This being my first Pastor’s report I am convinced that I could be talking for a couple of hours, but my secretary, Bodil, has advised me wisely to keep it fairly short.
First of all I would like to express my appreciation to the Board members for their trust when hiring me and Birgitte as the new pastor and pastor’s wife. We will try the best we can to live up to that trust in the years to come. A big thanks also to the entire congregation for the very warm reception and helpfulness that we have received since last summer.
Quite a lot of things have happened since then, and I will try briefly to sum up some of the important events since last year’s AGM.
In May last year a joint group from Granly and Burnaby was formed to study the possibilities of a much better collaboration between the two churches. No final decisions have been made, of course, as these talks were only meant to be feasibility studies, but none the less we can see some positive results already in the two churches doing more and more activities as joint ventures like New Years Day afternoon service in Burnaby and the Joint Confirmands’ service coming up this Sunday. I hope that we will develop this collaboration more and more in the future, with both churches benefiting from that. I think we must realise how privileged we are to have two churches and two pastor’s within short distance, and with my knowledge of the Granly Church and the positive spirit out there, I really believe that we should work towards the goal of keeping both churches, if possible. We have everything to gain from it and nothing to lose. Everybody who has taken part in one of the heritage weekends, or been to Church out there I think, will agree with me, that Granly has something important to offer. So please, let us not only talk about the money issue, when looking at the future, but also about the values that are vital for us to preserve as Danish immigrants. The Danish Church in Vancouver has proved itself to be quite capable of surviving ever since it was founded, and if we look into all the different possibilities with an open mind, why would that change drastically in the future?
Of course we all have to admit that our two congregations are not getting any younger, and young Danes are not coming over from Denmark to fill up the empty seats, but if we put all our creative efforts together, we can at least try to attract the younger generations of Danish origin, for instance by creating new projects that look beyond our own churches, like our plan to cook meals for the homeless in East Vancouver together with LUMS, which we are hopefully going to do the first time sometime in late August. As a Church we always have to remind each other and ourselves what a Church is good for. A Church is there to praise God and to serve man, and these two things go together hand in hand. And as a congregation of well established Danish immigrants we are called to help the less fortunate outside the Church. We have a beautiful Church Sanctuary where we can get together and receive inspiration from the Bible to go out into the world and contribute and hopefully make a little difference in somebody else’s life.
The Danish Lutheran Church as such makes a difference just by being there, symbolising the presence of the Lord in our life, and symbolising our Danish heritage, which we don’t want to forget either. We try the best we can to combine these two functions in one Church building and I think that two major projects over the last year show the broadness of the Church, one being the opening of the Memorial Walk, which has already proven to be of great value, in order for people to have a place for families to scatter the ashes of their loved one, and as a place of remembrance and reflection.
And in quite another field we have seen the popularity of the new Danish Heritage cook-book, which came out last fall, and which also shows the possibilities for the Church as a well established Church to come up with such ambitious projects—like we have also seen earlier with the English hymn book. Many Danish congregations outside Denmark now benefit from the work that has been done by many people here in Vancouver. In the musical field we are approaching the day where we can enjoy the full capacity of our new Pipe organ, due to the effort of some very skilled men in our congregation. We are looking forward to that day! And we are so fortunate to have a Danish Choir with a new Choir Master who has shown himself to be a new inspiration and good motivator to the Choir. And we are fortunate to have a Sunday School working well, but badly in need of help to keep going. Other fairly new activities like the Bible marathon and the Hans Christian Andersen study group have been well received, as well as the Friday exercises in the Church Hall.
We hope to be able to carry on with these or similar activities in the coming year. But at the same time we must realise, that new activities take up time and space, and time and space is not unlimited. Birgitte and I have to make a priority list of what we can take part in, and doing that we know that we cannot satisfy everybody’s need. We try to fill out our call as pastor and pastor’s wife the best we can, with the things that we find that we are best at doing. We hope that you will look with understanding at our attempt to fill out our own shoes, trying to form our own identity as pastor and pastor’s wife in the Danish Church of Vancouver.
Søren Kristoffersen, Pastor.