The goal of this paper is to present the processes of establishment and development of the SOC in Sweden, with a special focus on its organization and activities. The discussion is based on an analysis of relevant literature and internet sources, as well as interviews conducted with different representatives of the SOC in Sweden in 2017.
The establishment of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) in Sweden is closely linked with the increased number of Serbian immigrants during the 1960s and 1970s. The then Serbian Bishop for West Europe and Australia Lavrentije asked the former protestant priest Christofer Klasson to take care of the Serbian Orthodox mission in Sweden in 1967. The first Serbian Orthodox parish was established in Västerås in 1972. During the next seven year – long period the parishes in Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg were founded. After the disintegration of socialist Yugoslavia in the first half of the 1990s the population of Serbs in Sweden increased rapidly. In 1990, the Serbian Orthodox Eparchy of Britain and Scandinavia was founded, and its center established in Stockholm a year later. This period is seen as crucial in the development of the SOC in Sweden. Today, the SOC represents the second largest Orthodox Church in Sweden with around 40.000 members. It includes 8 parishes with 12 priests, and owns 6 church buildings and 2 monasteries.
The SOC had a strong influence on the development of Swedish speaking Orthodoxy, so the Swedish Deanery (Svenska prosteriet), with its center in Gothenburg, and the Swedish Orthodox Province of St Anna of Novgorod (Den heliga Anna av Novgorods kyrkoprovins) in Stockholm are also under the jurisdiction of the SOC.
The SOC mission in Sweden is the holy liturgy. Besides, it runs a liturgical life with all regular activities included. Apart from that, the SOC organizes a set of other educational, cultural, and artistic activities, e. g. religious education teaching, Serbian language teaching, Serbian folk dance teaching. There are also occasional contacts and cooperation with different Serbian associations in Sweden. The SOC is a member of the Christian Council of Sweden and hence takes part in dialogues with other Christian communities. Additionally, it takes care of spiritual needs of hospitalized patients as well as prisoners in Middle and South Sweden.