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​Statement: Great concern about deeper divisions following Trump’s initiative

Press Releases   •   Dec 06, 2017 17:50 GMT

The Church of Sweden expresses deep concern today over President Trump’s plans to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the U.S. embassy to that city.

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​Support for war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo

Press Releases   •   Dec 05, 2017 12:50 GMT

Over 2.4 million people, half of whom are children, are directly affected by the ongoing violence and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The need for humanitarian aid is urgent. The Church of Sweden’s international work now supports efforts for about 50,000 people among the worst affected.

The Kasai provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are experiencing one of the most serious crises in their history and are in a complex emergency situation. Violent ethnic conflicts have caused an unprecedented massive internal displacement of populations within and outside the five provinces in the Great Kasai area. In summer 2017, it was reported that 1.4 million people had been forced to flee their homes because of the violence.

According to reports from UNICEF among others, 2.4 million people, half of them children, are now directly impacted and are in need of humanitarian aid. Almost all sectors of society are affected and require extensive emergency and recovery interventions. Children, and pregnant women and nursing mothers have alarming malnutrition levels and those who have fled their homes have huge basic needs for survival.

Support for 50,000 people
The interventions for those affected will cover a total of around 50,000 people, of which 4,115 are children affected by severe malnutrition, and 495 are nursing mothers and pregnant women.

The Church of Sweden's aid goes to providing:

  • Tents and other necessities for people whose houses have been burned down or who have had to flee the conflicts.
  • Food, water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • Education and psychosocial support to abandoned children and orphans. Many are traumatised after having witnessed their parents being killed or having themselves been recruited to armed groups.
  • Aid measures.
  • Work for peaceful coexistence in the conflict-affected areas.

The interventions are being carried out within the framework of the ACT Alliance and amount to a total of SEK 3.1 million comprised of, for the most part, SIDA funds.

Psychosocial efforts
Within the ACT Alliance, the Church of Sweden has special competence in psychosocial efforts, which involve responding to and supporting people in disaster situations. First of all, those affected receive support in the form of food and clean water, sanitation and shelter. The aid must also be given in a way that strengthens people’s will to live and does not make them feel helpless. This is a significant risk in a situation where they already feel anxious and confused.

Over 2.4 million people, half of whom are children, are directly affected by the ongoing violence and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The need for humanitarian aid is urgent. The Church of Sweden’s international work now supports efforts for about 50,000 people among the worst affected.

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Fake news in the media about the Church of Sweden´s new Worship book

Press Releases   •   Nov 24, 2017 15:23 GMT

Inaccurate information has been spread in the Swedish and international media about the inclusive language being used in the new Book of Worship adopted by the Church of Sweden’s General Synod recently. The chair of the divine service committee, Sofia Pedersen Videke, clarifies below.

“Of course, the traditional expressions of Christian faith remain in the new worship book. However, some gender neutral ways of referring to God have been added in some prayers", she says. 

1. For the introduction to the divine service – the very first words uttered when the basic structure of the service is followed – we have introduced three options:

a) “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
b) “In the name of God the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
c) “In the name of the Triune God.”

One of these three options is chosen to begin the divine service.

2. In Swedish, for the first and second of these options, an adaptation of the language to our year 2000 Bible translation (Bibel 2000) has been made, which was in fact one of the directives for the development of the new Book of Worship. The grammatical gender used for the noun ‘Spirit’ in both this new translation of the Bible in Swedish, and the new Book of Worship, is thus the common gender in Swedish (called reale or realgenus).

3. The pronoun ‘hen’, which is now the official gender-neutral pronoun in the Swedish language, is not used at all in the Book of Worship.

​Media has spread incorrect information in Sweden and internationally about the inclusive language of the new Worship Book. The Chair of the worship committee, Sofija Pedersen Videke, therefore clarifies some facts. “The traditional expressions of Christian faith remain in the new worship book. However, some gender neutral ways of referring to God have been added in some prayers.

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​Yes to the new Worship Book – by a large majority

Press Releases   •   Nov 23, 2017 11:00 GMT

The General Synod voted yes on Thursday morning to adopting a new Worship Book for the Church of Sweden after a ten-hour debate on Tuesday. The Book of Worship contains orders of service for divine services such as the service with Holy Communion and the baptism and wedding services. The new Worship Book will start being used on Whit Sunday, 20 May 2018.

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Decisions in the Church of Sweden General Synod 22 November

News   •   Nov 22, 2017 15:30 GMT

The 2017 General Synod has decided today that the General Synod 2019 will be a theme-based General Synod, and to develop a member growth strategy, and to make efforts to stop the relocation of unaccompanied minors and young people after their 18th birthdays during the asylum procedure.

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Report from the review: “Learn from the Book of Worship process”

Press Releases   •   Nov 15, 2017 07:10 GMT

On 15 November, the general sub-committee of the Church of Sweden’s Central Board received the report from the review that the elected auditors had commissioned accounting firm Grant Thornton to produce. The subject of the review was the process of reviewing and revising the Book of Worship.

“We have just received the report. We will now go through it and see what lessons we can learn from it,” says Archbishop Antje Jackelén, chair of the Central Board of the Church of Sweden.

The review covers the period 2006 to 2017, with a focus on work done from 2010. The point of departure for the review was to highlight shortcomings and development opportunities in the Church of Sweden’s project process.

“The review focuses on how the project was run and does not include any assessment of the content or quality of the end product, that is, the Book of Worship,” writes the accounting firm. The report also makes clear that those parts of the project that are considered to have worked well are only briefly touched on.

Recommendations
Grant Thornton’s strongest recommendations concern setting requirements and monitoring by the Board and steering committees, as well as roles and responsibilities, project planning and transparency. The Central Board is seen as not having been sufficiently active in monitoring and controlling the work done with the Book of Worship. The general sub-committee of the Church of Sweden’s Central Board does not fully share this view:

“Since 2010, there have been 13 lengthy presentations in the Central Board or its general sub-committee. In addition, the working committee was the project’s steering committee from December 2014. The Central Board has also received regular updates of information via the Secretary General’s reports,” says Mats Hagelin, second vice chair.

The work started in 1997 with an amendment prior to a new translation of the Bible and the drafting of a Church Ordinance. Subsequently, the project developed from a review into a more thoroughgoing revision.

“It grew gradually and guidance of the process grew too, the longer the process went on, which has also been noted in the report,” says Wanja Lundby-Wedin, first vice chair.

Quality Assurance
According to the report, the material ought to have been fully quality-assured before it was sent out for consultation rounds.

“The report presents a rather odd picture of the Church of Sweden as an organisation controlled from the top down, where experts are supposed to quality-assure material that the parishes then receive to provide their feedback on. But it is in fact the parishes that play a key role in quality assurance. Because they conduct our divine services, they have the expert knowledge,” says Archbishop Antje Jackelén.

The committee also notes that the material was quality-assured in many ways throughout the process by the various working groups, the Bishops’ Conference, and external experts in theology and music.

The committee further notes that the recommendation Grant Thornton provides concerning the roles, responsibilities and mandates of all those involved is an important lesson for future projects. The requirements on each function and what decisions they are entitled to make must be made clear. For external experts too, responsibilities and their mandates must be made clear.

Decision in the General Synod
The proposed Book of Worship itself was not subject to review. After treatment in General Synod’s Doctrinal Commission and the divine service committee, the draft version has now been tabled for a decision in the second plenary session of the General Synod on 20-23 November. The report from the divine service committee proposes that the draft Book of Worship be adopted with the amendments suggested by the committee.

On 15 Nov, the general sub-committee of the Church of Sweden’s Central Board received the report from the review that the elected auditors had commissioned accounting firm Grant Thornton to produce. The subject of the review was the process of reviewing and revising the Book of Worship. “We will now go through the report and see what lessons we can learn from it,” says Archbishop Antje Jackelén.

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The Church of Sweden at national level is a new member of the Fossil Free Sweden initiative

Press Releases   •   Nov 14, 2017 11:00 GMT

​The Church of Sweden has joined the Swedish Government’s climate initiative Fossil Free Sweden in order to be part of achieving Sweden’s and the world’s climate targets. Climate efforts within the Church of Sweden cover everything from energy use in our churches and other properties here at home to efforts to tackle climate change in developing countries.

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Church of Sweden General Synod to reconvene next week for decisions

Press Releases   •   Nov 14, 2017 10:00 GMT

The General Synod will reconvene in Uppsala next week for its plenary working session and decisions. The single biggest item for decision is the proposal for the new Book of Worship, which has resulted in to 52 motions. Directly after the end of the General Synod, the newly elected General Synod for the mandate period 2018–2021 will gather for an election meeting.

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The Church of Sweden to the Minister for Migration: A meeting about the situation for unaccompanied minors cannot wait!

Press Releases   •   Nov 09, 2017 15:45 GMT

Statement from the Church of Sweden:

"Today the Swedish Forum for Human Rights begins in Jönköping. Let it be a starting point for placing the human rights of all unaccompanied minors and young people, who are currently living a nightmarish existence in Sweden, front and centre.

Next year it will be 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly. The Declaration was adopted at a time when millions of people were in flight, not very different from the situation that the world is in today. In many difficult conversations, Sweden has been a strong voice when it comes to standing up for the rights that all people have, wherever they may find themselves in the world. The Swedish Government has now said that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is a priority and is to become Swedish Law in 2020.

Despite its very small size, Sweden is seen by many as a humanitarian superpower, but this image has been called into question subsequent to the temporary law introduced in 2016 which made it more difficult to get protection in Sweden. At the same time, there is an ongoing dehumanisation of children and young people who have fled to find safety, security and a future in a country whose prime minister claimed in 2015 would not build any walls. This development is something we are worried about. Last week, the Church of Sweden and Rädda Barnen requested a meeting with the Minister for Migration in order to identify joint solutions to the emergency situation of unaccompanied minors in Sweden. Neither the Minister for Migration nor the undersecretary of state saw any need to meet now, and deferred the matter to an already booked meeting on 22 November. From what we hear and see in the Church of Sweden’s parishes, this matter cannot wait that long.

People under threat of expulsion are turning to the parishes for assistance and support after the State has renounced responsibility for them. Many feel that they have been denied the right to a fair and impartial examination of their case under the rule of law. Young people are looking for couches to sleep on in order to continue their schooling after having been told to move to another location.

The people who are coming to us are mentally and physically distressed by the apprehension that they will be forced to return to a country where they risk injury in an armed conflict. We need to see and hear the voices of these people; the voices of people who have already fled to get protection and a secure future.

It is clear that the rights of these children under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have not been satisfied.

There is no time to lose. We must meet as soon as possible in order to identify potential ways forward!"

Wanja Lundby-Wedin, first vice-chair of the Board of the Church of Sweden
Mats Hagelin, 2nd vice-chair of the Board of the Church of Sweden

BACKGROUND

The Church of Sweden and Save The Children have advanced three demands in order for unaccompanied minors and young people to be allowed to remain in Sweden under dignified, legal forms. Last week, these organisations requested an urgent meeting with the Minister for Migration.

With these organisations’ combined experience of the desperation of these minors and young people, the established worsening security situation in Afghanistan, and the uncertainty in the asylum process that many bear witness to, the Church of Sweden and Save The Childrendemand that:

  • All expulsions to Afghanistan are stopped until the outcomes of already executed expulsion orders can be followed up.
  • The possibility of obtaining a residence permit on the basis of special and particularly distressing circumstances is reinstated.
  • All young people from Afghanistan not granted a residence permit on other grounds and deemed to be between 18 and 25 years of age are given the opportunity to obtain a residence permit on the grounds of upper secondary school studies by means of an expansion of Sweden’s Act on upper secondary school education.

The letter to the Minister for Migration in its entirety may be read HERE (in Swedish).

The Church of Sweden and Save The Children have advanced three demands in order for unaccompanied minors and young people to be allowed to remain in Sweden under dignified, legal forms. Last week, these organisations requested an urgent meeting with the Minister for Migration. Now, the Church of Sweden again urges the Minister of Migration to set up a meeting as soon as possible.

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Press conference during the Swedish Forum for Human Rights: The battle for the sexual and reproductive rights of young people

Press Releases   •   Nov 08, 2017 11:00 GMT

​In Tanzania, the Church of Sweden’s local representative, Josephine Sundqvist, works with local efforts against female genital mutilation and for the right of all people to make their own decisions about their bodies. Meet her and courageous partners from Tanzania at a press conference prior to the seminar My Body – My Right at the Swedish Forum for Human Rights.

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  • ewa.almqvist@svenskakyrkan.se
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  • lotten.andersson@svenskakyrkan.se
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