Anne-Marie Thunberg was an important figure within Swedish social- and cultural debates of the second half of the 1900s, primarily in her role as editor of the cultural magazine Vår Lösen, from 1961–1998. She was an intellectual Christian who dealt with ethical and social-welfare matters and made major contributions to both national and international ecumenical efforts.
Anne-Marie Thunberg was born in December 1923. She was the daughter of a linesman and parliamentarian named Edvin Gustafsson and his wife Anna. Her father was a member of the Social Democratic party and sat in the second chamber of parliament from 1937–1960. He was also active within Broderskapsrörelsen (a Christian brotherhood movement). Anne-Marie Thunberg’s parents were both members of Svenska Alliansmissionen (the Swedish Alliance Mission) although their children were baptised and confirmed within the Swedish Church. Anne-Marie Thunberg’s childhood home was characterised by her parents’ Christian faith albeit not by a forced religiosity.
After gaining her school-leaving certificate in Jönköping in 1944 Anne-Marie Thunberg studied in Lund, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in 1948, followed by her theological degree in 1951. In 1960 she was awarded her theological licentiate from Uppsala. Towards the end of her studies she began to work as social-welfare secretary within the Sveriges kristliga studentrörelse (SKS) (Christian students’ movement of Sweden). In 1962 she transferred into a similar post for Svenska Ekumeniska Nämnden (SEN; Swedish Ecumenical authority) in Sigtuna. She held this post until 1993 when the ecumenical section was reorganised and Sveriges Kristna Råd (Christian councils of Sweden) was established. As social-welfare secretary within these organisations she was responsible for the organisations’ engagement with social-welfare issues, for example by means of courses, conferences, and publications in SEN, or by means of producing reports and through the journal Social debatt. Of central importance to the work was the promotion of the organisations’ and their members’ engagement in matters such as the relationship between social activism and the Christian faith, as well as the role of the Church in society.
Anne-Marie Thunberg served as editor of the Christian cultural magazine Vår Lösen for the period of 1961–1998. The magazine published articles on culture, Christian faith, ethics, social issues, as well as book reviews. Anne-Marie Thunberg also served as a public voice in other ways. She contributed to Dagens Nyheter during the late 1960s and early 1970s, held executive positions within the Swedish Church, and was also a member of Radionämnden (the Swedish broadcasting commission) and Filmgranskningsnämnden (the film review board). She dealt with matters of research ethics and served as expert in ethics for KASAM (Samrådsnämnden för kärnavfallsfrågor; the nuclear waste agency) for the period of 1986–1992. The ethical matters she dealt with also included issues of life’s extremes – abortion, euthanasia, and bioethics and the ethics of nursing care.
Anne-Marie Thunberg became engaged to Lars Thunberg in 1953. He too was an activist of the ecumenical movement and a theologian, a priest, and a researcher. The two married in 1954 and spent their first period together in Paris where Lars Thunberg was studying. They then returned to Sweden, more specifically to Uppsala. They were both active together within the ecumenical movement, translating documents central to the movement and working with the Vår Lösen magazine. They did not have children.
Anne-Marie Thunberg’s adult life focused as much on the church and social activism as her parents’ lives had during her childhood. Although she was politically unaligned she has been described as tending towards the Social Democratic party. Her ecumenical work brought her face to face with international political revival church movement which began in the late 1960s and her activism became heavily motivated by the church’s role in international matters of justice. She and her husband transmitted the suggestions put forward by this international ecumenical political movement to churches throughout Sweden.
Anne-Marie Thunberg spent most of her life living in Uppsala and Sigtuna. As her husband was employed at Aarhus university in Denmark from 1978–1992 the couple lived in that Danish city for that period. Anne-Marie Thunberg used to commute to Sweden in order to carry out her many obligations. Once Lars Thunberg’s job in Denmark came to an end the couple returned to Sigtuna where they lived until their deaths.
Anne-Marie Thunberg died in December 2005.