This morning I went to the main 11am service at Katarina Kyrka, the nearest (or equal nearest) Svenska Kyrkan (Church of Sweden) church to me on Södermalm. I have another picture of it, from way back, here.
Actually, the nearest church to me is Sofia Kyrka, on the hill in the park down the road from me, which is a gorgeous building, but sadly currently closed for renovations. The congregation is meeting at another church a bit further away for now. But Katarina is just 10 minutes walk away.
I've been reading up on the C of S, and so far have liked what I've seen. They have women bishops, and perform same-sex marriages, and have a strong focus on social justice and development issues. They're just now having a theme week across Södermalm on Hunger, physical and spiritual.
They're also, despite being a Lutheran church, quiet catholic in some ways. See, they had a somewhat different history to the German Lutheran churches, coming into being when King Gustav Vasa decided that the Swedish church would no longer accept the authority of Rome. A little like in England, except it was over the Pope refusing his choice of bishops, rather than wanting an annullment. Then latest they adopted the Lutheran credo. But they still have bishops, and indeed can claim Apostolic Succession (though they don't seem to make a thing of that), they have a fairly liturgical structure to some services (my hymn book had liturgies for various types of service, including a 'high mass' (Högmässa), which would not be that unfamiliar to an Anglican, say), and they have a strong adherence to the liturgical year. The church had candles and a crucifix in it. They also, so I'm told, have a 'high' church end. I talked to a guy at work who goes to the Svenska Kyrka (though he's American), and who knows a priest in the C of S, and he'll ask about the different congregations in Stockholm for me.
Also, they are in full communion with the Church of England as part of the Porvoo Communion.
Anyway, to the service. This one was somewhat freer form, but I'm OK with that sometimes at any rate. Started off with a Taizé chant. Good, and varied music - some congregational hymns, some by the choir (who were very good), a guy with a guitar singing a couple of songs in English - one was a rather bluesy-country version of Amazing Grace, the other I couldn't understand very well despite it being in English, but nice tune. The 'Behold the Lamb of God' from Handel's Messiah by the choir at communion. The one minus point on the music is that the congregation remained seated for all the hymns.
Good sermon. Ironically, it was a fairly Mary-themed service, being the feast of the Annunciation. They had a girl of about the right age (i.e. early teens) reading out the Gospel. Which was at the start of the service, after the opening hymn. Like I said, quite free-form. Generally understood most of what was going on in Swedish.
I received communion. I asked one of the stewards beforehand if it was OK to, as a Christian but not a member of the C of S, and she replied "You are most welcome", which I count as a definite plus over the RC attitude (though I sort of understand it).
After the service they served brunch in the parish hall. Very nice soup. The people at the table I sat at actually talked to me, which is astonishing considering this is Sweden, and specifically Stockholm.
I will not yield to the temptation to give it marks out of 10, as that is not the right attitude. Generally positive vibes, not entirely sure if it is where I will stay. There are other C of S churches to try, and I will also try the English Church (Anglican) in Stockholm, and perhaps the Methodists. Perhaps the English Church last, want to get a feel for the ones in Swedish, as if I start going to services in English I'll get lazy and stick with that.
So, thus begins my new adventures in catholicy-protestantism.
And just something to leave you with. The Porvoo Communion has a Porvoo Research Network, or PoReNe. Srsly. Oh dear. Now I've got "The internet is for..." in my head. I am so going to hell.