Confessional Lutheran Pastor Defrocked in Sweden

HT: Chris Barnekov of Scandinavia House

Leading Swedish Confessional Pastor Defrocked for Support of Mission Province

The consistory of Lund Diocese has declared Pastor Jan-Erik Appell no longer authorized to serve as a pastor in the Church of Sweden.  Pastor Appell is retired after nearly 40 years of faithful service.  A complaint was filed by an anonymous accuser over his current service on behalf of a Mission Province congregation in Kristianstad, in the southern Sweden’s Skåne (Scania) province.   The decision, rendered March 14 was published yesterday, March 22.  Pastor Jan-Erik Appell is chairman of the board of Kyrkliga Förbundet (The Church Federation), which sponsors the Lutheran School of Theology in Gothenburg, the Gothenburg Lutheran High school, the Confessional weekly magazine Church and People, and other leading Confessional Lutheran institutions in Sweden.

For the past twenty years, the Church of Sweden (CoS) has pursued a strategy of isolating and marginalizing its small confessional remnant.  New ordinations of confessional men have been blocked since 1993.  The politicians who control CoS planned that Confessional pastors would simply die off and not be replaced.  The establishment in 2005 of the Mission Province jeopardized this strategy by reopening a path to ordination for confessional candidates.  In fact, two of the first Mission Province pastors ordained were Jan-Erik Appell’s sons, David and Jakob Appell.  The Rev. Jakob Appell is well known in America as a S.T.M. graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary and as chairman of Corpus Christi, the pan-Scandinavian Confessional Lutheran youth movement patterned after Higher Things.

For seven years, CoS and the Swedish media have attempted to isolate and silence the Mission Province by ignoring the movement, hoping it would fade away.  Lately, apparently in response to pressures from impatient radicals, CoS has embarked on a strategy of more active persecution.  In addition to the action against Pastor Appell, Bishop Per Eckedal of Gothenburg Diocese recently issued a letter to all pastors in the diocese warning that involvement in Mission Province congregations or koinonias would be grounds for being defrocked.  Pastors in that diocese are only beginning to respond, some challenging the legality or accuracy of the bishop’s interpretation of Swedish church law – which has not previously found involvement in such movements problematic, at least since repeal of the Swedish conventicle acts in the mid-1800s.

The formal accusation against Pastor Appell is that, by engaging with the Mission Province congregation, he has violated his ordination vow to obey the church ordinance (kyrkoordning).  It is at least unclear that such involvement actually does violate the kyrkoordning.  Meanwhile CoS ignores leftist pastors who openly flaunt their rejection of the faith, doctrine and confession that they vowed at their ordinations they would keep.  In a recent case, “Pastor” Ulla Karlsson was not defrocked even though she denied the existence of sin or the need for atonement, and demanded an end to “talk of slain lambs” (Karlsson has since resigned, complaining that she felt offended that her colleagues did not agree with her views, but she was not defrocked by CoS).

In other news, it was also announced today that the CoS appeals board has reversed the defrocking of a pastor who had sexually harassed a young girl on Facebook, and about whom several women had complained that he had behaved inappropriately in an Internet “chat room.”  It was reported that this pastor had received “professional help” and the appeals board felt he should have been given a chance to apologize before the consistory rather than being defrocked.  After all, this pastor had not done anything really offensive, such as serve a Mission Province koinonia.
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Coverage (in Swedish) in Dagen and (in Swedish) in Kyrkans Tidning

Defrocking of sexual abuser reversed (in Swedish), Kyrkans Tidning

 

7 thoughts on “Confessional Lutheran Pastor Defrocked in Sweden”

  1. When a pastor joins what is in fact another churchbody, he shouldn’t expect to continue as a pastor in his old churchbody. The Mission Province itself accepts this principle, when it in it’s latst “sändebrev” announces, that it has “granted” that Anders Strindberc can serve a reformed-epsicopal church, while stille being a pastor in the Mission Province.

    I don’t think it is right to give the impression, that the Church of Sweden is somehow persecuting confessional lutherans, when the fact is, that it is merely using its religious freedom to set the boundaries for being a psytor in the Swedish Church. The problem is rather that the conservatives in the Swedish Churh haven’t done, what they should and left the Church of Sweden. It is a shame that the Church of Sweden is doing to the conservatives, what they should have done to the Church of Sweden many years ago.

    1. Oh, I’m sure he’s not totally wrong. Who is? But he’s not totally right, either, and on this particular question I think is less right and more wrong. But I’ve told him that in the past, and won’t rehearse the same arguments.

      1. If we look on what Magnus Sörensen here above has written, one could say that the first part or paragraph has a serious question, which has to be answered and not neglected.
        When we read the following paragraph we could say that the Swedish Church leaders haven´t the moral right to do what they do, because they are formal bound to the Scripture and Confession. But on the other hand it isn’t correct to act as these people in any rate stay at the Confession. If these leaders in reality are heretics – we should avoid their sacral fellowship. Something is fully out of order – if only they say no to us – and we are avoiding the words “no and not”. We are talking about issues concerning the Church Fellowship as a whole not only for example about female priests.

      2. I don’t think you gave any arguments against my claim, that the Mission Province is in fact a new churchbody. You just referred me to a statement about the finnish Luther Foundation, so it would not be a rehearse, if you defended this case now.

        1. Yes The Luther Foundation in Finland has obviously the same big trouble to describe the situation correctly.

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