Five members of the congregation of St Francis’ church, Terriers, (ages ranging from 12 to 80) set out from High Wycombe with their vicar, Canon Tony Dickinson, to visit Sweden at the end of October 2011. They didn’t have the greatest start. All of the group except the vicar had their baggage searched at Heathrow (and he got caught on the way back!). A smooth flight to Gothenburg allowed them time to explore the city centre before catching the train to Värnamo. They were met at Värnamo station by Bella Aune, the kyrkoherde (rector) of Bredaryd and driven to the village inn, where they enjoyed food and accommodation of a very high quality. On Sunday they took part in the högmässa (Parish Communion) of Bredaryd church, enjoying the contribution of the wonderful Bredaryd choir, whose visit to Terriers at the beginning of Lent 2010 had been the initial contact between the two parishes. This was followed by lunch with the congregation and a trip out to the former Cistercian Abbey at Nydala.
The group travelled on to Växjö on Monday. After a tour of the cathedral they were welcomed at the Bishop’s House for coffee and cake with Bishop Jan-Olof Johansson. He and Tony Dickinson took the opportunity to start making plans for his first visit to Oxford as Bishop at the beginning of March 2012. Then they took a taxi to S:t Sigfrids folkhögskola at Kronoberg (the diocese’s residential lay training centre and their base for the rest of their visit), arriving in time for an evening meal at 6.00 p.m. The next morning (Tuesday) they walked to the ruins of the bishop’s lakeside castle. From there they caught the bus into Växjö city for day learning about the culture and history of Småland through the Emigrants’ Museum and the Glass Museum. After an evening meal in the city centre, they caught the last bus back to Kronoberg.
On Wednesday morning they packed their bags and returned to Växjö to do some shopping and send their postcards. At 1.00 p.m. they caught the train through to Gothenburg, travelling onward to Landvetter airport for the flight home.