As you may have seen in the Newsletter, there was no space for a report from my hand in the last issue, we are simply too busy in this church, and that is wonderful. So I was off the hook for a little while.
To night a report is expected, and you will get it, but let me first tell you that I am actually supposed to write two reports each year. I am to give a report to the membership about what we have been doing during the last year, I am supposed to mention the successes and the good things, but I am also supposed to mention what went wrong, the disappointments we have suffered, as a church and as a congregation.
If I feel like it, I may try to influence you, I may try to suggest new initiatives, I may try to challenge you.
The other report is my annual report to DKU, short for Danish Church Abroad. Writing this report I am supposed to put on another pair of glasses. I should tell DKU how we are doing as a Danish Church in Canada. My report will be handed out to all the board members of DKU for their consideration, and an extract will be printed in the magazine Dansk Kirkehilsen which is the membership newsletter for DKU.
You may ask yourselves, why do we have to report to DKU any more? We are paying 100% of the expenses for the running of our church; we do not receive 1 penny from DKU any more.
Let me point at two things that makes DKU important to you. The first is that DKU is the body that employs the pastor for your church. DKU looks after all the financial implications such as the salary, they decide how much rent there is to be paid for living in the parsonage, they look after the pension plan etc. DKU negotiates with the Danish Pastors Union and has signed an agreement with the same. In a little more than two years you will be hiring another pastor, and I think that it will be very helpful for you having DKU assisting you in choosing and hiring the right person.
The other thing, which may be more important, is that through DKU you are connected to the Church of Denmark. The president of DKU must be one of the Danish bishops and before anyone can be hired as a DKU pastor the bishop must accept the pastor as one he would recommend, and in writing tell the congregation that he has found this man or woman worthy to be their pastor. He will tell the congregation that he has instructed the pastor to preach the gospel and to assist the congregation in any possible way. He tells the congregation that the pastor must obey the teaching and the liturgy of the Church of Denmark in Danish, or translated into English. It is the duty of the pastor to see that no wrong teaching is being introduced in the church.
In short you could say that DKU and the bishop is your guaranty that your church stays Danish Lutheran.
My report to the board of DKU must confirm that this is the way it is. If I cannot do that, I guess they would come over here to see what is going on.
I have been your minister for a little more than a decade now, and I am still immensely enjoying being with you. I love my job, and you are a wonderful congregation and wonderful people each of you. Dee and I were sitting talking yesterday and we are so thankful for all the friendship, of the support we experience here. We really enjoy the endeavour to keep our home in the parsonage such a very comfortable place to live.
The statistics from the year 2001 has been published in the newsletter. The attendance at the Sunday services is the same as the year before on average 45 people to the Danish and 80 to the English services. The numbers of baptism, confirmands, weddings and funerals are a up little in some cases and down a little in others. We had 20 funerals or memorial services last year, that number is always too high.
When the many different support groups and auxiliaries start to give their verbal reports you will realise that this is a very busy church with many dedicated volunteers. When I am in Denmark and shall try to explain the difference between being a minister in Denmark and in Canada, then the involvement and the dedication of the volunteers here is what I am bragging about.
Let me just touch on a few things from the past year. Last June we went to the DKU convention in Toronto, that is a very important event that the 6 Danish churches in Canada, plus the Danish Church in Australia meet with each other and with the representatives from the board of DKU. Following the convention, Bishop Søren Lodberg Hvas, the President of DKU, came to Vancouver and he held a very festive church service on Sunday June 24.
The Web site which our church is running is very useful. Let me tell you that about 50% of the young people who come to our Nannies Club have got in connection with us, by reading about the Nannies club on the web site. They then send an e-mail requesting more information. We live in the computer and Internet age now. Our web master is Mogens Lemvig Hansen who is doing a very good job.
We are still visiting Nanaimo and Victoria 3 times per year. In both cities there are big Danish clubs that arrange the church services. Pastor Folmer Johansen and I take turns and that leads me to another thing on my little agenda for my report, namely the developing co-operation between the two Danish Churches. 10 years ago we had one joint annual board meeting, and I think the ladies auxiliaries also had one joint meeting back then.
We now have joint events like the Heritage Week-end, the Sunday school/Church picnic and more. I think it is very important that the two churches get closer. In the summer of 2003 Folmer Johansen will return to Denmark. As far as I have understood Granly has been promised one more pastor of their own, and then the idea is that the two churches should merge. Let us therefore in respect of the differences between the two churches try to develop a good and close relationship that will make the transition easier when that day comes.
As mentioned in our president’s written report, two new groups have started up, a Bible Study Group and the Alpha course. Also considering that the group of young Danes who are here for a shorter or longer stay has developed from 2-3 members to 14-15 members by itself, tells us that things are happening, that our Church is useful and needed.
Because we are so busy, and because, new people show up for different events, we never, or at least very seldom, sit down and try to find out about whom we are? If we do the right thing or not. We have a tendency to push aside some new initiatives or programs because we don’t have the manpower or the energy to deal with them.
Let me mention just as examples, a follow-up program regarding the children who are baptised in our church, establishing of a pick-up service for people in care homes who would like to attend Church services and other events here at our church.
Maybe the time is now when it would be important to make a study day. Maybe a whole Saturday certainly including a delicious Danish lunch, where we as a congregation could meet and talk about how we would like our church to meet the challenges right now, and in the future.
Maybe we could start the day by trying to find out what does it mean now, and in the coming years, that we are a Danish Church. What does it mean that we are a Lutheran Church, yes, maybe even what does it mean that our Church is Danish-Lutheran.
Is there any difference being Danish and Lutheran today compared to 25 years ago? And what about our identity in the future?
We sometimes talk about having the sanctuary upstairs and the community hall downstairs, are the programs in the two places what we want?
We try to assist LUMS and also the newly established Lutheran church in Albania, are there other things we should engage ourselves in?
Regarding the more cultural activities, should we try to pave the way for more co-operation between the different Danish associations in Greater Vancouver, and maybe get some better programs than what any of us can afford on our own.
Do we want our church to take more initiatives regarding contact with children and young families? Do we want to develop better programs for young Danish people who are here for a couple of months or a couple of years?
Should we cater more to our Norwegian and Swedish brothers and sisters, maybe have a few special church services for them per year, maybe get more weddings and funerals from this group of people?
Maybe a study day regarding what our church is doing and would like to do, could have 1 or 2 lectures giving some basics. People could then go into groups and deal with different topics in the different groups?
I don’t know, this is just a few ideas, but I do feel very strongly, that you should all be involved in discussing these things. This is not only a matter for the board and the pastor, it has something to do with everyone in our church.
In closing I would like to thank you all for being such a wonderful congregation to serve, I would like to thank the Church Board for a good co-operation. I would especially like to thank my secretary Bodil, without whom I quite often would have been lost. But most of all I would like to thank my wife, Dee, for always being there for me. The old saying, “Take two and pay for one!” is still true, she is working as hard as I am, and I could not spend so much time with the church, if she did not do what she is doing. Thank You.
Kai Glud, Pastor.