Church of Sweden, 29% of all 15-year olds participated in the Church’s confirmation education program, 33% of all marriages took place in the Church of Sweden and 76% of all dead were buried within the Church of Sweden setting (Church of Sweden statistics, 2014).
The Church of Sweden is organized by The Church of Sweden Act in the following manner (SFS 1998:1591): it is an Evangelical Lutheran Faith Community manifested in parishes and dioceses and a national administration. It is democratically organized so that each church member has a vote in the election of local, as well as national, decision bodies. Its local organization covers geographically the whole Swedish territory.

D 12 February 2016    APer Pettersson

The organisation of the Church of Sweden

The country-wide church organisation originated in the Middle Ages and is geographically divided into 2 219 parishes, 1 025 pastorates (A pastorate is the area served by the vicar and can consist (...)

The country-wide church organisation originated in the Middle Ages and is geographically divided into 2 219 parishes, 1 025 pastorates (A pastorate is the area served by the vicar and can consist of one or more parishes. In addition to the territorial parishes there are non-territorial parishes which constitutes pastorates.), 152 deaneries (The diocese is divided into deaneries, consisting of several pastorates and forming the area served by a rural dean) and 13 dioceses (Church of Sweden Calendar 2003). The task of the diocese is to advise and support the parishes, and to ensure that the work is carried out in accordance with the Church ordinance. It is also responsible for organising the further education of diocesan employees. It is also the diocese which administers the land, forests and funds of the Church of Sweden. Certain questions, which are common to the Church of Sweden as a whole, are dealt with at a national level. Examples are church educational courses, ecumenical relations, the co-ordination of international work, information work, research and cultural issues. Moreover, the national level functions as the voice of the church in public debate, both in Sweden and abroad.

D 9 March 2016    APer Pettersson

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 (...)

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

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