Minutes, Congregational meeting 27 March 2022

Present: approx 135 people
Simultaneous interpreters: Tomas Eriksson & Marco Helles  

§ 1 Introduction

The Chair of the Board, Greger Hjelm, welcomed everyone to the Congregational Meeting and said a prayer for the meeting before declaring the meeting open. 

§ 2 Determining the Agenda 

Two other matters were added to the agenda and then the agenda was determined. 

§ 3 Election of Adjusters   

Kim Skoglund and Karin Pettersson were chosen to, along with the Chair of the Board adjust the minutes. 

§ 4 Brief information

a) The Chair of the Board presented a greeting from the Sister Church in Tartu in Estonia. A few representatives have been here on a visit and have also visited Löjtnantsgården. They send a warm greeting and a thank you for the loan they received for the old folks’ home they are going to build.

b) The Chair presented a greeting from Pastor Ulla Marie Gunner who had hoped to be able to join for the Congregational Meeting. She thanks everyone for their thoughts and prayers.

c) The Board has said yes to a new project in the Congregation. A five-year project under the name “Immanuel Production”. It is a way of organizing, documenting, and sharing songs and texts written by the Congregation’s Youth. The plan is also that the material is supposed to reach out to other Congregations.

d) Recruiting of a new Senior Pastor has begun and the Chair read a summary of the criteria that has been presented by the Fellowship Councils.

The Chair also informed that Pastor Claes-Göran Ydrefors is available as interim Senior Pastor after May 31st as well which the Board is very thankful for.

e) Other recruitment processes are:
– Interim Pastor, International Fellowship 100%
– Deacon 100%
– Pastor with focus on youth, Swedish Fellowship 100%
– Music Director 80-100%
– Husmor 75-100%

f) On Sunday April 24th there will be information stations for the upcoming Annual Meeting on May 15th. This is to open for questions surrounding the matters for the Annual Meeting so that the time at the meeting itself can be more effective. April 24th is also when the Ministry Evaluation Committee will present their suggestion for Board Members. 

§ 5 The situation in Ukraine 

Interim Senior Pastor Claes-Göran Ydrefors gave the Congregation an update on the refugee situation due to the war in Ukraine. The situation is different from 2015 when Immanuel Church worked as transit housing. At that point there were mainly young men fleeing from Syria and Afghanistan. Now it is mainly women and children who are coming. It is a completely different situation since these refugees are allowed to stay in the country. Immanuel Church could become transit housing this time as well, a few days a week. But it is much more difficult this time as the Church facilities do not work very well for children. 

Immanuel Church, Refugees Welcome, Ny Gemenskap and the Uniting Church of Sweden are cooperating through Sociala Missionen with the City of Stockholm. If you can help with housing, contact Pastor Anna Berndes. Management has decided to dedicate the offering and donate to the Uniting Church of Sweden’s catastrophe fund instead of a clothing drive. The Catastrophe fund has a working network in Ukraine as well as in Moldavia, that also receives many refugees. 

Claes-Göran pointed out that the situation can change on short notice and that new decisions in the refugee situation may need to be made. He encouraged the Congregation to donate to the refugee work. Claes-Göran is available if anyone has any questions on the matter. 

The Chair informed that the Board will create an action plan for the future as well as making a larger financial contribution into the catastrophe fund of the Uniting Church of Sweden. 

§ 6 The situation in the Congregation, encl. 1

The Chair mentioned the tension, friction and trust issues that exist in the Congregation, which have gained media attention in the past few weeks. The media are presenting this as a conflict and a crisis, which the Chair does not agree with. He views it as there being a need for dialogue. The Chair along with the interim Senior Pastor have answered the media on the basic values that the Congregation has and what Immanuel Church stands for. They have also written a document to the Congregation, which has been distributed in the meeting and read by the Chair (view encl. 1). 

The Chair raised the importance as an employee and trustee to stand behind and to represent the decisions that have been made, even if you yourself do not agree with them. He also mentioned the strong tradition within the Congregation and the democratic principles that exist in Sweden. Something that maybe is not so prominent in other countries and that is why it is important to inform how a member can make their voice heard. The democratic structure is central for Immanuel Church as a Congregation and as an organization. 

The Congregation discussed the document in small groups and the meeting was open for comments and questions. Several questions and comments were brought up surrounding Immanuel Church preaching Gods Word but that the interpretation of Gods word needs to be free for interpretation by each person. That the Congregation offers same sex marriage ceremonies since 2010. That the point of the Church is to come together, with different views, within the framework of the Congregation. That it is the place where different views meet. There is a platform for the Congregation through the constitution. It has been developed through many conversations within the Congregation before the Congregation voted upon it. The constitution is the base that the Congregation has. Trust in the Congregations’ chosen representatives is needed to be able to lead the Congregation with management and staff. 

The Chair thanked everyone for a good dialogue and that many had raised their comments and questions. 

§ 7 What do we want to do with the Congregation in relation to a joint “we”, encl. 2-5

The three Fellowship Councils received a task during the Congregational meeting on February 20th, 2022. To discuss what their goal is with the Congregation and aim towards a joint “we”. And to hold a presentation at this meeting. 

The Fellowship Councils had partially interpreted the task a little differently and all conclusions were read. 

The Congregation had a deep conversation where several members of the International Fellowship spoke up. The conversation was surrounding the demarcations and what happens if they are not followed if the aim is to put common first and the importance of respect and love. And that the fellowship in the different language groups does exist also without a leading pastor. A member also made a very clear and personal comment on the life of the Congregation and HBTQ. 

The Chair thanked everyone for the conversation, which he hopes will be able to be continued at another time. 

§ 8 Other Matters 

a) Event in the calendar
A member of the Congregation had mentioned that there was something wrong in the calendar, which was correct, and has been taken care of.

b) The election process, encl. 6
A member of the congregation had shared their thoughts on the Congregation’s election process. Which elections the Congregation makes and which elections that are done by the Board and Management.  

§ 9 Conclusion

The Chair thanked the Congregation for participating in the Congregational Meeting. Pastor Claes-Göran Ydrefors said a closing prayer and the Chair of the Board closed the meeting. 

Secretary: Cathrin Sjöström 

Adjusters: Greger Hjelm, Chair of the Board, Kim Skoglund and Karin Pettersson