While more and more Swedes decide to leave the Swedish Church here at home, for Swedes abroad the church can be a lifeline. Not only for the religious, but also for those that just want a link to their home country. Sweden's Lutheran Church of Sweden has churches in 45 towns in 25 countries all around the world. The newest opened just last year in Florida, and in total the churches get over a million visitors annually. Stefan Bergmark is a regional manager in the Swedish Church abroad, and he says that the churches have a dual roles, both as places of worship and meeting points for Swedes abroad. The churches can also be a place where young Swedes in trouble in a foreign country can get help, says vicar Michael Persson in London.
But just like the Swedish foreign ministry is having troubles financing all of this countries embassies and consulates worldwide, so the Church of Sweden is also finding the financing of the 45 or so churches tough, and cutbacks may be necessary.
One Church still thriving is the Swedish Church in London, a city that is often called Sweden's fourth largest city, due to all the Swedes living there. There has been a Swedish Church in London since 1710, and it is currently located in Marylebone, close to Sherlock Holmes' haunting ground Baker Street. The church celebrated its anniversary with a whole weekend of festivities, including services in London's famous St Paul's Cathedral, a Garden Party, and a Sunday service in the Swedish church proper.