At this moment many of the blogs I read and news sources are clogged up with angst about the Church of England following its failure to approve women bishops. I’ve got no bone in this fight as I’m not an Anglican and wouldn’t have bishops, priests and certainly not a synod.
But all players in this fight might start looking at the experience of Sweden and not everyone will like what they see. The Swedish Lutheran Church was up until 2000 a state church like the CofE and several decades ago had its battle over the ordination of women.
In 1957 the church rejected women’s ordination, so the Swedish government changed the law in 1958 which forced the church’s hand. By 1960 women were being ordained as priests. For conservative evangelicals and the Catholic wing of the CofE it’s what happened in 1994 though that should make them tremble. Then the tide truly turned and those who opposed working with women priests were refused ordination.
The Swedish Church is a pretty liberal lot and, for example they approved same-sex weddings in 2009 and has clergy and bishops who are in homosexual relationships.
None of which has done anything to halt the statistical fall to its death. In 1972 95% of Sweden were officially members of the church and today it’s 68% and attendance figures nationally hover around the 2% and far less in liberal Stockholm.