The Church of Sweden (Swedish: Svenska kyrkan) is an Evangelical Lutheran national church in Sweden. A former state church, headquartered in Uppsala, with 6.0 million baptised members at year end 2017 it is the largest Christian denomination in Sweden.
It is the largest Lutheran denomination in Europe and the third-largest in the world after the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. A member of the Porvoo Communion, the Church professes the Lutheran branch of Christianity. It is composed of thirteen dioceses, divided into parishes. It is an open national church which, working with a democratic organisation and through the ministry of the church, covers the whole nation. The Primate of the Church of Sweden is the Archbishop of Uppsala — currently Antje Jackelén, Sweden's first female archbishop. Today, the Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran church.
It is liturgically and theologically "high church", having retained priests, vestments, and the Mass during the Swedish Reformation. In common with other Evangelical Lutheran churches (particularly in the Nordic and Baltic states), the Church of Sweden maintains the historical episcopate. Some Lutheran churches have congregational polity or modified episcopal polity without Apostolic succession, but the historic episcopate is maintained in Sweden and the other Lutheran nations of the Porvoo Communion.
The Church of Sweden is known for its liberal position in theological issues, particularly the question of homosexuality. When Eva Brunne was consecrated as Bishop of Stockholm in 2009, she became the first openly lesbian bishop in the world.
Despite a significant yearly loss of members (lately 2% annually), its membership of 5,993,368 people accounts for 59.3% (yearend 2017) of the Swedish population. Until 2000 it held the position of state church. The high membership numbers are because until 1996 all newborn children were made members, unless their parents had actively cancelled their membership. Approximately 2% of the church's members regularly attend Sunday services. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2009, 17% of the Swedish population considered religion as an important part of their daily life.
Church of Sweden
|Primate||Archbishop Antje Jackelén|
|Associations||Lutheran World Federation,|
World Council of Churches,
Conference of European Churches,
|Founder||King Gustav I of Sweden|
|Separated from||Roman Catholic Church in Sweden|
|Separations||Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (1809)|
|Congregations||3 379 churches (2016)|
|Members||5,993,368 baptized members (59.3%) (2017)|
King Gustav I Vasa instigated the Church of Sweden in 1536 during his reign as King of Sweden. This act separated the church from the Roman Catholic Church and its canon law. In 1571, the Swedish Church Ordinance became the first Swedish church order following the Reformation.
The Church of Sweden became Lutheran at the Uppsala Synod in 1593 when it adopted the Augsburg Confession to which most Lutherans adhere. At this synod, it was decided that the church would retain the three original Christian creeds: the Apostles', the Athanasian, and the Nicene.
In 1686, the Riksdag of the Estates adopted the Book of Concord, although only certain parts, labelled Confessio fidei, were considered binding, and the other texts merely explanatory. Confessio dei included the three aforementioned Creeds, the Augsburg Confession and two Uppsala Synod decisions from 1572 and 1593.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, a variety of teachings were officially approved, mostly directed towards ecumenism:
In practice, however, the Lutheran creed texts play a minor role, and instead the parishes rely on Lutheran tradition in coexistence with influences from other Christian denominations and diverse ecclesial movements such as Low Church, High Church, Pietism ("Old Church") and Laestadianism, which locally might be strongly established, but which have little nationwide influence.
During the 20th century the Church of Sweden oriented itself strongly towards liberal Christianity and human rights. In 1957, the church assembly rejected a proposal for ordination of women, but then the Riksdag changed the law in spring 1958 and forced the church assembly to accept the new law in autumn 1958. Since 1960, women have been ordained as priests, and since 1994, men who oppose collaboration with women priests have not been allowed ordination. A proposal to perform same-sex weddings was approved on October 22, 2009 by 176 of 249 voting members of the Church of Sweden Synod.
In 2000 the Church of Sweden ceased to be a state church, but there remains a strong tradition of community connection with churches, particularly in relation to rites of passage, with many infants baptized and teenagers confirmed (currently 40% of all 14 year olds) for families without formal church membership.
|Year||Population||Church members||Percentage||% change (avg.)|
While some Swedish areas had Christian minorities in the 9th century, Sweden was, because of its geographical location in northernmost Europe, not Christianized until around AD 1000, around the same time as the other Nordic countries, when the Swedish King Olof was baptized. This left only a modest gap between the Christianization of Scandinavia and the Great Schism, however there are some Scandinavian/Swedish saints who are venerated eagerly by many Orthodox Christians, such as St. Olaf. However, Norse paganism and other pre-Christian religious systems survived in the territory of what is now Sweden later than that; for instance the important religious center known as the Temple at Uppsala at Gamla Uppsala was evidently still in use in the late 11th century, while there was little effort to introduce the Sami of Lapland to Christianity until considerably after that.
The Christian church in Scandinavia was originally governed by the archdiocese of Bremen. In 1104 an archbishop for all Scandinavia was installed in Lund. Uppsala was made Sweden's archdiocese in 1164, and remains so today. The papal diplomat William of Modena attended a church meeting in Skänninge in March 1248, where the ties to the Catholic Church were strengthened.
The most cherished national Catholic saints were the 12th-century King Eric the Saint and the 14th-century visionary Bridget, but other regional heroes also had a local cult following, including Saint Botvid and Saint Eskil in Södermanland, Saint Helena of Skövde and Saint Sigfrid in Småland. In their names, miracles were performed and churches were named.
Shortly after seizing power in 1523, Gustav Vasa addressed the Pope in Rome with a request for the confirmation of Johannes Magnus as Archbishop of Sweden, in the place of Gustav Trolle who had been formally deposed and exiled by the Riksdag of the Estates.
Gustav promised to be an obedient son of the Church, if the pope would confirm the elections of his bishops. But the pope requested Trolle to be re-instated. King Gustav protested by promoting the Swedish reformers, the brothers Olaus and Laurentius Petri, and Laurentius Andreae. The king supported the printing of reformation texts, with the Petri brothers as the major instructors on the texts. In 1526 all Catholic printing-presses were suppressed, and two-thirds of the Church's tithes were appropriated for the payment of the national debt. A final breach was made with the traditions of the old religion at the Riksdag called by the king at Västerås in 1544.
Other changes of the reformation included the abolition of some Catholic rituals. However, the changes were not as drastic as in Germany; as in Germany Swedish churches keep not only crosses and crucifixes, but also icons and the traditional Mass vestments which in Germany were usually discarded in favor of the black preaching gown and stole until recent times. And many holy days, based on saints days, were not removed from the calendar until the late 18th century due to strong resistance from the population.
After the death of Gustav Vasa, Sweden was ruled by a king with Catholicizing tendencies, John III, and another openly Catholic one, John's son Sigismund, who was also ruler of Catholic Poland but eventually deposed from the Swedish throne by his uncle. The latter, who acceded to the throne as Charles IX used the Lutheran church as an instrument in his power struggle against his nephew, but is known to have had Calvinist leanings.
The New Testament was translated to Swedish in 1526 and the entire Bible in 1541. Revised translations were published in 1618 and 1703. New official translations were adopted in 1917 and 2000. Many hymns were written by Swedish church reformers and several by Martin Luther were translated. A semi-official hymnal appeared in the 1640s. Official hymnals of the Church of Sweden (Swedish: Den svenska psalmboken) were adopted in 1695, 1819, 1937 and 1986. The last of these is ecumenical and combines traditional hymns with songs from other Christian denominations, including Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Catholic, Mission Covenant, Methodist, Pentecostalist, and the Salvation Army. In October 2013, the Church of Sweden elected Antje Jackelén as Sweden's first female archbishop.
In the 1800s-1900s the Church of Sweden supported the Swedish government by opposing both emigration and preachers' efforts recommending sobriety (alcoholic beverages are sold in Sweden by a government monopoly). This escalated to a point where its ministers even were persecuted by the church for preaching sobriety, and the reactions of many congregation members to that contributed to an inspiration to leave the country (which however was against the law until 1840).
The 19th century coat of arms is based on that of the Archdiocese of Uppsala. It is blazoned Or on a cross Gules an open crown of the field and thus features a gold/yellow field with a red cross on which there is a gold/yellow crown. The crown is called the victory crown of Christ, based on the royal crowns used in medieval times and corresponds in form to the crowns in the Swedish coat of arms and to that resting on the head of Saint Eric in the coat of arms of Stockholm.
The Church adopted, at the time that it was still a state church, an administrative structure largely modelled after the state. Direct elections are held to the General Synod (Swedish: Kyrkomötet, The Church Assembly), and the diocesan and parish (Swedish: Församling) assemblies (and in some cases, confederation of parishes (Swedish: kyrklig samfällighet, 'church association') assemblies and directly elected parish councils). The electoral system is the same as used in the Swedish parliamentary or municipal elections (see Elections in Sweden). To vote in the Church general elections, one must be member of the Church of Sweden, at minimum 16 years of age, and nationally registered as living in Sweden.
The groups that take part in the elections are called nominating groups (Swedish: nomineringsgrupper). In some cases the nationwide political parties take part in the elections, such as the Social Democrats and the Centre Party. After the formal separation of Church of Sweden from the State of Sweden, the growing tendency in the elections is towards independent parties forming for candidature, either based on a political conviction, for example Folkpartister i Svenska kyrkan founded by Liberal People's Party members, or a pure church party such as the political independents' Partipolitiskt obundna i Svenska kyrkan (POSK) and Frimodig kyrka.
It practices direct ordination, also called ordination per saltum (literally, ordination by a leap), in which candidates are directly ordained to the specific Order of ministry for which they have trained. This is an alternative approach to the sequential ordination of other historic churches (including the Anglican, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches) in which candidates must be ordained in the strict sequence of deacon, then priest, then bishop. A Church of Sweden priest will be ordained directly to that office, without any previous ordination as a deacon. In the history of Holy Orders direct ordination seems to have been commonplace in the Church before the fourth century, whilst the two systems (direct ordination and sequential ordination) seem to have co-existed in different places, until the eleventh century, when sequential ordination became universally normal and requisite, under Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085).
After the Reformation, the Swedish Church seems to have practiced variously both direct ordination and sequential ordination. Although direct ordination was more widespread, and became normative, the practice of sequential ordination is attested in the seventeenth century Swedish Church. Bishop Johannes Rudbeckius (1619-1646) habitually ordained men to the diaconate in advance of ordaining them to the priesthood, and this was said by Archbishop Johannes Lenaeus of Uppsala (in 1653) to be usual Church of Sweden practice.:415
In the Evangelical Lutheran churches, including the Church of Sweden, ministerial function is indicated by the usual vestments of western tradition, including the stole, worn straight or crossed by priests, and diagonally by deacons. However, whereas in Roman Catholic or Anglican ordinations the candidates for priesthood will already be wearing the diagonal deacon's stole, in the Church of Sweden candidates for both diaconate and priesthood are unordained at the start of the service. Dr Tiit Pädam, of Uppsala University and a Swedish-based priest of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church writes: "At the beginning of the [Evangelical Lutheran] ordination service, the candidates are dressed in white albs and no one wears a stole at the beginning of the rite. In this way the churches express a significant aspect of their understanding of ordination. The white alb, used both by the ordinands to the diaconate as well as to the priesthood, is a sign that the ordination is a new beginning, rooted in the priesthood of all the baptised.":276
The Church of Sweden employs full-time deacons to staff its extensive outreach and social welfare diakonia programme. Whilst deacons have the traditional liturgical role (and vesture) in the Swedish Church, their principal focus of work is outside the parish community, working in welfare roles. Nonetheless, deacons are attached to local parishes, and so connected with church communities, and with a parish priest. In common with other western rite churches, the clergy of the Church of Sweden wear clerical shirts which are black for priests and purple for bishops. Unlike other denominations, however, the Church of Sweden officially promotes green clerical shirts for its ordained deacons, as a further distinctive sign of their ministry.
The Church of Sweden is divided into thirteen dioceses (Swedish: stift), each with a bishop and cathedral chapter (Swedish: domkapitel). A bishop is elected by priests, deacons and some laity in the diocese and is the chairman of the cathedral chapter. Priest and deacon members of a cathedral chapter are elected by priests and deacons in the diocese and its lay members by stiftsfullmäktige, a body elected by church members.
A diocese is divided into "contracts" kontrakt (deaneries), each with a kontraktsprost (provost), as the leader. Deaneries with a diocesan cathedral are called domprosteri. Titular provosts can also sometimes be appointed, in Swedish called prost or titulärprost. The dean and head minister of a cathedral is called domprost, "cathedral dean" or "cathedral provost", and is a member of the cathedral chapter as its vice chairman.
At the parish level a parish is called församling. A more archaic term for a parish in Swedish is socken, which was used both in the registry and in the church administration. After the municipal reforms in 1862 the latter usage officially was replaced with församling, a term somewhat meaning "congregation", originally and still used for the Lutheran territorial and nonterritorial congregations in cities and also for other religious congregations. One or several parishes are included in a pastorat with a head minister or vicar called kyrkoherde (literally "church shepherd") and sometimes other assistant priests called komminister (minister). At a cathedral an assistant minister is called domkyrkosyssloman.
In addition to the 13 dioceses, the Church of Sweden Abroad (Swedish: Svenska kyrkan i utlandet - SKUT) maintains more than 40 overseas parishes. Originally a collection of overseas churches under the direction of a committee of the General Synod, SKUT was remodelled from 1 January 2012 with a quasi-diocesan structure. Under this remodelling it gained a governing Council, constituent seats on the General Synod of the Church of Sweden (like the 13 mainland dioceses), and for the first time full-time deacons to provide a programme of social welfare alongside the work of priests and lay workers.:20 However, SKUT does not have its own bishop, and is placed under the episcopal oversight of the Bishop of Visby.
|Archdiocese of Uppsala||Uppsala||Uppsala Cathedral||1123||Antje Jackelén (Archbishop)|
Ragnar Persenius (Bishop)
|Diocese of Linköping||Linköping||Linköping Cathedral||12th century||Martin Modéus|
|Diocese of Skara||Skara||Skara Cathedral||1014||Åke Bonnier|
|Diocese of Strängnäs||Strängnäs||Strängnäs Cathedral||1129||Johan Dalman|
|Diocese of Västerås||Västerås||Västerås Cathedral||12th century||Mikael Mogren|
|Diocese of Växjö||Växjö||Växjö Cathedral||1165||Fredrik Modéus|
|Diocese of Lund||Lund||Lund Cathedral||1048||Johan Tyrberg|
|Diocese of Gothenburg||Gothenburg||Gothenburg Cathedral||1620||Susanne Rappmann|
|Diocese of Karlstad||Karlstad||Karlstad Cathedral||1581||Sören Dalevi|
|Diocese of Härnösand||Härnösand||Härnösand Cathedral||1647||Eva Nordung Byström|
|Diocese of Luleå||Luleå||Luleå Cathedral||1904||Åsa Nyström|
|Diocese of Visby||Visby||Visby Cathedral||1572||Thomas Petersson|
|Diocese of Stockholm||Stockholm||Stockholm Cathedral||1942||Eva Brunne|
The Diocese of Kalmar existed as superintendentia 1603–1678 and as a diocese between 1678–1915 when it was merged with the Diocese of Växjö. Another diocese which no longer exists is the Diocese of Mariestad which existed as superintendentia between 1580–1646 and was replaced by the Diocese of Karlstad.
The dioceses of Uppsala, Strängnäs, Västerås, Skara, Linköping, Växjö and the now Finnish diocese of Turku, are the original seven Swedish dioceses, dating from the Middle Ages. The rest have come into existence after that time and the Swedish reformation in the 16th century. The Diocese of Lund was founded in 1060, became an archdiocese in 1104 and lay in Denmark. The Province of Lund consisted of Denmark, Sweden and Finland throughout the Middle Ages (originally also Norway and Iceland), although Uppsala had their own subordinate ecclesiastical province and archbishop from 1164.
Since 1994 the Church of Sweden has been part of the Porvoo Communion, bringing it into full Communion with the Anglican churches of the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula, together with the other Lutheran churches of the Nordic nations and the Baltic states. In 1995 full communion was achieved with the Philippine Independent Church. Since 2015, the Church of Sweden has also been in full communion with the Episcopal Church of the United States.
Ardre Church (Swedish: Ardre kyrka) is a medieval Lutheran church at Ardre on the Swedish island of Gotland. The church is in the Diocese of Visby of the Church of Sweden.Bunge Church
Bunge Church (Swedish: Bunge kyrka) is a medieval Lutheran church in Bunge on the Swedish island of Gotland, in the Diocese of Visby (Sweden).Catholic Church in Sweden
The Catholic Church in Sweden was established by Archbishop Ansgar in Birka in 829, and further developed by the Christianization of Sweden in the 9th century. King Olof Skötkonung (ca. 970-1021) is considered the first Christian king of Sweden.
In the Middle Ages, continental culture, philosophy and science spread to Sweden through the Catholic Church, which also founded schools, Uppsala University, hospitals as well as monasteries and convents. Several church representatives also became significant actors outside the religious sphere.
The Reformation in Sweden began in 1527 when King Gustav Vasa and his Riksdag of Västerås broke the full communion of the Swedish church with the Pope in Rome, and instead made it politically controlled by the kingdom. Controversies about the state of Catholicism in the Swedish church endured, however, even until the reigns of King John III (1568-1592) and the Catholic King Sigismund of Sweden (1592-1599).
At the Uppsala Synod in 1593, under the influence of Duke and future King Charles IX of Sweden, the Swedish church finally became a Lutheran state church, ratified by Charles' victory in his war against his Catholic predecessor in 1599. Governmental anti-Catholicism was imposed in Sweden, including deportations and death penalties for Catholics in 1599-1781.
Limited visits of individual foreign Catholics in Sweden were decriminalised through the Tolerance Act, imposed in 1781 by King Gustav III of Sweden. The conversion of Swedish citizens to the Catholic Church was decriminalized in 1860. In 1951, Swedish citizens were allowed to exit from the Lutheran Church of Sweden. In 1977, the last legislative ban on Catholic convents in Sweden was abolished. Still, however, according to the Act of Succession of the Swedish throne, only Lutheran legitimate descendants brought up in Sweden are presently entitled to succeed as monarch and the thus head of state of Sweden.
Since 1953, the Catholic Church in Sweden is formally represented by the Diocese of Stockholm, covering the whole country, estimating some 106,873 registered members (2013), with unofficial estimates of about 150,000 Catholics in the country in total. Most of them have an immigrant background, while others are native Swede converts.
On May 21, 2017 Pope Francis named Bishop Anders Arborelius, the Ordinary of Stockholm, a Cardinal, a first for the Catholic Church in Sweden.Diocese of Lund
The Diocese of Lund (Swedish: Lunds stift) is a former Latin Catholic (arch)bishopric with see in Lund, southern Scandinavia. At the time of the Danish Reformation, it became a diocese in the Lutheran Church of Denmark, and since the signing of the treaty of Roskilde in 1658 it has been the southernmost diocese in the Lutheran Church of Sweden.
The territory of the present Lutheran diocese corresponds to the provinces of Blekinge and Skåne. There are 217 parishes within the diocese, the largest number in any of the dioceses of the Church of Sweden. The present bishop of Lund, Johan Tyrberg, succeeded Antje Jackelén in 2014.Diocese of Stockholm (Church of Sweden)
The Diocese of Stockholm (Swedish: Stockholms stift) is a division of the Church of Sweden. Its cathedral is Storkyrkan in Stockholm's Old Town. The diocese covers most of metropolitan Stockholm and was formed in 1942 from parts of the medieval dioceses of Strängnäs and Uppsala, both pre-dating the foundation of Stockholm. Before 1942, the City of Stockholm itself and Greater Stockholm were divided more or less equally between the two medieval dioceses at Slussen just south of Stockholm's Old Town.Diocese of Visby
The Diocese of Visby (Swedish: Visby stift) is a division of the Church of Sweden consisting of Gotland. Its seat is Sankta Maria cathedral in old town of Visby.
The Bishop of Visby is also responsible for the episcopal oversight of the Church of Sweden Abroad (SKUT).Diocese of Västerås
The Diocese of Västerås (Swedish: Västerås stift) is a division of the Church of Sweden. Its home is in the Västerås Cathedral.Etelhem Church
Etelmhem Church (Swedish: Etelhems kyrka) is a medieval Lutheran church on the Swedish island of Gotland. It belongs in the Diocese of Visby of the Church of Sweden.Fleringe Church
Fleringe Church (Swedish: Fleringe kyrka) is a medieval Lutheran church in Fleringe on the Swedish island of Gotland. The church is associated with the Diocese of Visby of the Church of Sweden..Fröjel Church
Fröjel Church (Swedish: Fröjels kyrka) is a medieval Lutheran church in Fröjel on the Swedish island of Gotland. It is associated with the Diocese of Visby of the Church of Sweden.Gustaf Church, Copenhagen
Gustaf Church (Swedish: Svenska Gustafskyrkan), part of the Church of Sweden Abroad, is the church of the Swedish congregation in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was built from 1907 to 1911 to the design of Theodor Wåhlin and is named after King Gustaf V of Sweden.List of Protestant missionaries in China
This is a list of notable Protestant missionaries in China by agency. Beginning with the arrival of Robert Morrison in 1807 and ending in 1953 with the departure of Arthur Matthews and Dr. Rupert Clark of the China Inland Mission, thousands of foreign Protestant missionaries and their families, lived and worked in China to spread Christianity, establish schools, and work as medical missionaries.Luther's Small Catechism
Luther's Small Catechism (German: Der Kleine Katechismus) is a catechism written by Martin Luther and published in 1529 for the training of children. Luther's Small Catechism reviews the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, the Office of the Keys and Confession and the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It is included in the Book of Concord as an authoritative statement of what Lutherans believe. The Small Catechism is widely used today in Lutheran churches as part of youth education and Confirmation. It was mandatory for confirmands in the Church of Sweden until the 1960s.Mission Covenant Church of Sweden
The Mission Covenant Church of Sweden (Swedish: Svenska Missionskyrkan), founded in 1878, was a Swedish Reformed free church. It was the second-largest Christian denomination in Sweden, after the national church, the Church of Sweden. In 2011–2012, the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden completed a long-planned merger with the Baptist Union of Sweden and the United Methodist Church of Sweden. The new denomination was called Joint Future Church, until the new name Equmeniakyrkan (Uniting Church in Sweden) was adopted by the general assembly in May 2013.
Prior to 2003, the Mission Covenant Church was called Svenska Missionsförbundet (literally Swedish Mission Covenant, though the official English name already was Mission Covenant Church of Sweden at that time). The Swedish Salvation Army (Svenska Frälsningsarmén (SFA), which is a separate organisation from the international Salvation Army, which also operates in Sweden) is a non-territorial district of the Mission Covenant Church.
The Mission Covenant Church of Sweden had its origins in, and continues to share quite a close relationship with, the Lutheran Church of Sweden. As a movement it had roots in Pietism and the spiritual awakenings of the 19th century. The denomination is a member of the Swedish Free Church Council, the [International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches], and the World Communion of Reformed Churches. When Swedish Covenanters emigrated to the United States and Canada in the last half of the 19th century, they formed the Evangelical Covenant Church. The denominations are independent of each other but have maintained fraternal ties. The forming of the Swedish Mission Covenant was one of the first steps in forming "Free Church" denominations in Sweden.The church sent numerous missionaries to many countries around the world, such as China in the 19th and early 20th centuries, in particular Xinjiang, Japan, India, Russia and Caucasus, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Ecuador, Alaska, Spain and, in numbers of missionaries the largest field, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo. In many other countries there were missionary projects.
The church had 61,000 members in 700 congregations in 2009.Parishes of the Church of Sweden
The Parishes of the Church of Sweden (Swedish: Svenska kyrkans församlingar) are subdivisions within the Church of Sweden that historically were called socken but nowadays are called församling. Similar units were used for municipal (landskommun) and cadastral purposes (jordebokssocknar or jordregistersocknar) until the 20th century.
After the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century the church also became a state church and as such was charged with administrative tasks like as keeping the civic registry. Parishes were also used as cadastral units (jordebokssocknar, later jordregistersocknar), sometimes with slightly different borders. Eventually religious and civil matters became separated in two entities within the same district (in 1863), the religious congregation (församling) and the civil parish or rural municipality (landskommun). The civil parish handled municipal tasks, but the congregation still retained a significant share of influence, including responsibility for schools. The civil parishes were merged to larger municipalities, in most cases in 1952. Some civil parishes remained as separate municipalities until the mergers of 1967–1974 and in a few cases even after that. The cadastral parishes remained until a reform between 1976 and 1995, where they were replaced by the municipalities.
On July 1, 1991, the Swedish Tax Agency took over the remaining duties related to the population register from the parishes.
The Church of Sweden was separated from the Swedish state on 1 January 2000, but its parishes are still used in official statistics. The parishes have seen major geographical changes since that date, so records are kept for both parishes as of 2000 and parishes as of today. However, this ended on 1 January 2016 when Sweden introduced secular registration districts instead.Religion in Sweden
Religion in Sweden is diversified. Christianity was the religion of virtually all of the Swedish population from the 12th to the early 20th century, but it has rapidly declined throughout the late 20th and early 21st century. In 2015, legally registered Christians comprised 69.9% of the total population.
The Lutheran Church of Sweden — which was the state religion until 2000 — has a registered membership of 6.0 million Swedish citizens as of 2017, equal to 59.3% of the total population. One reason for the high membership might be the fact that until 1996 all newborns with at least one parent being a member of the Church of Sweden were also registered as members of the church. Yet the membership is declining rapidly, about 1% each year, for the most recent years even 2%, falling from 95% in 1970 and 85% in 2000.
Prior to their Christianisation that became complete around the 12th century, the Swedes practised forms of Norse religion. At first they became part of the Catholic Church; then, from the 1530s, Sweden switched to Lutheranism as part of the Protestant Reformation which converted most of Germanic Europe; the Church of Sweden was formed and remained the official religion of the Christian state until the turn of the 21st century. The 21st century brought with itself a rapid decline of Christianity overall, the disestablishment of the Church of Sweden, and the modest growth of other religions, often brought by waves of immigration from outside the country. These last include Islam, Catholic Christianity, Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern religions.Same-sex marriage in Sweden
Same-sex marriage in Sweden has been legal since 1 May 2009, following the adoption of a new gender-neutral law on marriage by the Swedish Parliament on 1 April 2009, making Sweden the seventh country in the world to open marriage to same-sex couples nationwide. Existing registered partnerships remain in force and can be converted to a marriage if the parties so desire, either through a written application or through a formal ceremony. New registered partnerships are no longer able to be entered into and marriage is now the only legally recognized form of union for couples regardless of sex.
On 22 October 2009, the governing board of the Church of Sweden, voted 176–62 in favour of allowing its priests to wed same-sex couples in new gender-neutral church ceremonies, including the use of the term marriage. Same-sex marriages have been performed by the church since 1 November 2009.Statistics Sweden
Statistics Sweden (Swedish: Statistiska centralbyrån, SCB) is the Swedish government agency responsible for producing official statistics regarding Sweden. National statistics in Sweden date back to 1686 when the parishes of the Church of Sweden were ordered to start keeping records on the population. SCB's predecessor, the Tabellverket ("office of tables"), was set up in 1749, and the current name was adopted in 1858.
As of 2015, the agency had approximately 1,350 employees. The offices of the agency are located in Stockholm and Örebro. Statistics Sweden publishes the Journal of Official Statistics.Storkyrkan
Storkyrkan (Swedish: [²stuːrˌɕʏrkan], "The Great Church"), officially named Sankt Nikolai kyrka (Church of St. Nicholas) and informally called Stockholms domkyrka (Stockholm Cathedral), is the oldest church in Gamla stan, the old town in central Stockholm, Sweden. Originally the main parish church of Stockholm, it currently also serves as the seat of the Lutheran Bishop of Stockholm within the Church of Sweden since the creation of the Diocese of Stockholm in 1942. It is an important example of Swedish Brick Gothic. Situated next to the Royal Palace, it forms the western end of Slottsbacken, the major approach to the Royal Palace, while the streets Storkyrkobrinken, Högvaktsterrassen, and Trångsund passes north and west of it respectively. South of the church is the Stockholm Stock Exchange Building facing Stortorget and containing the Swedish Academy, Nobel Library, and Nobel Museum.