Svenska kyrkan

Report from the review: “Learn from the Book of Worship process”


On 15 November, the general sub-committee of the Church of Sweden’s Central Board received the report from the review that the elected auditors had commissioned accounting firm Grant Thornton to produce. The subject of the review was the process of reviewing and revising the Book of Worship. “We have just received the report. We will now go through it and see what lessons we can learn from it,” says Archbishop Antje Jackelén, chair of the Central Board of the Church of Sweden.

The review covers the period 2006 to 2017, with a focus on work done from 2010. The point of departure for the review was to highlight shortcomings and development opportunities in the Church of Sweden’s project process.

“The review focuses on how the project was run and does not include any assessment of the content or quality of the end product, that is, the Book of Worship,” writes the accounting firm. The report also makes clear that those parts of the project that are considered to have worked well are only briefly touched on.

Grant Thornton’s strongest recommendations concern setting requirements and monitoring by the Board and steering committees, as well as roles and responsibilities, project planning and transparency. The Central Board is seen as not having been sufficiently active in monitoring and controlling the work done with the Book of Worship. The general sub-committee of the Church of Sweden’s Central Board does not fully share this view:

“Since 2010, there have been 13 lengthy presentations in the Central Board or its general sub-committee. In addition, the working committee was the project’s steering committee from December 2014. The Central Board has also received regular updates of information via the Secretary General’s reports,” says Mats Hagelin, second vice chair.

The work started in 1997 with an amendment prior to a new translation of the Bible and the drafting of a Church Ordinance. Subsequently, the project developed from a review into a more thoroughgoing revision.

“It grew gradually and guidance of the process grew too, the longer the process went on, which has also been noted in the report,” says Wanja Lundby-Wedin, first vice chair.

Quality Assurance
According to the report, the material ought to have been fully quality-assured before it was sent out for consultation rounds.

“The report presents a rather odd picture of the Church of Sweden as an organisation controlled from the top down, where experts are supposed to quality-assure material that the parishes then receive to provide their feedback on. But it is in fact the parishes that play a key role in quality assurance. Because they conduct our divine services, they have the expert knowledge,” says Archbishop Antje Jackelén.

The committee also notes that the material was quality-assured in many ways throughout the process by the various working groups, the Bishops’ Conference, and external experts in theology and music.

The committee further notes that the recommendation Grant Thornton provides concerning the roles, responsibilities and mandates of all those involved is an important lesson for future projects. The requirements on each function and what decisions they are entitled to make must be made clear. For external experts too, responsibilities and their mandates must be made clear.

Decision in the General Synod
The proposed Book of Worship itself was not subject to review. After treatment in General Synod’s Doctrinal Commission and the divine service committee, the draft version has now been tabled for a decision in the second plenary session of the General Synod on 20-23 November. The report from the divine service committee proposes that the draft Book of Worship be adopted with the amendments suggested by the committee.



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