Welcome to the Church of Sweden!
The Church of Sweden is a national church, open to everyone living in Sweden regardless of nationality. It is a place for church services, meetings and dialogue. The church is a place to celebrate the special occasions in life, but also has importance in filling our everyday needs for peace, reflection, and care. How the church serves as an institution has changed over the 1000 years since its inception, but the task has always been the same: to serve as a meeting place between people, and between people and God.
The church buildings, new and old, bear witness to the long historical presence of the Christian faith in our country. Today, the Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran church. Evangelical for its basis in the Gospel of the Bible: the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Lutheran because it is founded on the reform work of 16th century German priest, Martin Luther.
More than 7 million people living in our country belong to the Church of Sweden. Members are under no obligation to attend church on a regular basis or to be of a strong faith. Membership is an expression of a desire for fellowship with the church. The church is the place where people often turn at festive times of the year and for life's major events, occasions when, in happiness or in sorrow, we mark our fellowship with one another and with God. Baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals are occasions when many partake in the Church of Sweden's services. In addition to church services, there are also many other opportunities for people to share their joy, sorrow, faith and doubts with others.
The church service is the core of Church of Sweden vitality, its task being to create a meeting place between people and God. There are different types of church services apart from the main service held on Sunday mornings, including musical services, family services, and church services with a theme. Everyone is welcome to attend our services, including non-members. In the church service, participants hear readings from the Bible and receive help interpreting how they apply to us today. Celebrating communion during the service is a way of sharing the bread and wine symbolic of fellowship with Jesus Christ and other Christians across the world.
People enter Christian fellowship and the Church of Sweden through baptism. All newborn infants whose parent or parents belong to the Church of Sweden are invited to have their child baptized in their parish. Children of parents who are not members of the Church of Sweden may also be baptized. Baptism may also be performed later in life, e.g., in connection with confirmation or at an adult age. Parents may express the wish for their children to belong to the Church of Sweden while still awaiting baptism. Adults may also express their wish to belong to the Church of Sweden without having previously been baptized. Swedish citizenship does not imply automatic membership in the Church of Sweden, but a person who has been baptized in another Christian church need only express their wish to belong to the Church of Sweden to become a member.
Children and youth constitute a large and important part of the Church of Sweden. Many children meet in the church's drop-in preschools and other children's programs. When they become older, the confirmation program offers them the opportunity to contemplate and discuss major issues of life and to learn more about the Christian faith. Normally, youths are confirmed at the age of 14-15 years, but adults may also be confirmed.
Of all the couples in the country who marry, more than half choose to do so in the Church of Sweden. The wedding unites man and woman in marriage. In order to be married in the Church of Sweden, at least one of the spouses must be a member.
Those who belong to the Church of Sweden are entitled to a church funeral. A premise of the Church of Sweden is that a person who does not belong to the church does not want a church burial. Under special circumstances, however, a church funeral may be provided anyway. The Church of Sweden is responsible for funeral activities in most parts of the country. This does not mean that the Church of Sweden holds a funeral for everyone, but that it is responsible for providing access to premises and burial grounds for everyone, regardless of church membership. For people who belong to the church, funeral services are free of charge.
The Church of Sweden is an open, democratic national church where everyone is welcome to take part, to take initiative and to take responsibility. It is the members themselves that choose the leadership of the church, by way of church elections held every four years. Church of Sweden activities are nation-wide and primarily located to the approximately 2200 parishes that cover the entire country. Everyone who belongs to the Church of Sweden also belongs to the local parish where he/she resides.
Members of the Church of Sweden pay a church fee. The church fee finances about 80 percent of church activities. Approximately 40 percent goes to parish activities, e.g., costs for church services, church music, children and youth programs, the church's welfare work, and personnel costs. A quarter of the fee is used to pay for funeral activities and almost as much again goes to maintenance and operating costs for the church- and parish buildings. A small portion of the church fee goes to the diocese and to the Church of Sweden's national organization. For those who pay the church fee, the compulsory funeral fee is included (does not apply to residents of the City of Stockholm and Tran+ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Ëœs).
The Church of Sweden is a part of the worldwide church and has long and deep relations with other churches around the globe. Through the Church of Sweden Mission, Church of Sweden Aid and the Swedish Evangelical Mission Abroad, the Church of Sweden works in cooperation for peace, atonement, justice, and sustainable development. It does this through direct efforts and through its strive to be a critical voice in society. The Church of Sweden Abroad is established in more than 40 locations throughout the world and is there for all Swedes living or travelling abroad.
If you would like to contact the Church of Sweden or learn more about the activities in your parish, please contact the church. Telephone numbers to the parishes in your area are listed in the Pink Pages of your local telephone directory. You may also call the Church of Sweden's Information Service, tel. 018-169600.
Even there shall thy hand lead me,
and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me;
even the night shall be light about me.
Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee;
but the night shineth as the day:
the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
The Book of Psalms, Psalm 139