The Norwegian Church

Post by Tara Kram

My site visits yesterday and today were to several Norwegian churches and a City Mission in Tonsberg.  Here are some interesting facts I learned:

  • The Norwegian Church is overseen by the government and is of the Lutheran Denomination.  86% of people in Norway are “members” of the Norwegian State Church. 
  • Approximately 5% of people actually attend church on Sundays.  The church in Stoke has about 11,000 “members” and they have about 75 in attendance on Sunday.
  • If a child is born to at least one Norwegian parent who is a member of the state church, then the child is automatically a member
  • The Norwegian Church is funded by the government.  Any donations given from the people go toward special programming, not the overall functioning of the church (salaries, building maintenance, etc.)
  • The government also gives money to any other church denominations according to the number of their members (Muslim, Free churches, Catholic)
  • Most pastors rotate between several churches in their towns.  Some churches have service every Sunday and some only have it every other Sunday.
  • All churches are built with the entrance facing west and the alter facing east.  This is because Christ will come with the rising of the sun from the east.  Gravestones also face east.

    Skjee Church from 1100's

  • Graves are “re-used” in Norway.  The body is buried in a wood coffin and usually decomposes within 20 years.  After 20 years, a member of the same family can be buried in the save grave plot.  They will just add their name to the gravestone instead of creating a new one.  If a grave has not been kept up for 60 years, then a new family can take it over and remove the gravestone. 
  • Some of the oldest churches in Norway are the Stave (wooden beam) churches.  There used to be over 400 of them but they were torn down, now there are 28 in all of Norway. 
    • Hoyjord Stavkirke – built in 1150
  • Many churches have a sailboat hanging from the ceiling which was often gifted from a navy man representing their rescues. 
  • The bishops are appointed by the King, not by the church.  The church and the government will likely separate in 2013 so the government will not control the functioning of the church.
  • There are 10 city missions in all of Norway that reach out to those in need.  The mission in Tonsberg serves about 100 people per day and they are charged a minimal fee for the food.  They do not get food for free because they are receiving money from the welfare system.  There are no homeless people on record in Tonsberg (town of 35,000) because the welfare system is so strong. 

    City Mission - "Room for All"

Post by Tara Kram


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