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Patterns of Pastoral Work

The Church of Sweden involves a broad section of the population in its pastoral work. This often requires special pastoral care and instruction in the faith in connection with baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals. In some parishes, special groups help with this ministry.


There is a variety of Church of Sweden activities for preschool children. Some parishes run nursery schools, and very often they organize two to three hours of activities for children and their parents once or twice a week.

Sunday schools, commonplace earlier, have declined in number. They are increasingly replaced by Sunday masses or other liturgies specially aimed at families.

Youth in the Church

Church of Sweden Youth (Svenska Kyrkans Unga) has its own constituency, is democratically organized and has its own Representative Council.

During the post-confirmation period, several Christian associations arrange activities for students in state-run schools. (By Swedish custom and law, students in state-run schools are not to be subjected to religious propaganda. Thus, religious education there is objective, in the sense that a number of different religions are discussed, and various denominations have an opportunity to present their views.)

In some cases, catechists are employed specially to work among children and youth. However, most youth leaders are volunteers.

Adults in the Church

For adults, activities offered vary greatly from parish to parish. Groups organized by regional and local branches of the Christian Education Association of Sweden (Sensus) are common. There is a wide range of subjects, from art and literature to liturgy and church organization.

Women's groups, with a nationwide total of more than 100,000 members, exist in most parishes. They play an important role in fellowship. By selling handicrafts made during the year, they provide financial support for parish activities and overseas mission work.

The Church of Sweden Lay Movement (Svenska kyrkans lekmannaförbund) has local branches in many parishes which involve people in study, discussion, and fellowship.

The Church of Sweden also emphasizes parish pastoral work with retired people.

Overall, the pattern for pastoral work in the Church of Sweden is determined to a great extent by liturgical occasions and activities of church associations. In these, priests, deacons, and other church workers play an important part.

The Church on national level

On the national level special departments support parish work. They work with liturgical renewal, evangelism, study, and social work. They are also responsible for work among the 300,000 Finnish-speakers in Sweden, as well as among refugees and immigrants.

The departments are also responsible for professional training courses and further education, for the training of parish volunteer leaders and representatives. They lead and coordinate education development within the Church of Sweden.

Confidential help

Confidential help and advice is offered by every Swedish priest to whoever desires it, irrespective of membership of the Church of Sweden. Priests are trained in counselling, and can, when the person desires it, move the conversation into private confession, when the person confesses their sins before God with the priest as witness. The priest then pronounces God's forgiveness for the sins confessed and the person knows a reconciliation with God and themselves.  

Telephone help is available on a 24-hour basis with a duty priest. The state law prohibits the legal system from calling a priest as a witness in court. This means that under no circumstances can he or she be compelled to divulge that which has been said during a confession and the priest is bound by his or her ordination vows to observe this obligation.