Faith communities play an important role in civil society when revolutionary changes and crises occur. In recent years many state and municipal institutions have had their attention drawn to the importance of contacts with civil society and in particular with faith communities that have unique experience of helping people during crises and catastrophes.

These contacts can be strengthened at an early stage through dialogues with the faith communities. In several parts of Sweden this cooperation is arranged today through interfaith councils.

The Agency distributes government support to religious communities and therefore has a large network and good contacts with this part of Swedish civil society. The pastor, imam, priest, and other church workers as well as the active member can mean much in crisis preparedness. In addition, there are parish churches, mosques and other buildings which often are used in events of crisis.

The Agencys role is, among other things, to bring together the municipality's emergency managers with faith groups locally. This can be done by helping to set up ecumenical councils, local interfaith groups, or in other ways. The Agencys mission is to promote constructive cooperation and promote best practice models in this area of work.

Many hands are needed

After the separation between the State and the Church of Sweden (in year 2000) the Church of Sweden mandate from the Government to lead this work has ended. The Church of Sweden has, however, still a large and important role to play as the mainstay of crisis work both locally and on the national level. In addition, the rest of the faith communities – from different religious background – now has an important role to play in times of crisis.

What can religious communities offer?

In today's multicultural and multireligious society, faith communities have an important role to play when a crisis or disaster has occurred. They have many valuable resources, and above all, they have a developed abilities to support people in crisis through not only through their religious services (rites and ceremonies) but also through spiritual and pastoral care and their various social work