Caring for Health, Bodies, and Development

Teaching New Spiritual Practices in the Church of Sweden



Sweden, Christianity, church, spirituality, lived religion, practice, rituals, culture of care, health


Over the last fifty years a plethora of new spiritual practices has emerged in the Church of Sweden. Many fall within a category of holistic practices, aimed at engaging body, soul, and spirit. Among these, two categories are dominant: meditations and movement-based bodily practices. Some of these practices are contested by other Christians on a theological basis. The article asks: Who are the new ritual specialists teaching these practices? Why do they teach these practices? Why in the church? By using a bottom-up perspective and studying practices which lie outside the traditional Christian religious rites, which has been the focus in research on the Church of Sweden, we find that the holistic practices are framed in a culture of care, focusing on bodily and spiritual wellbeing. We suggest that the predominance of women in body-movement practices should be understood as a generational feature rather than as an expression of the feminization of the church. Many of the leaders are women who were part of new spiritual movements as well as body-mind practices and various forms of dance in gyms and yoga studios in the 1990s and early 2000s, finding an openness to bringing their knowledge into the church.

How to Cite

Plank, K., Egnell, H., & Lundgren, L. (2024). Caring for Health, Bodies, and Development: Teaching New Spiritual Practices in the Church of Sweden. Approaching Religion, 14(2), 113–131.