OCMC News – Bringing Orthodoxy to the People: The Growing Church of Sweden
The Holy Metropolis of Sweden and All Scandinavia includes the nations of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Greenland. OCMC Executive Director, Fr. Martin Ritsi, recently traveled to visit with His Eminence Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia to discuss the vision for missionary work in the Scandinavian Orthodox Church. During his time in Sweden, Fr. Martin was able to gain a perspective on what His Eminence envisions for future ministries.
Currently, the Metropolis has eight communities, four of which have been started since His Eminence was enthroned. There are nine priests who serve at the parishes. For some time, there was only one priest serving by himself, but eight more clergy have been added during the last two years. A Ladies Philoptochos Society has been started as well as a youth group at the St. George Cathedral in Stockholm.
These have already led to ministries teaching Orthodox theology, Byzantine music classes, providing outreach, 16 adult baptisms of non-Christians, and 24 chrismations. Also, a monastery has been established in Sweden.
His Eminence has focused on many organizational tasks since his election on June 4, 2014, including administrative improvements, hiring for ecclesiastical and administrative positions, raising funds for the local churches, and much more.
Metropolitan Cleopas has a missionary vision; that is, he believes the Orthodox Church is meant to reach all people of every ethnicity and social standing. He is working to make Orthodoxy accessible to anyone curious about the Faith and seeks to faithfully pursue the calling to spread the Gospel to all nations.
There are several ministry elements that His Eminence would like to specifically focus on in outreach for the Scandinavian Metropolis. First and foremost: people. He hopes to receive missionaries and mission teams to provide ministry programs that will encourage people to come to the Faith. These ministries will be geared toward youth, the elderly, environmental consciousness, and the restoration and preservation of Orthodox historical sites, artifacts, and other cultural resources. Through these efforts, the Metropolis aims to become more of a presence in society and provide ways in which everyday life can be enriched through the Orthodox Church. Because of this, a camp and retreat center will be constructed, as well as churches and a museum of Hellenic Christian Heritage. These destinations will offer resources such as theological education to potential clergy, catechism for youth, and a tangible, historical presentation of the Orthodox Church.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center asks for your prayers for the quickly developing Church of the Metropolis of Sweden and All Scandinavia and the opportunities for missions that have arisen and will arise there in the future. Scandinavia is another place that the light of Orthodoxy is shining into. May Christ be with Metropolitan Cleopas in his loving outreach and mission efforts to the people in his Metropolis and beyond!
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Photo: His Eminence Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia speaking to the children at church.
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