The Church of Sweden decided on November 23, 2017 to drop the terms “He” and “Lord” to refer to God when conducting services.
In a move for the church to become more “inclusive,” the 251-member of the national Evangelical Lutheran Church updated its handbook urging priests to use gender-neutral terms for God, The Telegraph reports.
Instead of saying “Father, son and Holy Ghost,” the clergy should now use “in the name of God and the Holy Trinity.” The new guideline will take effect on May 20 next year.
Church of Sweden spokesperson Sofija Pedersen Videke said the majority of those who attended the eight-day meeting approved of the modernized handbook. “We talk about Jesus Christ, but in a few places we have changed it to say ‘God’ instead of ‘He’.”
The Church Handbook is vital in conducting Mass, holy sacraments and other church services. It is a set of guidelines instructing priests on how services should be conducted in language, liturgy, theology and music.
Archbishop Antje Jackelen, head of the Church of Sweden, stands by the body’s decision. “Theologically, for instance, we know that God is beyond our gender determinations, God is not human,” she said.
Many criticized the revisions in the handbook. Priest Helena Edlund said little changes would become “drastic changes” over time, reports Breitbart.
“Is it unlikely, for example, that in five years we will be praying ‘Our Mother Who is in Heaven …’ in our churches? A few years ago, this was called an impossibility, but the church handbook proposal makes it possible,” the priest explained.
Meantime, Mikael Löwegren, commissioner for the church in Småland Ljungby, said Christianity is founded in the belief of one God in three Divine Persons–the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. He warned that, “Under the guise of ‘diversity’, society is being broken down into different groups.”