There are about 3500 Church Of Sweden buildings in the country of Sweden. As the church has Protestant and Catholic roots it has been described or called a bridgechurch. The church of Sweden is an evangelical church that participates in the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the Conference of European Churches and the Christian Council of Sweden.
This church also is proudly working with projects in disaster relief, climate and environment, peace and human rights, rural development, HIV/AIDS and economic justice.
From 2007, gays were given blessings in their unions but were not yet able to get married officially in the church. In 2009, 176 out 249 voters voted in favour of gay marriage, which means that the church has power and recognizes its tolerance to officiate gay marriages.
The founder of the church of Sweden is recognized as Gustav 1 of Sweden in 1527/1593.
In the second half of the 19th century the Church Assembly was established, chaired by the archbishop with 30 clergy (including bishops) and 30 lay people. However in 1949, it increased to 43 clergy and 53 lay people. The Church Assembly had the right to advise, decide or agree on church matters.
Uppsala cathedral and autumn trees.
Up until the year 2000 the state recognized the church of Sweden as the church of the state and affairs of the church were controlled by parliament (riksdag). That case has changed and although Sweden no longer has a church of the state, the state still supports the church.
Archbishop of Uppsala leads the church at national level and is a representative at international level. The Kyrkomötet (Church Assembly) has evolved to consist of 251 members who meet twice a year and regulate all decisions related to the church.
There are 13 dioceses (responsible for visitations and ordaining newly trained candidates) in the Church of Sweden. The priests of the diocese and lay people elect each bishop who leads each diocese.
The diaconate is a year's probation before priesthood but also is a separate order focused on caring for the sick and doing pastoral work.
Generally all parishes employ a priest, musician and deacon.
The following are some meanings when read on a church board notice:
Mässa - service with communion
Högmässa - Sunday/Feast-days principal service with communion
Högmässogudstjänst - Sunday/Feast-days principal service without communion
Söndagsgudstjänst - Sunday service of simpler form
Familjegudstjänst - Sunday service of simpler form, suitable for all ages
Helgsmålsbön - Short evening service linked to the ringing of bells on the eve of a Sunday or feast-day
The church conducts:
Baptisms (There is some preparation for this and it is available for all children, adults at confirmation or later and done with water poured over the forehead while the priest pronounces “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,”).
Communion (Involves more preparation and is available to early teens, it is a process of learning the practices of the church and where discussion is encouraged, this often recalled as a solemn experience).
Confidential help (A priest is protected by the law and may not be called as a witness by the state, where the priest is not obligated to divulge what he has heard in confession and it is his/her duty to respect that vow of confidentiality. There is a call center that operates 24 hours with an on duty priest to assist anyone in need, all priest are trained in counselling).