Major events for which the Central Board of the Church of Sweden is earmarking special resources are the Theology Festival in Uppsala in February; the world festival Världens Fest in Västerås in June, which on this occasion will be called Världens Luther (Luther of the world); and Reformation Week at the end of October, which will culminate on 31 October when Reformation Day will be celebrated in Sweden’s cathedrals.
The Reformation Year will also be noticeable on the Church of Sweden’s Se människan (see the human being) stage during the Göteborg Book Fair in September. There will also be many activities in the Church’s dioceses and parishes during the year.
“One goal of the Church’s activities is to increase the general public’s knowledge and understanding of Lutheran theology and what it has contributed to in the development of Swedish society – for example, how it has promoted reading skills and general education,” says Cristina Grenholm, Church secretary at the Church of Sweden.
“We will highlight key concepts of the Reformation such as the grace of God, justification through faith, the Gospel and forgiveness, and how they can be understood and become relevant for people today.”
“We also want to show that the theology of the Reformation is a resource in our times, in our multicultural society. Luther emphasised general ethics, that people have a moral compass. God works in many ways, not just through Christians.”
Cristina Grenholm adds that the Church is also hoping to bring nuance to the often negative portrayal of Luther in Sweden.
“We want to show that he emphasised things such as the freedom and responsibility of the individual, how he emancipated and encouraged everyone to think for themselves – also in issues of faith.”
“However, we must not ignore Luther’s problematic sides. For example, we will examine his anti-Semitism and how it has affected the Church’s relationship with Judaism. It will also be an opportunity to critically examine our own history,” says Cristina Grenholm.
In 2017 the ecumenical perspective will have a clear presence; a joint initiative will take place with the Christian Council of Sweden, which will bring all major church denominations together.
A joint document has also been drawn up by Lutherans and Catholics in preparation for 2017. It is titled From conflict to communion and forms a basis for dialogue between the Church of Sweden and the Roman Catholic Church in Sweden. It is also the foundation for joint events involving both churches in 2017.
Following today’s decision by the Central Board of the Church of Sweden, the various parts of the project will now start to be planned in detail. Work is also starting on drawing up inspiring material for the parishes in the Church of Sweden. A national calendar of the events in 2017 will also be available as soon as possible.