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Missionsprovinsen i Sverige

Mission Province in Sweden’s first bishop enters into glory

Bishop Arne Olsson.

SWEDEN – The Mission Province (Missionsprovinsen i Sverige – MP) in Sweden is mourning the death of their first bishop, Arne Olsson, who entered into glory on March 12, 2024. He was 93 years old.

Bishop Olsson was first ordained in 1962 and served much of his ministry as a pastor in the Church of Sweden (SK). He was consecrated as the Mission Province’s first bishop on February 5, 2005 by Bishop Walter Obare of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya. In response, the Church of Sweden disqualified him from further service in the SK. The Mission Province was initially founded as a confessional movement within the Church of Sweden, serving as a refuge for pastoral candidates who continued to uphold the authority of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

Bishop Olsson led the Mission Province from 2005-2010, overseeing the expansion of its work in Sweden as well as into Finland. He completed his service on March 27, 2010, when he consecrated Bishop Roland Gustafsson as his successor.

Bishop Arne Olsson at his consecration in 2005.

Asked once what he considered the Mission Province’s most important issue, Bishop Olsson said simply: “That Jesus Christ is proclaimed to the people of Sweden. There are so many who do not get to hear about Jesus.”

“We remember with gratitude his devoted service during a very important part of the history of the Mission Province,” said current MP Bishop Bengt Ådahl. “His motto ‘To obey God more than men’ testifies to the loyalty and love for the Lord that drove him.”

Bishop Ådahl has invited church members to remember Bishop Olsson’s wife, children, and their families in prayer at this time of grief.

“We thank the Lord for Bishop Arne and shine peace on his memory,” he concluded. “May he rest in peace and rise in glory!”


20 Years for the Mission Province in Sweden

Delegates gather for the Mission Province in Sweden’s 2023 Provincial Convention.
Bishop Bengt Ådahl of the Mission Province in Sweden.

SWEDEN – On October 28, 2023, the Mission Province (Missionsprovinsen – MP) in Sweden celebrated its 20th anniversary at an event in Tuve, Gothenburg. The event came at the conclusion of 2023’s Provincial Convention, which brought together clergy and lay representatives from congregations across the country.

MP Bishop Bengt Ådahl opened the convention on October 27, and business sessions took place that evening and the next morning. Among other business, the Mission Province discussed work in Israel; clarified the role of the diocesan priest; and conducted elections for the MP’s Mission Council.

Anniversary celebrations followed the conclusion of business sessions, with Bishop Emeritus Risto Soramies of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (Suomen evankelisluterilainen Lähetyshiippakunta – ELMDF) giving a guest lecture. Bishop Soramies spoke on the nature of confession and the characteristics of the Church. A lecture by Bishop Thor Henrik With of the Evangelical-Lutheran Diocese in Norway (Det evangelisk-lutherske stift i Norge – DELSIN) followed. Bishop With spoke on “Una Sancta: Gift and Task in the Tension between Multiculturalism and Individualism.”

ELMDF Bishop Emeritus Risto Soramies.
DELSIN Bishop Thor Henrik With.

Greetings from other church leaders were also received, including from Bishop Hans Jönsson on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (Latvijas Evaņģēliski luteriskā baznīca – LELB). Bishop Jönsson is originally from Sweden.

The anniversary celebrations drew to a close with a communion service led by Bishop Ådahl.

The Mission Province was founded in 2003 as a confessional movement within the state Church of Sweden. Its first bishop was Arne Olsson, who was consecrated by Bishop Walter Obare of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK) in 2005. In 2010, Bishop Arne was succeeded by Bishop Roland Gustafsson. The Mission Province would go on to play an important role in the establishment of the ELMDF in Finland and DELSIN in Norway, with the three dioceses enjoying close relations to this day. Bishop Gustaffson was succeeded in 2019 by Bishop Ådahl.

After many years of friendly relations, the Mission Province in Sweden was accepted into membership in the International Lutheran Council (ILC) in 2018. The ILC is a global association of Confessional Lutheran churches that proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of an unconditional commitment to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.


German Lutherans declare fellowship with six new church bodies

SELK Bishop Voigt (far right) greets (front l-r) DELSin Bishop With, ELMDF Bishop Soramies, and AALC Presiding Pastor Leins following the vote to recognize fellowship. (Photo: Dörte Pape via DELSiN.)

GERMANY – The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche) held its 14th National Church Synod from May 21-26, 2019 in Balhorn, Germany, during which time the church declared fellowship with six church bodies from Europe, North America, and South America.

The SELK’s new fellowship partners include the American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC), the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina (IELA), the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF), the Lutheran Church Synod of Nicaragua (ILSN), the Evangelical-Lutheran Diocese in Norway (DELSiN), and the Mission Province in Sweden. (The Mission Province still needs to ratify the agreement with SELK before fellowship between the two churches will take effect.)

SELK also declared fellowship with Concordia Fellowship, an Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Celle, Germany.

“It’s a joy to recognize fellowship with our brothers and sisters around the world,” noted SELK Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt. “We look forward to nurturing the growing relationships between our various church bodies, and looking for new opportunities for cooperation and partnership in our proclamation of the Gospel.”

The resolution to declare fellowship was followed by a standing ovation and a hymn of thanksgiving. The heads of three of the new partner church bodies—Bishop Thor Henrik With (DELSiN), Bishop Risto Soramies (ELMDF), and Presiding Pastor Curtis Leins (AALC)—were all on hand for the event.

SELK’s 2019 Synod met under the theme: “Good News in a Fake News World. Speakers for the event were Professor Dr. Christian Neddens (Oberursel, Germany) and Rev. Dr. Robert Kolb (St. Louis, Missouri). Among other business, the church accepted a new document from SELK’s Theological Commission on “The Lutheran Church and Judaism,” discussed the role of women in the church, and conducted elections for various boards and commissions.

SELK, the AALC, IELA, ELMDF, ILSN, DELSiN, and the Mission Province are all members of the International Lutheran Council, a growing association of confessional Lutheran churches around the world.


Swedish Lutherans consecrate new bishop

Bishop Bengt Ådahl (centre right holding a crosier) of the Mission Province of Sweden, along with church leaders who participated in his consecration.

Bishop Bengt Ådahl.

SWEDEN – On April 27, 2019 Rev. Bengt Ådahl was consecrated as bishop of the Mission Province in Sweden at a festive service in Gothenburg.

Bishop Ådahl was installed by Bishop Roland Gustafsson, who has retired after nine years of service leading the Mission Province. Assisting Bishop Gustafsson were Bishops Göran Beijer and Lars Artman, as well as the Mission Province’s first Bishop Arne Olsson.

Also participating in the service were Bishop Thor Henrik With of the Evangelical-Lutheran Diocese in Norway, Bishop Risto Soramies of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, and Bishop Hans Jönsson bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia.

Bishop Ådahl introduced his personal episcopal mission with the encouragement to “Look to Jesus,” drawing on Hebrews 12:2. “In all true Christianity, Jesus Christ is at the centre,” he explained. For this reason, Jesus must remain the centre of all Christian faith and practice. He must remain central in our individual lives. He must remain central in our understanding of Scripture. And He must remain central in the life of the Church.

“It is tempting,” he acknowledged, to follow “what is politically correct, what is liked in media coverage, to feel out which way the wind is blowing right now.”

Bishop Ådahl is consecrated.

“But it is fatal,” he warned. Instead, he said, “we must look to Jesus, search into His Word. We shall be faithful to and adhere to everything that He has shown and made clear to us in His Word. This is precisely what the Lord expects of us: to remain faithful to Himself, to His Word, faithful to the doctrines and confessions of the Church.”

This challenging call to stand firm on Christ and His Word is one the Mission Province in Sweden knows only too well. The Mission was founded first as a reform group within the Church of Sweden in 2003 by those attempting to remain faithful to the Scriptures while the state church increasingly secularized. Their first bishop, Arne Olsson, was installed in 2005. The Church of Sweden responded by defrocking Bishop Olsson.

The state church has continued to punish those holding confessional views, barring confessional candidates from ordination. One of those barred from ordination by the state Church of Sweden was in attendance at the consecration of Bishop Ådahl—Bishop Hans Jönsson, who was subsequently welcomed into the Latvian church and made a bishop there in 2016.

The Mission Province in Sweden is a member of the Communion of Nordic Lutheran Dioceses, together with the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland and the Evangelical-Lutheran Diocese in Norway. In 2018, the Mission Province and the other members of the Communion of Nordic Dioceses became members of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies. During that time, Bishop Emeritus Roland Gustafsson announced his intention to retire as head of Mission Province, having successfully brought the church into membership with the ILC.


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