The Nordic Africa Institute

Archives of the Church of Sweden Central Office


The Church of Sweden Central Office is situated in the cathedral city of Uppsala, in Church House at Sysslomansgatan 4, close to the cathedral. The archives are at present kept in another building at Sysslomansgatan 31.

The Church of Sweden is evangelical-Lutheran in confession and has a tradition of one thousand years. A century ago virtually every citizen belonged to this church. Nowadays around 80 per cent of the population belong to it and since 2000 it is separate from the state.

Revival movements had a great impact on society in Sweden 150 years ago. Most of them distanced themselves from the established church and created instead free churches of like-minded believers. In their wake missionary societies emerged with their inspiration from the Anglo-Saxon world. Within the Church of Sweden a number of missionary societies of the Lutheran confession were founded. As a result some of these efforts were consolidated into the Church of Sweden Mission in 1874. It also received the endorsement of the King. The first missionary was sent to South Africa in 1876 to Oscarsberg, named after King Oscar. The Archbishop became chairman of the society. CSM was identified as a Church mission representing the theology of the whole Church and not just a voluntary missionary society. In 1903 Swedish missionaries went from South Africa to Belingwe in Rhodesia together with Zulu evangelists. The end result was the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Zimbabwe.

In South Africa CSM was active in Natal-Zululand. Many missionaries devoted their lives to the people and the country. The majority were women. Several schools and hospitals were built and run by the missionaries. In 1956 all mission operated schools were taken over by the white government. In 1971 the Betania Mission hospital was also taken over because it was located on white land. The first Swedish bishop was based in Dundee, the second, Helge Fosseus, moved to Eshiyane or Rorkes Drift or Oscarsberg. He has authored a book in Swedish on the moves which in 1961 led to the formation of one united Lutheran Church of South Africa. Other books and articles were written by the missionary Gunnar Helander, who had to leave apartheid South Africa in 1957. He is considered to be one of the most important public opinion makers in Sweden of the 1950´s when most middle of the road organizations joined the anti-apartheid struggle. Another missionary was Bengt Sundkler, who authored many books on churches in Africa. He became known world-wide for his studies of the Africa initiated, indigenous churches. His last book was a 1,200 page volume on the History of the Church in Africa, published in 2000. Another missionary was Axel Ivar Berglund, who served both in South Africa and in Sweden. One of his assignments was to the South African Council of Churches, founded in 1968. He was a colleague of Desmond Tutu and introduced him to Sweden. Much knowledge is stored in books and archives through these missionaries.

The archives of the Church of Sweden Mission are kept in excellent order. Most of the records and minutes are in Swedish. They deal primarily with the daily routines and problems of the missionaries, their schools, hospitals and parishes. From 1961 there is mutuality in relations with a sister church. The problems of apartheid had been there much of the time but they became more evident after the Sharpeville massacre. CSM had a board appointed by the Church Synod and a secretariat with one person directly responsible for the relations with South Africa. This person usually traveled at least once a year to South Africa. After 1978 it became difficult to acquire visas and travel permits. The correspondence of these secretaries is probably the foremost source in acquiring information from the hard years. Among others they were Tore Bergman, Axel Ivar Berglund, Hans Engdahl. The CSM information office also published articles and leaflets. One information officer was Lester Wikström, who managed to get 'secret' information out to the Swedish media.


[Sub-collection] Asta Ternström's Documents
[Sub-collection] Church of Sweden Aid - Swedish National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation
[Sub-collection] Church of Sweden Mission (CSM) in South Africa
[Sub-collection] Church of Sweden Mission, CSM
[Sub-collection] Church of Sweden Publications
[Sub-collection] IKON - The Photographic Department of the Church of Sweden
[Sub-collection] Photo Collections of the Church of Sweden Central Office
[Sub-collection] Private archives of former CSM missionaries
[Series] Books in the Library of the Church of Sweden Central Office


Opening hours
Mon-Fri. 9-12


Archives of the Church of Sweden Central Office
[Kyrkokansliets arkiv]
SE-751 70 Uppsala

Visiting address: Sysslomansgatan 31, Uppsala
Telephone: +46 (0)18 16 99 92
Fax: +46 18 16 96 58
E-mail: External link.

Archive extent, ref. code, country, period and keywords.







Church of Sweden Central office Archive Angola Mozambique Namibia South Africa Zimbabwe Rhodesia History Anti-apartheid movements Solidarity movements Liberation organizations Anti-racism movements Religious organizations Religious missions Missionaries Christianity Zululand Evangelical Lutheran Church of Zimbabwe Gunnar Helander Bengt Sundkler Tore Bergman Axel Ivar Berglund Hans Engdahl Lester Wikström Church of Sweden Mission CSM