In June 2021, the Central Board of the Church of Sweden agreed on eight objectives linked to the Church of Sweden’s apology to the Sami. The decision entails eight commitments as objectives and SEK 40 million in funding for the work over ten years. It meant that an action plan for continuing to work to meet the Church of Sweden’s commitments for the 2022–2031 period will be developed in close dialogue with the Sami Council and the dioceses.
The purpose of the commitments is to set objectives for further reconciliation work. The Church of Sweden is pushing ahead by creating structures for the work within the Church in dialogue with Sami representatives. There is a need in this work to build longterm trust and confidence and to ensure transparency and participation in the remainder of the joint process.
The work on Sami issues in the Church of Sweden will be developed in accordance with these eight overall objectives. A brief description of what this may involve is provided under each objective. Actions under each commitment are detailed in the action plan.
1. Preach the Gospel in the Sami languages and in the Sami cultural context, with respect for the Sami spiritual and ecclesiastical tradition
Being able to read or hear the Gospel in one’s own emotional language contributes to a more direct form of address and to a sense of belonging. The Sami languages need to be used and their profile raised in worship activities and in the activities of the parish. This includes Bible texts and hymns being made available in Sami. Texts in Sami in the Book of Worship can facilitate worship in Sami. Sami symbolism, Sami ecclesiastical traditions and contextual interpretation of texts help increase inclusion and make the Gospel accessible in a culturally relevant way.
2. Make Sami spirituality, theology and ecclesiastical tradition visible within the Church of Sweden
The basic mission of the parish needs to be implemented in a way that promotes the inclusion and raises the profile of the Sami. Church documents need to be designed with respect for spiritual and ecclesiastical Sami traditions so that people can affirm their Sami identity. Such traditions need to be highlighted and respected within the Church of Sweden.
3. Help strengthen and revitalise the Sami languages in the activities of the Church of Sweden
By raising the profile of Sami languages and increasing their use in parish activities, the Church of Sweden can help strengthen them. This is particularly important in activities aimed at children.
4. Increase knowledge and awareness of the Church’s historical relations with and abuse against the Sami and the consequences of these
The material produced in the Church’s survey work needs to be disseminated so that knowledge of the Church’s historical actions and complicity in abuse against the Sami and the consequences of this is expanded in the Church of Sweden. Greater knowledge can contribute to reflection on and increased understanding of why the Church of Sweden is working on reconciliation in relation to the Sami. It can also help raise awareness among elected representatives, employees and parishioners about issues related to the Sami and their living conditions and the Church’s responsibility to contribute to redress and reconciliation.
5. Expand knowledge of and respect for the principles of indigenous rights within the Church of Sweden and in society
Indigenous rights are part of human rights. Respect for and observance of indigenous rights are essential for a socially sustainable society. The principles of indigenous rights affect a wide range of areas in society. There needs to be better general knowledge of these principles in the Church of Sweden. The Church of Sweden will strive to respect the principles of indigenous rights in its activities.
6. Increase the influence and participation of the Sami in the Church of Sweden
According to the principles of indigenous rights, the Sami have the right to selfdetermination in matters that affect them. This means that the Church of Sweden should actively promote Sami influence and participation in the Church’s activities and find ways for this to happen. Participation of the Sami in decisionmaking processes is a particular priority in matters of principle affecting them.
7. Strengthen the identity and spiritual development of Sami children and young people
Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Sami children and young people have the right to spiritual development. They also have the right to their native language and to develop a cultural identity. Efforts that strengthen the vitality, identity and spiritual development of Sami children must be promoted.
8. Promote transnational Sami ecclesiastical life
The Sami are a transnational people living in four states. They see themselves as one people, and Sami ties across national borders are strong. The Church of Sweden has a long history of close cooperation on Sami issues with its Lutheran sister churches in Norway and Finland. Russian Sami are also invited to the joint Nordic Sami church days. Transnational cooperation strengthens and develops Sami ecclesiastical life in the Church of Sweden and should therefore be actively promoted. For larger Sami ecclesiastical projects, such as major translations, Nordic cooperation is essential.