The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A growing church in Sweden's Silicon Valley

In the years after World War II, Sweden’s socialist leaders—men like Tage Erlander and his successor Olof Palme—dreamed of creating a “great society”: idealistic, egalitarian and prosperous. They saw no place for the Lutheran church in their utopian vision. The state would look after everything.

Worshipers in a Lutheran parish in
Worshipers in a Lutheran parish in the Kista neighborhood of Stockholm, Sweden, buck national trends of falling attendance. Kista residents come from a variety of countries and denominations, and 50 percent to 60 percent of this parish’s worshipers are immigrants. This joint service with the Salvation Army includes both ethnic Swedes and Eritrean Coptic Christians.
Things turned out very differently. Kista, a Stockholm neighborhood, illustrates why. Built in the 1970s, Kista was to be Sweden’s Silicon Valley, headquarters for a burgeoning information technology industry. Along with factories, a “new town” was constructed with low-level architecture intended to create a more human environment.

Today the utopian dreams are dead. An office high-rise in the factory area is largely empty because, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, no one wants to work in such a landmark. As for the “new town,” it’s looking decidedly worn, home to large numbers of immigrants and plagued with crime and vandalism.

Yet in this seemingly unlikely environment, a Lutheran parish is thriving, bucking the national trend of falling attendance and taking on an important role in the life of the community.

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February issue


Embracing diversity