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Church of Sweden responds to “fake news” regarding Worship Book

Church of Sweden responds to “fake news” regarding Worship Book

Rev. Dr Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of the Church of Sweden. ©Albin Hillert/WCC

05 December 2017

“I am pleased to say that the Church of Sweden now has a Book of Worship that has been adopted with broad support,” said Archbishop Antje Jackelén.

The chair of the worship committee for the Church of Sweden, Sofija Pedersen Videke, said on 24 November that the traditional expressions of Christian faith remain in the new Worship Book.

“However, some gender neutral ways of addressing God have been added in some prayers", she said.

Videke spoke out in response to inaccurate articles that appeared in several major publications.

While new inclusive language is presented in the Worship Book, inaccurate news stories reported that the Church of Sweden would refer to God only in gender-neutral terms.

For the introduction to the divine service – the very first words uttered when the basic structure of the service is followed – the new Worship of Book have introduced three options:

a) “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
b) “In the name of God the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
c) “In the name of the Triune God.”

One of these three options is chosen to begin the divine service.

In Swedish, for the first and second of these options, an adaptation of the language to our year 2000 Bible translation (Bibel 2000) has been made, which was in fact one of the directives for the development of the new Book of Worship. The grammatical gender used for the noun ‘Spirit’ in the new Book of Worship, is thus the common gender in Swedish (called reale or realgenus)

Videke added: "Finally; in Swedish, there is nowadays an official gender neutral pronoun: ‘hen’. This word is not used at all in the Worship Book.”

Videke said “The new Book of Worship also takes into account the child’s perspective throughout. This is partly the result of more and more families in some parishes celebrating divine worship with children than previously. For decades, the congregation’s involvement has been growing, which is evident in the new Book of Worship through antiphonal song, for example.” She concluded “The new Book of Worship for the Church of Sweden also relates to both its own ecclesiastical tradition and to a worldwide, ecumenical community of worship.”

World Council of Churches director of Communication Marianne Ejdersten voiced her support for communicators within the Church of Sweden as they worked quickly to correct the inaccurate reports.

“In communications, we have reached a point at which technology enables us to share news very quickly,” she said. “But the media’s efforts to gain attention and create sensational headlines has unfortunately also given rise to ‘fake news.’ ”

Ejdersten urged news creators and audiences alike to be sure to check their sources. “Part of working for justice means being fair to the subjects of our reporting and countering fake news when it becomes hurtful. Let’s tell positive, true stories that bring hope.”