It is now two and a half years since I came here as your pastor, and again this year it is a pleasure to do my report. Our services were well attended, as you can see in the statistics in your booklet, and we had many great events in the church hall. We have every reason to be thankful for yet another year of positive and cheerful activity in the church as well.
I am mid way in my term, and I would like to include in my report this year an update of the initiatives that are under development.
One of the most remarkable new initiatives is the church Youth Choir. Our organist, Janet Mowatt, is doing a wonderful job with these kids, and the Youth Choir has just been accepted as a member of Folkekirkens Ungdomskor, The Youth Choir of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark. This will pave the way for our choir to develop a closer connection to other choirs and provide us with music and inspiration. It ties us closer to our Danish origin, and I believe it is also a good thing for our Danish backup organisation, the DSUK that we have taken this step. It is a significant enhancement to our services that the youth choir is up there by the organ, and when they come downstairs and sing at communion, we all appreciate their presence as well as their song. We will do our annual fund-raising for the choir next month, and hopefully we will be able to raise enough funds for the choir to continue the way we envisioned. Thanks to of some generous special donations we have been able to establish a travel fund for the choir, and we hope it will be possible for the choir to go to Denmark next year to participate in a Danish choir convention. It is very important that our church reaches out to the local youth of Danish descent, and the choir is one way of doing it. We hope we will be able to reach our goal of having ten young voices in the choir. We know it takes time and a lot of work to get a choir established so the youth will know about it and want to join, but we are confident that it will happen.
Another initiative in good development is the Vancouver Danish Network, originally named Unge Danskes Klub. At our latest session we had twelve participants, and these evenings in the downtown location are always enjoyable. The Danish vice consul, Vibeke Hynkemejer, has attended, and we are very pleased that the Danish embassy and consulate have placed a link to this on their home page. Maybe the most important effect of this initiative is that it enables me to facilitate contact between people so they can share their experiences and knowledge. It is networking at its best, and newcomers can find help and support from those who have been through the same things. I get emails all the time from people in Denmark who consider coming here for a period of time. It is great to have the Vancouver Danish Network as a resource. Just like with the youth choir, this initiative strengthens our ties to the other Danish congregations around the world, through the DSUK. Young people from Denmark travel all over the world, and our Vancouver Danish Network is part of the international network for them. For us, it is a small window to the world which could also benefit our local youth when they travel to places where these other Danish networks are active, be it Paris or Brussels or Berlin, London or Sidney Australia or whatever.
Also new in 2008 was the Christmas workshop in late November. A group of volunteers set up tables where you could learn how to weave hearts and stars, cut kravlenisser, even the church’s own, designed by Lona Munck and donated to the church. There were study groups in the kitchen for klejner, a table for konfekt and one for pebernødder. We were very pleased with the number of people who showed up, and we had a lot fun that evening. I believe we will do that again this year. Who knows, it might turn into a tradition at some point. The kravlenisser from Lona Munck might also become one—they are really cute!
We have had visits from Denmark, the folk dancers from Svendborg, and the Camerata Choir in the summer and the gymnasts from Ollerup in the fall. It is nice to have these fresh impressions from Denmark which they bring, and it gives us the opportunity also, to share our church fellowship with them and see reflection through them of the way our church works. We can learn a lot from that.
There have been great musical events in our church in 2008. Memorable concerts by the brass quintet at Candle Mass, Steven Henriksen and Janet Mowatt in honour of their mother, the clarinet trio on Mothers’ Day. The Faux Arts Trio and three wonderful singers have contributed with beautiful music on several occasions through the year. The Yen–Hansen kids and other youth have played beautifully for us.
One feature which is gaining more and more importance in our church life is the home page, maintained and expanded on an ongoing basis by webmaster Mogens. Families find very useful information about rituals and procedures, and many people connect to the church through the home page. It is a more and more important tool for my work as a pastor and for the congregation.
Lucia and bazaar, spring tea, Fastelavn, All Saints and men’s dinner, —one thing after another marks our calendar, and another year has gone by before we know it. I think our church is in fine shape.
Many activities in the Danish church are happening every year, every month, even every week as we know. Nothing of all this would be possible without the steady, faithful work of many hands. I would like to congratulate this congregation with the fact that we have a cheerful and positive fellowship. So many people come here and find a nice and open atmosphere at our functions. This is due to our volunteers who take responsibility for the food, the building, the grounds, the administration, the fund-raising, and the service functions, and I am proud to work with you. I thank you all for making this such a great workplace for me. Particularly I would like to thank Flemming, Dorrit and Lars, Jakob, Ebba, Poul Erik and Janet for our cooperation at the services. It is essential that the details are looked after, and you all contribute to the dignity of the services in joy and sorrow. Most of all I thank Bodil for our daily exchange of ideas and mutual support. Without Bodil I am not only one who wouldn’t know what to do in numerous situations! I am honoured to work with you. I wish to thank the board for inspiration and very thorough work, especially I thank Flemming for your cooperation and support through your two years as president. I appreciate your work and loyalty towards the church, and I thank you for being patient with me and my flying ideas.
This congregation has a lot of things going for us. I am confident that the new board will enjoy the opportunity to continue the positive and fruitful development. Thank you.
Bodil Toftdahl, Pastor.