Svenska kyrkan

The Duty Priest Service turns 65 but has no plans to retire

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When the Duty Priest Service turns 65 on 7 February, we celebrate a key service to society that has grown increasingly significant, not least during the pandemic in the past year. The number of phone calls via the emergency number 112 has more than doubled since 2008, when the service began to be organised nationally in Sweden. Demand for the internet chat service is also increasing.

Photo: Magnus Aronson/Ikon.
Photo: Magnus Aronson/Ikon.

Rev. Kimmo Kling, one of the Church of Sweden’s two national coordinators of the Duty Priest Service (Jourhavande präst), sees that the service continues to fulfil an incredibly important function in providing emergency support in a crisis – especially for people who are thinking of taking, or preparing to take, their own life.

“A single conversation can make the difference between death and life,” he says.

It was precisely in order to prevent suicide that the priest Erik Bernspång published a small advertisement in the southern Swedish newspaper Öresunds-Posten on 7 February 1956, with the words “Before you commit suicide, phone 90 000 to the priest”. That was the start of the Duty Priest Service, which began as local services. Today, all of the Church of Sweden’s 13 dioceses work together in the service, which has been organised at national level since 2008. The service provides emergency counselling that supplements the pastoral care offered in the parishes.

“For 65 years the Duty Priest Service has offered a protected space in which people can talk about what is important in life. We want to continue contributing to reducing feelings of guilt and shame among people who are struggling with serious and difficult thoughts. When you dare to put your feelings and thoughts into words, it can open up new opportunities,” says Kimmo Kling.

Since 2008 (when joint compilation of the statistics began) the number of answered calls has risen by 112%. In 2020 a total of 101,767 phone calls were answered, which means 279 calls per 24 hours, plus 57 contacts per evening via the internet chat function. In addition, on average four digital letters are received per 24 hours. Also see the attached statistics document including tables and graphs.

Read more: www.svenskakyrkan.se/jourhavandeprast (in Swedish only).

FACTS about the Duty Priest Service
The priests in the service work in the Church of Sweden’s parishes throughout Sweden. The priests have a duty of absolute confidentiality. The people who contact the service and the priests are totally anonymous.

The phone helpline is run in cooperation with the emergency number operator SOS Alarm and is reached by calling the emergency number 112. During the pandemic, the opening hours have been expanded: seven days a week 17:00–06:00 (ordinary opening hours 21:00–06:00). Your call is free and will not be shown on your telephone bill. Waiting time sometimes occurs. Both you and the priest are anonymous, and the call is not recorded.

The internet chat service is open seven days a week 20:00–24:00. Only you and the priest chat with each other. Nothing is saved. The content of the chat is encrypted and disappears when the chat is closed down or the chat time has ended.

The mailbox for digital letters is always open, and you receive a reply within 24 hours. Only you and the priest write to each other. The content is encrypted and disappears when you remove it or after 15 days. Nothing is saved.

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Images

Photo: Magnus Aronson/Ikon.
Photo: Magnus Aronson/Ikon.
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Svenska kyrkan
Svenska kyrkan
Kyrkokansliet
751 70 Uppsala

https://www.svenskakyrkan.se/

The Church of Sweden is a national church, open to everyone living in Sweden regardless of nationality. It is a place for church services, meetings and dialogue. The Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran church with 5,9 million members. There are 3500 churches in Sweden, and 13 dioceses.

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Collaborating and cooperating with other churches and organisations is at the core of the Church of Sweden´s international mission.  As a church, we are part of the worldwide community of churches.

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