Church of Sweden
Church of Sweden
The Church of Sweden (Svenska kyrkan) is an evangelical Lutheran Church that until recently was the “state church” (established church) of Sweden. The Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther was introduced to Sweden in 1527. Beginning in the late 1600s, Sweden was defined as an evangelical (Protestant) church and Swedes were required to “confess the evangelical faith.” The Church of Sweden was disestablished in January 2000 and declared a “faith community”. It is still Sweden’s largest Christian denomination. The church is within the Protestant/Lutheran tradition anchored in the doctrines of justification (salvation through grace by faith) and “sola Scriptura” (Scripture is the final authority on matters of faith).
Church of Sweden Mission in Zimbabwe
The Swedish Mission Board was founded in 1874 and two years later the Church of Sweden Mission (CSM) sent its first missionary to South Africa. In 1878, CSM bought a farm at Rorke’s Drift in Natal, creating the first mission station there named Oscarsberg in our honor of King Oscar II. CSM went on to establish other missions in Natal and Zululand (KwaZulu-Natal).
In 1903, CSM expanded north into Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) with the purchase of the Mnene farm south of Belingwe (Mberengwa). Because of adverse conditions, a permanent presence was not established until 1908. From Mnene, CSM added several additional mission stations – principally in the Mberengwa area. For the first 30 years, CSM missions in Zimbabwe were regarded as part of the Swedish Lutheran mission in South Africa. In 1934, it was decided that Zimbabwe should have its own CSM missionary committee.
The Swedish Church in Zimbabwe became an independent church in 1963 as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Southern Rhodesia – now known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ). As such, it took over administration of all work (including the missions) previously directed by CSM. Jonas Shiri was consecrated as the first African bishop in 1975.
The “struggle for liberation” in the late 1970’s seriously impacted ELCZ schools, causing many to close (some were destroyed). All Swedish missionaries were withdrawn by CSM in 1976. The schools were re-opened post independence in 1980. As of 2006, ELCS had 134,000 members, the vast majority of which are in the southern part of the country. The church runs a number of schools, four hospitals and a nursing school.
- 1903 – Mnene Mission
- 1920 – Masase Mission
- 1932 – Musume Mission
- 1932 – Zezani Mission
- 1938 – Manama Mission
- 1949 – Chegato Mission
- Sweden and National Liberation in Southern Africa – Tor Sellström
- The History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe 1903 – 2003 (pdf) – Hugo Söderström, Sten Bergman and Tore Bergman
- World Council of Churches
- Mark Loomis