In Sweden, Three Denominations Become One

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN (June 10, 2011) – The Swedish Mission Church, Swedish Methodist Church, and the Swedish Baptist Union have finalized their vote to become one denomination.

The Mission Church was the second-largest Christian denomination in the country, after the national church, the Church of Sweden. It is a sister denomination of the Evangelical Covenant Church, both springing from the Pietist movement, which began within the German Lutheran Church.

Four hundred representatives from the three Swedish denominations voted on the agreement at a Formation Meeting earlier this month. The church will begin its operations later this year or in 2012. The central office will be housed in the Ecumenical Centre, currently under construction in Alvik, Stockholm.

The working name of the new church is Gemansam Framtid (Common Future). A final decision on a permanent name will by made by 2014.

The vote was the culmination of years of cooperation. The three denominations voted in 2008 at their respective annual meetings to accept the Declaration of Intention concerning the creation of a new joint denomination.

The Declaration explains the biblical reasons for the churches’ decision. “Jesus’s prayer for his disciples challenges the Christian Church to manifest the unity which is a gift of God. All Christians living in the same place are called to a full fellowship with each other and with the whole Church of Christ,” the document read. “Worship service, proclamation, Holy Communion, and service witness to this unity.”

Prior to the Declaration, the three denominations already had started planting joint congregations. The document noted that the differing histories will strengthen Common Future. “This church will be a provisional one on our way to the visible unity of the Church of Christ in openness to other churches and denominations in Sweden. Our historic roots from different traditions are gifts that we hand to each other. We constitute diversity in the joint assignment of serving God and our neighbor.”

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  1. I think that the Common Future formed in Sweden could be a harbinger of transformational change that spreads to the USA. As the forces of secularization and cultural accommodation erode Orthodox Christianity in our country, Christians churches face extinction unless they find the courage to sacrifice denominational non-essentials that divide and embrace doctrinal essentials that unite.

  2. I trust the focus and foundation of Common Future will be the soon return of Jesus as King and Lord – in a powerful earthly Kingdom (per Century One faithful), followed by taking all believing followers (past & present) to his eternal home in heaven. (John 14:1-4) … Even so, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

  3. Would it be possible that a longer article on this be written for the Companion? What are the theological implications of this merger, particularly baptism? There has already been joint education; will there be reciprocal calling of pastors and, in the future, will there be one ordination? What will the structure and polity of the new denomination be? How will the historic mission-interests of the respective denominations be handled; for instance, what happens with the Mission Church’s efforts in Congo? What role does lack of funding and loss of membership have in this merger and how will that be addressed in Gemensam Framtid?

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