In a Danish church, the architecture is very important, not only for the practical purposes but also as an indicator of how we understand the spiritual content. Sitting in the pews upstairs, we face east because as a congregation we are headed towards the light, and the room is high and bright because this is where we want to be drawn upwards in our minds. The architecture of our building is overall in the Danish tradition which is our heritage as Christians. So, in this tradition, this is really a ship which, like Noah’s ark, carries us through life across perilous seas and through dangerous storms. This ship of ours is, however, different from its Danish ancestors is the sense that it has not only a salon deck upstairs but also facilities below deck.
Right now, we are in the process of planning an upgrade of the engine room. Our galley is very important because it keeps the crew and passengers very happy. The lift which is part of this project does its share to make the whole thing look more and more like a cruise ship. Great food, great entertainment, way to travel.
So, this is a modern ship, not a viking ship. Still, it has the symbolic significance undisturbed: this is a refuge and a place for fellowship as we move across the good times as well as the trying times of our lives. Nothing looks as comforting and homely as a ship in the night with all its small lights and an air of calmness around it as it sails along. We want to keep this ship sailing, for ourselves and the next generation because we know it’s needed. The seas as as deep and treacherous as ever, and the storms will come.
Now, let’s turn to some statistics. We have had one less service than in 2008 because of the snow last January. Average attendance at the Danish services is slightly down, at the English and bilingual slightly up so in all attendance is quite steady. We had no confirmation class last year, but we are back with five in the class this year so no major worries there. We still have more baptisms than memorials which is encouraging.
As the other activities go, we should notice the Sunday School which benefits greatly from Kristian’s splendid work with kids. Other young hands in our church are also most appreciated: volunteers Philip and of course Søren Mark who is doing an outstanding job for the church. Also, our small but very faithful youth choir is such a delight, and with these young people among us we have every reason to be optimistic about the future.
All these hands—the young and the older—that contribute to the upkeep and the cheer of this church are vital, not only to keep the ship in shape but also to keep the goal in sight. We are going somewhere, we have a mission and a message which keep us busy not only with and amongst ourselves but also in the outreach to anybody who want to come aboard even if just for a short visit. It is the message of Lord’s love and faithfulness towards us which keeps us faithful and happy as crew and passengers on His ship.
We recently had three young students from the University of Aarhus follow us for three weeks in order to figure out how this whole entity works as an organisation. I asked them to describe us with one word, and they said: Happy. In all the different groups and also in the everyday hard core group in this building, that is what they saw. Happy—and that is really what I experience, too. We are a happy congregation right now.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the auxiliaries, the board, and all the helpers at our many functions. I wish to thank Mogens and Bodil for our daily cooperation in small and bigger things. You are doing a great job, and it is a pleasure and honour to work with you. Thank you to Janet for make the music and the youth choir contribute beautifully to our services. and to Dorrit and her team of deacons who make our services work so well. Thank you to Ingrid Holm and Flemming for keeping the church so nice and clean. In the hands of Poul Erik, Jack and all those helping them, the upkeep is admirable. It is a privilege to the pastor here, and I thank you all.
Bodil Toftdahl, Pastor.