“Excluding Russian Church from Swedisch Church Council will not make a difference”


Northern Europe


Orthodox Church. Photo EPA, Manuel Fernando Araãšjo

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, voices were raised to exclude the Russian Orthodox Church from Sweden’s Christian Council (SKR). However, in practice, such a decision would not make a major difference since the community has not participated in SKR’s meetings for several years.

The Swedish Christian Council member churches are divided into four church families: the Free Church, the Catholic church, the Lutheran church, and the Orthodox church. The Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) belongs to the latter group. However, according to Misha Jaksic, coordinator of the orthodox churches within SKR, the Russians are only passive members. He says so in Swedish daily Dagen. “Since they called home the parish’s pastor in 2010, the church has in principle not participated in the council’s work.”

According to Jaksic, a priest in the Greek Antioch Orthodox Church, the current Russian pastor only speaks Russian. That makes ecumenical work difficult.

Membership fees

SKR’s latest annual report shows that only 10 of the 16 member churches that are part of the Orthodox church family paid their membership fee in 2020. The Russian Orthodox Church was one of them. The membership fees are around 6 million Kroner, or 600,000 euros.

For many years, the unwillingness to pay has been a major concern for SKR, states Misha Jaksic. He says that the lack of commitment to SKR’s work also characterises large parts of the church family he is responsible for, with an exemption of the Syrian Orthodox Church.

According to Jaksic, the other churches “do not consider themselves to have time for ecumenism or competence to talk about, for example, migration or climate change.” “It’s probably wrong to call me a coordinator; there is not much to coordinate. I’m probably more of an advisor.”

According to Jaksic, the current situation asks for any form of dialogue, and exclusion from the Russian Orthodox Church would be counterproductive.

The Swedish Christian Council is a meeting place for the country’s church leaders. The churches exchange ideas, create networks, provide communication services and support ecumenical development activities.



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