Foto: Maria Svensk
The Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran church with 6,4 million members (almost 70 per cent of the population). There are 3500 churches in Sweden, and 13 dioceses.
Priests elect bishop
Each diocese is led by a bishop, whose tasks include ordaining the candidates to the priesthood and diaconate, and holding visitations regularly in every parish. The bishop is elected by the priests of the diocese together with an equal number of lay delegates. He/she is assisted by the chapter (domkapitlet) and by a diocesan synod (stiftsstyrelse).
The chapter, consisting of clergy and laity, oversees the parishes and clergy, ensuring that they keep to the doctrine and practice of the Church of Sweden; since there are no suffragan bishops or archdeacons, the dean of the cathedral is the bishop's deputy in the diocese.
In every parish (approximately 2 225), there is a Parish council (kyrkoråd), that together with the rector (kyrkoherde) is responsible for the liturgy, and for the educational, social and evangelistic work.
Every fourth year elections are held for all the decision-making bodies within the church, at parish, diocese and national level. Every member of the Church of Sweden over the age of 16 is entitled to vote. To be a candidate for office one has to be a member, baptised and at least 18.
There are employed persons in every parish: a priest, a musician and often also a deacon. In the smaller, often rural, settings these officers are responsible for services and pastoral care in several parishes. Others can be employed according to the needs of the parish, such as church workers, teachers, virgers, sextons, office personnel, children and youth leaders, cleaners etc.
On the national level the church is led by the Archbishop of Uppsala, who represents the Church of Sweden in international and ecumenical matters and speaks for the Bishops' Meeting, of all bishops. But the decision-making body for the Church of Sweden is the Church Assembly (Kyrkomötet); it consists of 251 members, meeting twice annually and decides all matters concerning the regulation of church life (kyrkoordning). The Church Assembly elects the Central Board.
Close relationships all over the world
The Church of Sweden is part of the global fellowship of churches, with close relationships to other churches around the world. It’s active in the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the Conference of European Churches and the Christian Council of Sweden. As one of the churches and organizations in the ACT International network, we play an active role in disaster relief.
All dioceses enjoy close relationships with partner-dioceses all over the world. The Church of Sweden also provides Swedish-speaking-fellowships in 45 locations all over the world.