The Lutheran World Federation congratulated the newly elected head of the Church of Sweden last week after a final and determinative round of elections.
Bishop Anders H. Wejryd, who was elected the Archbishop of Uppsala, was the first head of the Swedish Lutheran church to be appointed by the church itself. Prior to the change of relations between the church and state in 2000, all bishops were appointed by the government. According to the Church of Sweden, Wejryd received 176 out of a possible 320 votes against 127 for Bishop Ragnar Persenius in the final and determinative round of elections.
Congratulating Archbishop-elect Wejryd, LWF’s general secretary, the Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, said the election was significant not only for the Swedish church, the largest LWF member church – with over 6.9 million members – but also ecumenically, according to Lutheran World Information, LWF's information service.
In the new archbishop-elect, the Church of Sweden would have a person who "will bring to his ministry deep knowledge of peoples' concerns and difficulties," Noko said in a statement issued last Friday.
"Out of deep commitment to service based on faith in Christ, he will seek to address these concerns in our globalized and rapidly changing world."
According to LWI, the general secretary cited Wejryd's ecumenical experience, and contribution to the LWF especially as a Council member and chairperson of the LWF Project Committee, both of which focus on a broad range of activities in which the Lutheran churches worldwide cooperate.
Through this committee, Noko noted, Wejryd "has challenged us to see our calling as a communion of churches: to be a tool for building just, inclusive, participatory and self-sustaining communities, bringing positive change to people's lives in many parts of the world."
The LWF head also paid tribute to the contribution of Archbishop Hammar who has led the Church of Sweden through a significant phase of change, particularly to its current autonomous structure. As chairperson of LWF Program Committee for Ecumenical Affairs, 1997-2003, Hammar contributed "very substantially to the ecumenical work and profile of the Federation," Noko stated.
The general secretary said he looked forward to cooperating with the new archbishop as the LWF prepares for its 60th anniversary celebrations to be held in March 2007 in the Swedish city of Lund, where the LWF was founded in 1947.
The archbishop-elect will be installed on Sept. 2, 2006 in Uppsala.