A short presentation of the Church of Norway
- Church membership 3.9 million – 77 % of the population
- 66 % of all infants baptized in the Church of Norway 2011
- Approximately 100 people attend each service
- Approximately 70 000 services are held per year
- 11 dioceses
- 105 deaneries
- 1260 parishes/congregations
- 1600 churches/chapels
- 1400 pastors
- 6200 employees in other categories
- 9000 elected members of Parish Councils
- Total grants from the National Budget and from the Municipal Councils, – approximately NOK 4,3 billion (2011).
- Around 66 % of those born in Norway 2011, were baptised in the Church of Norway
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Church of Norway welcomes all people in the country to join the church and attend its services. In order to become a member you need to be baptized (if you have not been baptized previously) and hold a permanent residence permit. However, Church of Norway also welcomes migrants without permanent stay to take part in the life and activities of the congregation and to attend the services. The Church of Norway seeks to be an inclusive, open, confessing, missional and serving folk church – bringing the good news from Jesus Christ to all people.
1000 years of Christianity in Norway
The Christian faith came to Norway in the ninth century. It was brought to western Norway by missionaries from the British Isles, and to eastern Norway by missionaries from Germany and Friesland, by way of Denmark.
Norwegian kings played an important part in the country’s Christianization, and political interests were an undeniable part of their endeavor, along with the spiritual. King Olav Haraldsson, and his death at the Battle of Stiklestad (north of Nidaros, now Trondheim) in 1030, played a significant role toward uniting the nation in the Christian faith.
With its roots in the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages the Church of Norway became a Lutheran church through the Reformation in 1537. At that time, Norway and Denmark were united, and the Lutheran confession was introduced by the Danish king, Christian III.
In a certain sense, the Church of Norway has been a “state church” since that time, although this designation fits best for the constitutional form of the church after 1660.The Norwegian Constitution of 1814 confirmed that the Norwegian state would retain “the Evangelical Lutheran religion” as the official state religion.
On 21 May 2012, the Norwegian Parliament passed a constitutional amendment that granted the Church of Norway increased autonomy. This loosens historical ties between institutions of State and the majority Lutheran Church.
In the new wording of the Constitution there no longer is any referance to an “official religion of the State.” Article 2 in the Constitution now says that Norway’s values are based on its Christian and humanist heritage.
One major consequence is that the responsibility for the appointment of bishops of the Church of Norway shifted from the state to the church.
The Church of Norway today
Church of Norway is the majority church in Norway. Today more than 3.9 million (2012) Norwegians are members of the Church of Norway – i.e.77 % of the population.
The Church of Norways long-standing episcopal order was supplemented by a synodical structure in the twentieth century. Parish Council members and members of the Diocesan Councils are elected by the church members. The eleven Diocesan Councils gathers once a year for the General Synod of the church.
Systematic teaching of all the baptised is developed in recent years. Plan for Christian Education was adopted by the General Synod 2009.
A growing number of pastors are women (26% in 2012) and four of the twelve bishops are women (2012).
The Sami people are a significant part of the Church of Norway. Since 1992 there has been a Sami Church Council. Its task is to develop Sami church life built on Sami languages and cultures.
In the twentieth century the ecumenical movement has shaped Church of Norway’s identity and profile in many ways. It is among the founding and active members of the World Council of Churches (WWC), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC). Church of Norway has signed the “Porvoo Agreement”, by which Nordic and Baltic Lutheran churches and the Anglican churches of Great Britain and Ireland affirm each other’s proclamation, sacraments and ministries. Church of Norway has also signed the “Leuenberg Concord”, which is an ecumenical agreement between the reformation churches in Europe. The agreement with the Methodist Church, “The Church – A Community of Grace”, links the Church of Norway with the Methodist Church of Northern Europe.
In addition to these multilateral ecumenical agreements, The Church of Norway has signed formal agreements of cooperation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, the Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession in Brazil, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa.
Church of Norway is among the founding and active members of the Christian Council of Norway and its Multicultural Church Network. The network provides the platform for cooperation and partnership between new migrant churches and traditional churches in Norway.
The Church of Norway web-site is presented by Church of Norway
Telph. +47 23 08 12 00, fax. +47 23 08 12 01
Director of Communication: Trude
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