Växjö Diocese has elected its new bishop

Fredrik ModéusThe next Bishop of Växjö will be Fredrik Modéus.  He was elected today with a total of 58% of the vote, gaining 342 votes as opposed to the 248 achieved by Thomas Petersson.

Fredrik Modéus was born in 1964.  He lives in Lund , where he is currently “Canon pastor” in the Cathedral parish.  Before that he was team leader in Holy Spirit parish in Lund for 13 years.

He was ordained priest in 1991 in Växjö diocese, serving for a year in Värnamo before moving on to be “associate priest” in Hässleholm (1992-1994), and then Chaplain to the diocesan folkhögskola in Oskarshamn, in the north of Växjo diocese (1994-5).  After a year pursuing further study in Lund , he was appointed to the Holy Spirit Parish as “associate priest”, in which capacity he served for two years before becoming team leader.

He studied at Lund University , where he is currently a doctoral student, due to submit his thesis in an area of systematics in the spring.  He has written several books and is a regular contributor (as columnist and, more recently, leader-writer) to the Church of Sweden ’s newspaper “Kyrkans tidning”.  Last October he was one of the speakers at the Växjö clergy conference.  I was present at the session and attach the written-up version of his notes, which we used in Terriers as the basis for a background paper for our Mission Action Planning.

He is married to Carina. They have three children: Erik (20), Ida (18) and Arvid (15). His parents live in Jönköping. He has two brothers, and assorted nephews and nieces.

In his leisure time he likes to spend time with his family and to travel to new places.  He enjoys reading, listening to music and playing the piano. He is interested in sport and exercises regularly, preferably on his own on a running track.

Tony Dickinson

3 December 2014

Getting to know the Swedish Church 2014


 By Nick Hance TSSF

Our party of priests and LLMs from the Oxford Diocese visited Sweden under the Oxford – Vaxjo educational link during 22nd September and 1st October.  We were led by the Revd Hugh White, whose ability to speak Swedish helped us gain the maximum learning from our visit.

Getting to know SC 2014

The group with Bishop Jan-Olof Johansson

We stayed at St Sigfrid’s School near the city of Växjö, billed as “The Greenest City in Europe”.  The School taught Music and the Arts but also provided 50 students with a ‘second chance’ to gain qualifications after dropping out of education.  Our delightful hostess Åse is a teacher there and she organised Morning Prayer in the Chapel so starting each day perfectly.

Any stereotypical thoughts we had about Sweden and its people were shattered!  Yes, Sweden is full of trees, lakes and brightly painted houses.  It is twice the size of the UK; but it only has a population of 9 million people, consequently there is little traffic and life is much less frenetic.  Swedes are not cold and distant, nor do they shy away from having contact with strangers.  Surprisingly they do not avoid discussions about feelings and the deeper things of life.

We noticed a reverence for light and people used it everywhere in their architecture and homes as defiance against the five dark months of winter.  At sunset houses become ablaze with lamps set in every window.  Derek Lancaster said, “For me, the keyword of the trip was ‘beautiful’. We were in beautiful countryside and forest, we shared in beautiful worship and prayer and we encountered people whose calm, inner spirituality was beautiful.”

Visits were made to the cathedrals in Växjö and Kalmar, the Bishop’s palace, nearby parish churches – and an 8-mile pilgrimage along St Sigfrid’s trail through forests and hills.  We enjoyed deep discussions with our hosts comparing the Churches of Sweden and England.  We partook of Swedish “Fika” – a mid-morning coffee break augmented by a second breakfast and a mid-afternoon break of tea, pastries and fruit!

The main difference between the national churches was in the roles of priests and deacons.  The role of a Swedish deacon is not a step towards priesthood but rather one of pastoral care.  Priests do the sacramental work and manage the people paid by the Church of Sweden doing parish work.  Deacons do much of the day-to-day Parish work.

About 70% of the Swedish people currently opt to pay the Church Tax ensuring magnificent resources are available in every parish (most churches had suites of toilets) but only 2% of the people go to church.   We visited Mother and Toddler groups, homes for the elderly and a well-resourced drop-in centre for the poor and disadvantaged.  Linda West said, “It will be interesting to see how things develop in the Swedish church over the coming years as their tax funding declines and they are forced to rely more on volunteers – something which I think may be a good thing as it will encourage more discipleship.”

Sweden currently has a relatively liberal policy towards immigration with over one-tenth of the population being immigrants. The recent election has shown that this has become a topical issue in Sweden and our discussions reflected this.

Everyone found the Inclusive Mass (eg gay, transvestites etc) at the cathedral a moving and spiritual occasion and, as Barry Fleming put it; “We shared the peace with no language barrier and we all knew what we were doing – sharing our personal feelings and emotions together.”