In the land of moose and islands

From deep in the south to high in the north: following his visit to South Africa last weekend, the Chief Apostle will stop off in Sweden this coming weekend, a country that can easily compete with Philippine archipelago.

The Swedes are easy-going

“The Swedes are very easy-going, which is quickly summarised in two sentences: “Det ordna sig!” which translates as: “Everything will be fine!” and “Tar det lugnt!” which means “Take it easy!” Dieter Krause explains. He is a Priest and the congregational rector in Malmö (Sweden). The Swedish psyche is calm and quiet, a special characteristic of people who live in the North. And they are extremely polite and avoid a categorical no, for fear of offending their conversation partner.

Four congregations

Sweden is vast: it extends some 1,600 kilometres from south to north. It is 500 kilometres wide. Only ten million people live here and on some of its 221,000 islands. This country on the Arctic Circle has 30 times more islands than the Philippines.

The membership in the four congregations is 439. They are looked after by 24 ministers. Malmö has 42 members, the congregation in Växjö 62, the congregation in Gothenburg has 99 members, and the congregation in Stockholm 236 members.

A history that goes back 120 years

The New Apostolic Church was established in Sweden quite some time ago. “In 1897 Bernhard Wiesel moved from Leipzig (Germany) to Stockholm and founded the congregation there. That same year, Chief Apostle Friedrich Krebs ordained him an Evangelist. The congregation grew to 60 members in the first fifteen years. After World War One and World War Two many German brothers and sisters fled Germany and headed north. This is how congregations in Gothenburg and Malmö came to be established. Later, congregations were founded in the cities of Växjö, Vänersborg, Borås, Södertälje, and Älmhult,” the rector says. Unfortunately, the number of practising Christians is declining, as in many other parts of Europe.

Today divine services take place on a regular basis in our churches in Stockholm and Gothenburg, on Sundays and Wednesdays. The congregations in Malmö and Växjö gather for services alternately: one Sunday in Malmö in the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and the next Sunday in Växjö in a hotel. “And in Nattavaara, north of the Arctic Circle, there is a sister who lives there with her husband and three children. In the winter months, however, services take place irregularly,” Priest Krause says. “And since District Evangelist Bernd Rauser from Germany moved to Umeå with his wife for professional reasons, devotions and services are being conducted in their home.”

“Det ordna sig!”

This weekend, Chief Apostle Schneider, District Apostle Rüdiger Krause, Apostle Jörg Steinbrenner—who is responsible for the congregations in Sweden—and two guests from Germany, Apostles Franz-Wilhelm Otten and Klaus Katens, will be in Sweden.

It is a good thing that the Chief Apostle announced his visit to Sweden quite a while ago. You can drop in on a Swede any time, except on three days of the year: Midsummer (21 June), the start of the moose hunting season (which varies by region), and the finale of the Eurovision Song Contest.” The finale is taking place this coming weekend, just when Chief Apostle Schneider will be in Stockholm. But the members are fine with it, and are really looking forward to the Chief Apostle’s visit.

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