Every fourth citizen in that municipality is of foreign decent and employment rate among them is 62%, to be compared with the 42,7% average in the nation.
As I read the articles of the different papers reporting about this phenomenon I was reminded of the rather scaring reality of lack of integration as is found in the Christian Church in Sweden.
Most probably we find that 11.00 am is the most segregated hour of the week among Christians. With the rapid changes in our society and the influx of immigrants among us, many Christians from a number of African, Eastern Europe, Asian and South American nations have established themselves in our nations and have started many different ethnic churches to worship together and to meet the needs of fellowship they were (are) experiencing. While many of them (like in Gnosjö) are integrated in society, through jobs, schooling, and other social networks we find that, most often, the Swedish churches seemed to be places where time has stood still. The “middle class traditional Svensson church” which is still living in the midst of last century is still the face of Christianity to the outside world while our society has changed drastically!
My inner conviction is that the Church has to reflect the reality of society in which it is established. If there is one place where the walls between peoples and cultures could (should) be eliminated it should be the Church! If there is one place in our nation where bridges could be build between peoples and cultures it should be the Church! Jesus Christ has broken down the walls between us and God and us and each other, yet, so many of us Christians, all in our little groups and too often on the fringes of society seem to huddle together in search for security and cultural oneness instead of exposing ourselves to the tremendous manifold wisdom and diversity of God as expressed to the people whom He created in His image!
A church which does not reflect that reality and diversity is for me not a trustworthy church (unless located in places where there is no cultural diversity, or, when as exception if there is no opportunity to relate in each others language which can be the case with first generation immigrants).
In the Focus article mentioned above, the heading expresses it so well: “All are needed in Gnosjö”! If we in the Christian Church only understood the importance of this and were more inclusive and inviting to brothers and sisters and non-Christian friends from different nations we would not only help to create a home and haven for many people. We would (finally) become that colorful reflection and expression of God’s image and purpose where everyone is needed instead of being a bleak, pale and predictable religious entity un-relevant to the people in Sweden today!
That’s the Way I see it, what do you see?
PS The lack of integration goes both ways, but as inviting nation I think we should extend the hand of welcome, expand our hearts to them and open our homes! DS
The Jesusmanifestation which was held last Saturday on May 3 was one way to include them, a good start, but only the small beginning!