The Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden acknowledged a formal relationship on two occasions in 2015: at the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City on June 28; and on November 18 in Uppsala at the General Synod of the Church of Sweden. These celebrations followed both churches’ reception of a Report on the Grounds for Future Relations between the Church of Sweden and the Episcopal Church prepared by the ecumenical offices of both churches with the assistance of church historians.
The report acknowledged a long history of shared church work and life between Swedish Lutherans and Episcopalians, beginning in the colonial period and extending to the present. It also identified the following areas of common mission going forward:
1. In practical work in parishes of the Episcopal Church’s Convocation of Europe and the Church of Sweden Abroad in Europe, where they may share similar challenges as expatriate congregations. In this context there may also be occasions when one church’s members can find a spiritual home in the other, if there is no parish of their own church in the vicinity.
2. In tripartite areas of interest as and when they arise in relation to common partners:
3. In issues of common concern in the strategy and programmatic work of the World Council of Churches.
4. In specific questions which the two churches prioritize, i.e. climate change, peace, gender justice, etc.
The report noted:
The proposal is not that a new ecumenical agreement on communion between these two churches be written, such as has been the case between a number of Lutheran and Anglican churches. Both the present churches are party to such agreements. Rather this document intends to show that there are historical and contemporary reasons for claiming that the two churches have in practice lived in fellowship with each other at various times, and therefore can be understood to do so today. This is a fact that we wish to acknowledge and celebrate, as the basis for closer cooperation where suitable in the future.
Katharine Jefferts Schori, twenty-sixth Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, encouraged the process leading to the report and its reception, noting that “This is a living partnership which will undoubtedly grow far deeper in coming years, particularly in this season in ministry with migrants, where we meet Jesus in the other.”
Anglicans and Lutherans also enjoy warm relations internationally through the Porvoo Communion of Europe-based churches. (The Episcopal Church is not a part of the Porvoo Communion.)