Church of Norway
Who is the Church of Norway and what are its ministries?
The Church of Norway
, a member of the Lutheran World Federation
(LWF), has belonged to the Evangelical Lutheran branch of the Christian church since the Reformation of the 16th century when Christianity arrived in Norway from the British Isles, Germany and Freisland around 1000. The Church of Norway, which has 3,870,000 members, can be defined as a State church with an Episcopal and a Synodical structure. Currently, the State and the Church are in an ongoing discussion about the relationship between the State and the Church in Norway.
The Church of Norway identifies worship and religious education as central to its mission. “In 2003 the Norwegian Parliament (the Storting) voted to reform the religious education in Norway. By endorsing religious education in all religious communities the Storting wants to stimulate young people’s religious identities and understanding of their cultural heritage and traditions.” Many Church of Norway congregations will be part of this initiative.
Today the Church of Norway incorporates a variety of autonomous organizations and institutions. Rooted in the 19th-century Pietist heritage, most of the organizations have no formal links with church leadership. The entire foreign missionary effort is carried out by these organizations, which support 800 missionaries and development personnel. Norwegian Church Aid is the country's largest non-governmental development agency. Initially a Church of Norway organization, Norwegian Church Aid is now ecumenical.How do the Church of Norway and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America accompany one another in ministry?
Through the churchwide ELCA Global Mission unit, the ELCA relates to and is in bilateral relationship with over 80 companion churches and institutions. The ELCA Global Mission unit stewards a church-to-church relationship with the Church of Norway.
The ELCA provides a pastor for the American Lutheran Congregation of Oslo,
an English-speaking, ecumenical congregation affiliated with the ELCA. Its ministry is directed to the permanent English-speaking residents of the city, as well as short-term residents, embassy personnel, foreign students, refugees, and tourists. The congregation was founded following World War II to provide for the many Americans in the Oslo area. The mission of the congregation is to share the good news of Jesus Christ by serving spiritual, social, family, and personal needs -- providing experiences that foster spiritual growth. Life together is rooted in Bible study and prayer, with a strong emphasis on adult education and small group ministry.
In addition, the ELCA supports the Stavanger International Church
in Stavanger, Norway. The Stavanger International Church is an ecumenical, international, English-speaking Christian fellowship. Members are drawn from over fifteen denominational backgrounds and worship in the historic Hetland Church, completed in 1854. Many emigrants from Western Norway left for America from the port of Stavanger. They experienced their last worship service in their homeland in the Hetland Church, before walking down the hill to waiting ships. The International Church has worshiped there since 1983. The Stavanger International Church has a full range of congregational and outreach ministries, including Bible study and Christian education, youth activities and retreats, marriage enrichment, women's study fellowships, and congregational retreats and tours.Norway: the context where the Church of Norway serves
Norway, a constitutional monarchy, gained its independence from Sweden on October 26, 1905. Its constitution was put into effect on May 17, 1814, and modified in 1884. Over 4.6 million people live in Norway. Two types of Norwegian (Bokmal and Nynorsk) are the official languages and are spoken by inhabitants, although there are small Sami- and Finnish-speaking minorities. The state church is Evangelical Lutheran (86%), with other Protestants, Roman Catholics and other Christians (4%).
The Norwegian economy is dominated by its oil and gas industry, (only Saudi Arabia and Russia export more oil than Norway). Economically, Norway is planning for the end of its oil reserves by careful investment of current budget surpluses. Although there is little cultivable land in Norway, many farmers breed livestock, combining this with tree-felling to supply Norway's numerous sawmills. Consequently, wood products and paper are both thriving industries. A large number of fish farms have been established, making Norway by far the world's largest supplier of salmon. The country has sustained its economic prosperity through development of an exceptionally strong energy sector. Norway has abundant resources for hydroelectric power, the development of which has allowed greatly reduced overheads for heavy industries, such as aluminum production. Norway enjoys a wholly liberalized trade regime with EU members but rejected membership in the EU as late as 1994. Water and air pollution along with acid rain (damaging forests and lakes) are the country's primary environmental concerns.
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