Theme: Geography: 

Religious Divisions 

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QUICK FACTS on DIVISION of the Swedish State Church

  • The King of Sweden was the head of the Swedish State Church from Gustav Wasa (1500) until 2000-01-01. The religious head of church is the Ärkebiskop (Archbishop)
  • Sweden is divided into 13 stift (dioceses), each headed by a biskop (bishop).
  • Each stift is divided into several kontrakt (sim. to rural deanery), headed by a kontraktsprost (dean)
  • Each kontrakt is divided into pastorat = prästgäll (sim to benefice / district), headed by a kyrkoherde (vicar / rector)
  • The smallest unit is a församling (plural: församlingar) (parish). There is usually only one church in each församling.
  • If a församling is subdivided (common in cities) the central one is called moderförsamling (mother parish) and the others annexförsamling (annex parishes).
  • There has been about 2 500 församlingar in Sweden. The creation of these go back to the arrival of Christianity in Sweden in 800 - 1000 A.D. In a 1952 revision many smaller församlingar were incorporated into larger ones. Another revision in 2002 further reduced the number.

 

Sections
Stift Kontrakt Pastorat Församling Guide
Section Quick guide
Overview All this is about Svenska kyrkan (the Swedish State Church).
It is Evangelical-Lutheran and its more formal organization stems from the 16th century "Reformation" when King Gustaf Wasa confiscated all church assets and placed himself as the head of the church. All Swedish citizens were members by law until 1860. In 1980 96% of the population were members. As of 2000 the state and the church are divorced :-).
Overview published by the DDB (more details) .
>Go>
Stift The largest religious division. 13 stift (sing=plur) (diocese), largely unchanged since the Reformation. Each is headed by a biskop (bishop). The ruling body is the domkapitel (). It has religious jurisdiction only and deal mostly with matters of the church, priests etc. It has no legal power over individual people except as members of the church.
Stift are named after the city where the biskop resides. Geographically it covers 1-3 landskap but there is no formal link between the two division principles.
Stift is usually of no consequence for genealogists, more so for church historians.
Kontrakt Each stift is subdivided into several kontrakt (similar to a rural deanery), headed by a kontraktsprost or simply prost (dean).
You normally do not need to know the kontrakt to find a parish - most searches and sorting is done by parish name.
Pastorat Each kontrakt is subdivided into several pastorat (sing=plur) also named prästgäll (similar to benefice / district), headed by a kyrkoherde (vicar / rector).
You normally do not need to know the pastorat to find a parish - most searches and sorting is done by parish name.
Församling The smallest religious division. (plural: församlingar) (parish). The word means a group of people, referring to the group of people using the same church. The absolute majority of församlingar are defined by a geographical area but a few are virtual - defined by a common "interest", e.g. regiments and prisons. There is usually only one church in each församling.
Every församling belongs to a pastorat but when the pastorat contains only one församling then both pastorat and församling refer to the same unit.
If a pastorat is subdivided (common in cities) the central one is called moderförsamling (abridged moder, = mother parish) and the others annexförsamling (annex parishes).

Stadsförsamling (sfg) = City parish (as opposed to the surrounding rural area = landsförsamling)
Landsförsamling (lfg)
= Rural parish (as opposed to a corresponding stadsförsamling)
Domkyrkoförsamling (dkfg)
= Cathedral parish
Slottsförsamling (slottsfg) = Parish covering a castle

Bruksförsamling (bruksfg) = a parish mainly covering the area and people of a bruk (factory).

There has been about 2 500 församlingar in Sweden. The creation of these go back to the establishment of Christianity in Sweden in the 13th century but the borders were probably defined long before that as local communities. 
In a 1952 revision many smaller församlingar were incorporated into larger ones and the total number was greatly reduced.
In archives the incorporated församlingar are referred to by their old names so it presents no search problem.

The civil division socken almost always refers to the same area and carries the same name.

Until the reorganization in 1862 the parish was governed by the sockenstämma. After that the kyrkostämma (later kyrkoråd) took over but dealing only with church issues. Kommunalstämma took over the civil issues.

 

Special Guide for this subject.
Topic Comments
Know only parish name - need localization Use Ctrl-F for parish name here (S) or here (B)
Know (län +) kommun, not parish Select län, then Ctrl-F for kommun here (E) or here (S). Scroll the list.
Know kommun name - need all församlingar within församlingar by kommun (S)
Need församling records availability Use Ctrl-F for parish name here (S)
Need församling division details or pastorat connection Use Ctrl-F for parish name here (S)
Can't find parish Check spelling / use alternative spellings. You must use diacritics on Swe sites. Use search engines here.
Searched but still not found parish Check special parishes . Ceased parishes (S)  OFF LINE
Person Not found in an annex parish Check the mother parish. Find that here
How to use some map sites SweGGate Guide

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Last updated by F Hae 2005-05-28 23:23 © Fredrik Haeffner, 2001-4