Consultation on the proposed new Church of Sweden Service Book

Church of Sweden

The analysis of the responses received in the consultation process on the proposed a new Service Book, which has been tested in parishes during the spring of 2016, will now begin. (Photo: Joakim Carlström/IKON)

Posted 18 May 2016

The official period for submitting comments on the proposed new Book of Worship 2016 is now over, and 431 invited referral bodies have submitted their opinions. In addition, 141 spontaneous responses have been received from parish councils, groups and individuals. The work of compiling and analysing these responses will commence immediately, and it is anticipated that it will be complete by mid September. The revision group will then begin working on the final proposal.

The Book of Worship contains orders of worship for the Church of Sweden’s services, such as the baptism service and the marriage service. The Book of Worship provides the framework for celebrating the service, and expresses what the Church believes, avows and teaches. The current Book of Worship is from 1986.

“We appreciate all the work that the referral bodies have put into their opinions. This is a large and rich material, and the comments we have received will now play an important role in the final editing and adapting,” says Bishop Per Eckerdal, vice-chairman of the steering group working on the Book of Worship.

The invited referral bodies consisted of all the Parochial Church Councils in the Church of Sweden, all the cathedral chapters and diocesan boards, as well as 56 ecclesiastical organisations, colleges/universities, academies and other bodies, in total just over 800.

The revision group’s mission is work on producing a final proposal during the autumn based on the proposal that was circulated for comment during the spring, and the responses now received. The chair of the revision group is Esbjörn Hagberg, Bishop in the Karlstad diocese.

The final proposal for the new Book of Worship will be submitted to the Central Board of the Church of Sweden in spring 2017. A proposal for a new Book of Worship can go before the General Synod for a decision in the autumn of 2017. A new Book of Worship can then start being used in the parishes in 2018.

Scientific analysis

The opinions received were mostly submitted via web-based questionnaires. The number of questions varied based on the referral function and role of each of the different referral bodies, in order to achieve both breadth and depth in the response material.

“We will be processing the response material using scientific methodology in order to assure its quality,” explains Jonas Bromander, reader in the sociology of religion, who is assisting in the analysis process.

“This has been a very comprehensive consultation round, and has resulted in a complex material that requires careful scientific analysis. The number of responses that have now come in rather exceeded our expectations, because this was a follow-up consultation, but they are most welcome.

The scope of the questionnaires varied depending on the type of referral body. For example, the parishes who participated in the 2012 trial period received more questions than those that had only been referral bodies in 2016. Thirty-seven parishes that had previously been trial parishes received additional in-depth questions.

Long process

Work on a new Book of Worship is a long process, and it began in 2006 when the Central Board of the Church of Sweden decided on an overhaul of the 1986 Service Book. Three years later, in 2009, the Central Board of the Church of Sweden decide on a “radical revision to improve the function and celebration of our services”. However, some tasks had already assigned at the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the twenty-first century.

These tasks included adapting the Book of Worship to the most recent Bible translation (2000), using a more inclusive language, and including the child’s perspective (decision of the General Synod 2012). According to a decision of the General Synod in 2001, the revised version is also to include supplementary service music.


The proposed Book of Worship 2016 is a recasting of the 2012 proposal, which was tested in 40 per cent of all parishes during the church year from first of Advent 2012 to the Sunday before Advent 2013. The consultation round in spring 2016 was a follow-up round based on the updated Book of Worship proposal, which it has been possible to trial in all parishes.

Parts of the Book of Worship 2012 proposal were translated into Swedish Sign Language, three Sami languages, Finnish and Meänkieli. The proposal is now being edited and adapted. A translation into Romany is also in progress. Multilingual parishes were among the trial parishes in 2012–2013, and in these parishes you can celebrate divine service in your own language. The translations were made by special working groups.

The revision team will submit a final proposal to the Central Board of the Church of Sweden in spring 2017. A written proposal for a decision on a new Book of Worship can then be issued by the Central Board of the Church of Sweden in June for consideration at the General Synod in autumn 2017. A new Book of Worship can start being used in 2018. It will then be the eighth Book of Worship in the Church of Sweden since the Reformation. [Church of Sweden News]