The parish of Österåker-Östra Ryd is situated about 30 kilometres northeast from Stockholm and belongs to the Diocese of Stockholm, one of thirteen Swedish Dioceses. There are three churches; Österåker church, which dates from the 12th century, Östra Ryd church, dating from the 14th century and Åkersberga church, which was built in 1980 and is a part of the Åkersberga church centre, where almost all the parish personnel are based.
There are about 30/35,000 people resident in the parish which holds some three hundred services a year and there are more than five hundred baptisms, weddings and funerals. There are many activities for children and youth people, thirteen choirs, four for adults and nine for children. The parish also arranges activities for pensioners and others who are free during the day and there is a counseling service.
The Rector is the Rev’d Jan Bonander and the staff includes six further priests.
The Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran community of faith manifested in parishes and dioceses. The Church of Sweden also has a national organisation; is an open national church, which working with a democratic organisation and through the ministry of the church, covers the whole nation.
The description means that at the Reformation it adopted the reforms to the medieval teaching and organisation common to all Protestant churches, following the more moderate line of Martin Luther in preference to the stricter purging in teaching and practice associated with John Calvin. The moderation of the Lutheran Reformation is nowhere better seen than in Sweden where the churches remained much the same, bishops were retained in charge of their dioceses and the liturgy only changed in certain respects.
In February 2004 St Peter’s, Petersfield, and the Swedish parish of Österåker-Östra Ryd, part of the Church of Sweden, established a link with the signing of a formal agreement.
The agreement had the following objectives:
- To inspire each other to express our Christian faith.
- To make it possible for individuals and groups, young people, choirs and others to visit each other?s parishes and in that way exchange experiences and knowledge about life in churches and parishes in their respective countries.
- To arrange accommodation for visitors with local families both to reduce costs and to encourage contact between people in both parishes.
- To work together to enable young people to visit Taizé or similar.
- To encourage priests and deacons to work in each other’s parishes..
Various visits have been made since the first contacts were established culminating in the visit by the Swedish Non Silentium Choir to Petersfield in May 2005 and the return visit by St Peter’s Choir to Sweden in September 2006.
A number of priests and other members of Osteraker-Ostra Ryd parish visited Petersfield for a week in 2003.