Swedish Church keeps losing members
The Swedish Church keeps losing members, this according to new statistics. Meanwhile, other religious communities are growing.
Last year, 54,483 people chose to leave the Swedish Church, while 7,563 people actively entered it. The bigger municipalities are the ones that lose most members; in Stockholm and Göteborg that means close to 50 percent, while in Malmö it’s less than that.
“There’s a marked difference between city and country,” says Jonas Bromander, analyst at the Swedish Church’s national registrar. “Those who live in the countryside are more often members. People who live in Stockholm have usually moved there, and don’t have their childhood church nearby which makes the relationship to the church weaker, than if you stay in the same place all your life.” Hans Wolfbrandt is parish priest in Lysekil, the parish which has lost more members than any other in Sweden. He says the member surveys show that those who leave the church don’t do so because they feel poorly treated, rather because they either don’t share the faith or for financial reasons. Up to the year 2020, the church expects to have lost nearly 60 percent of its membership, or one million fewer members.

“We have a negative change in generations that adds to this (development), many more members are older, at an age where mortality is the greatest. At the same time we don’t get new members in the same rate,” says Bromander. For the Catholic Church in Sweden, the trend is the opposite. According to Jan Svensson, who is responsible for the registering, the figures have pointed up since 2001. In November of last year, the number of Catholics in Sweden was 103,509, compared to November 2011 when there were 100,867. And already this year there are new members. Many members of the Catholic Church were born abroad, though. '
“But it (the growing Catholic Church) also means great challenges, since people come from different countries and speak different languages, we have to keep it all together. That’s not always easy, but it means positive challenges.” Free Churches also grow; Svenska Alliansmissionen (the Swedish Alliance Mission), which consists of 184 congregations, increased by 80 members last year to a total of 13,686. The Pentecostal Church increased by 500 people to 83,284, though the long-term trend has been downward. The Evangelical Free Church has also made progress in the shape of more members; in 2011 they had 32,223 members.