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Swedish Methodists join new denomination

by Neill Caldwell
May 1, 2012

During its ecumenical night on Tuesday, the 2012 General Conference released the Methodist church in Sweden to free that church to help start a new denomination there.

Last June three Swedish denominations – the Swedish Methodist Church, the Swedish Mission Church, and the Swedish Baptist Union – voted to unite together under the name Common Future. The new denomination has 70,000 members and 850 congregations.

A Methodist pastor is the sole nominee to lead the new denomination. The Rev. Lars Svensson was introduced to General Conference delegates and said he was “representing a new church in the world. Three founding denominations in Sweden have decided that this is best done by joining forces. I want to extend a sincere and heartfelt thanks to The United Methodist Church,” said Svensson. “We are facing the future for the sake of God and mankind. Pray for us as we continue to pray for you. … The best of all is that God is with us.”

Bishop Christian Alsted of the Nordic and Baltic Central Conferences praised Methodists in Sweden as a leader in ecumenism, “a bridge-builder in ecumenical relationships.”

The Nordic Central Conference voted its support of the process, as did all 11 annual conferences in the Nordic Central Conference, Alsted said.

Bishop Sharon Rader introduced additional guests from other the World Methodist Council, the World and National Council of Churches, church leaders and those of other faiths. The Rev. John McCullough was honored as the 2012 recipient of ecumenical award from Council of Bishops (see related story).