Leading Swedish Confessional Pastor Defrocked for Support of Mission Province

The consistory of Lund Diocese has declared Pastor Jan-Erik Appell no longer authorized to serve as a pastor in the Church of Sweden. Pastor Appell is retired after nearly 40 years of faithful service. A complaint was filed by an anonymous accuser over his current service on behalf of a Mission Province congregation in Kristianstad, in southern Sweden’s Skåne (Scania) province. The decision, rendered March 14 was published yesterday, March 22. Pastor Jan-Erik Appell is chairman of the board of Kyrkliga Förbundet (The Church Federation), which sponsors the Lutheran School of Theology in Gothenburg, the Gothenburg Lutheran High school, the Confessional weekly magazine Church and People, and other leading Confessional Lutheran institutions in Sweden.

For the past twenty years, the Church of Sweden (CoS) has pursued a strategy of isolating and marginalizing its small confessional remnant. New ordinations of confessional men have been blocked since 1993. The politicians who control CoS planned that Confessional pastors would simply die off and not be replaced. The establishment in 2005 of the Mission Province jeopardized this strategy by reopening a path to ordination for confessional candidates. In fact, two of the first Mission Province pastors ordained were Jan-Erik Appell’s sons, David and Jakob Appell. The Rev. Jakob Appell is well known in America as a S.T.M. graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary and as chairman of Corpus Christi, the pan-Scandinavian Confessional Lutheran youth movement patterned after Higher Things.

For seven years, CoS and the Swedish media have attempted to isolate and silence the Mission Province by ignoring the movement, hoping it would fade away. Lately, apparently in response to pressures from impatient radicals, CoS has embarked on a strategy of more active persecution. In addition to the action against Pastor Appell, Bishop Per Eckedal of Gothenburg Diocese recently issued a letter to all pastors in the diocese warning that involvement in Mission Province congregations or koinonias would be grounds for being defrocked. Pastors in that diocese are only beginning to respond, some challenging the legality or accuracy of the bishop’s interpretation of Swedish church law — which has not previously found involvement in such movements problematic, at least since repeal of the Swedish conventicle acts in the mid-1800s.

The formal accusation against Pastor Appell is that, by engaging with the Mission Province congregation, he has violated his ordination vow to obey the church ordinance (kyrkoordning). It is at least unclear that such involvement actually does violate the kyrkoordning. Meanwhile CoS ignores leftist pastors who openly flaunt their rejection of the faith, doctrine and confession that they vowed at their ordinations they would keep. In a recent case, “Pastor” Ulla Karlsson was not defrocked even though she denied the existence of sin or the need for atonement, and demanded an end to “talk of slain lambs” (Karlsson has since resigned, complaining that she felt offended that her colleagues did not agree with her views, but she was not defrocked by CoS).

In other news, it was also announced today that the CoS appeals board has reversed the defrocking of a pastor who had sexually harassed a young girl on Facebook, and about whom several women had complained that he had behaved inappropriately in an Internet “chat room.” It was reported that this pastor had received “professional help” and the appeals board felt he should have been given a chance to apologize before the consistory rather than being defrocked. After all, this pastor had not done anything truly offensive, such as serve a Mission Province koinonia.

Coverage (in Swedish) in Dagen:http://www.dagen.se/dagen/article.aspx?id=302992

And (in Swedish) in Kyrkans Tidning: http://www.kyrkanstidning.se/inrikes/anmalningarna-har-okat-dramatiskt

Defrocking of sexual abuser reversed (in Swedish), Kyrkans Tidning: http://www.kyrkanstidning.se/inrikes/avkragad-prast-far-kragen-tillbaka