Great commitment demonstrated in submissions on the proposed new Service Book
On 15 May, the period for submissions in response to the 2016 consultation round on the proposed new Service Book ended. The process of compiling the submissions is now complete, and shows among other things that the majority of the Church Councils (82%) are of the opinion that the parishes’ divine service traditions are catered for to a high degree or relatively high degree.
All the Church Councils and all the cathedral chapters and diocesan boards of the Church of Sweden were invited to submit their responses along with 56 other referral bodies. A total of 616 responses were received, of which 395 came from the Church Councils (55%) and 163 were spontaneous responses.
The submissions material has been analysed using scientific method by experts in for example theology, music and the sociology of religion. This has entailed both quantitative and qualitative analyses.
During the autumn, the revision group will develop a final proposal to be submitted to the Central Board of the Church of Sweden in spring 2017. Bishop Emeritus Esbjörn Hagberg, Chair of the revision group, expresses great appreciation for the level of commitment demonstrated by those who submitted responses, and for all the effort that has been put into the submissions.
“It’s a solid body of material that we have received. I feel very confident about the work we will be doing now in the revision group; this material provides a good foundation for us to stand on.”
- The Order of Service for the General Divine Service was judged to be good or quite good by 78 per cent of the parishes (Church Councils). 80 per cent also considered the religious ceremonies to be good or quite good. Somewhat more submissions (82%) were of the view that the parishes’ divine service traditions were well catered for, while some felt that these ought to have been given even greater scope.
- The majority of the parishes are satisfied with the ways in which the proposed new Service Book expresses faith, creed and doctrine. However, a smaller group of parishes were of the view that a Service Book with many options weakens the doctrine, while others felt that these options are essential. Some believe that referring to Jesus as “Lord” should be emphasised more in the divine service, since it deals with the theology of the Trinity, while others felt that the balance is right.
- Concerning children’s participation, the need for more prayers and texts for small children was raised by some, and many referral bodies drew attention to the importance of the new music in the proposal; in particular call-and-response songs and a more accessible language. Many stated that children's participation often involves aspects not regulated in the Service Book, such as ways in which scripture is presented to children, and how children are received.
- Comments about the language used in the proposed new Service Book demonstrated differing ideas about what a well-functioning divine service language is in different types of divine service contexts. Here, some regional differences were also found.
- 88 per cent of the Church Councils were of the view that the traditional divine service music from the 1986 Service Book, Divine Service Music A in the proposed new Service Book, is good or quite good, while 10 per cent responded “neither good nor bad”.
- In responses received relating to the supplementary divine service music (Divine Service Music B–E) it is quite apparent that the trial parishes were more positive than those who were not involved in the trial. Concerning Divine Service Music B, opinions were expressed that the music is beautiful but difficult, requiring resources in the congregation in the form of a choir for example, but that it would be a winner in the long run. Divine Service Music C, D and E were particularly highlighted in the responses as important from the child’s perspective.
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