We are as frail as our weakest member and as strong as our strongest member. We are not all alike, but we are all together in this. We celebrate our lives together, we comfort each other in mourning, we sing hymns of old and new, we listen to the word, and as such we are one. When we are disheartened, when we seek strength, we can turn to the Acts of the Apostles and see that the early Christians were every bit as strong and every bit as weak as we, that they too were only human. We will always be imperfect—but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a perfectly good time together!
Many of our celebrations have roots in Danish traditions, as do our rituals, but our body of members contains not only Danes and Swedes, Norwegians and Finns but people of First Nation, Asian and other European heritage.
We have a Danish pastor so that we may be reminded that there are more than one way of being church, no matter which tradition we come from. We have a Danish Kom-sammen that those who speak the Danish language may keep it fluent and hear about matters that may be close at heart for those who were born in Denmark or by Danish parents here. We get together for a couple of hours each month, learn a bit, sing and have a good time.
We share meals that are probably dearer to Danes than to others because to us they mean community, of old and new. Yet we share them gladly! And we give thanks to the many who make our times of community happen, at the church, at the Centre and in private homes. Without you something would be missing!
So we consider all able to receive the word and pass it on in his or her special way, and we have a pastor to challenge our perception, to pass knowledge on and to lead our services.
We are The Danish Lutheran Church and as such we are members of the DSUK, The Danish Churches Abroad, and they are such a wide variety, of temporary posts, of snowbirds, of minority Danes in Germany, of immigrants, that it is impressive we can all fit under one roof. And we realise that not all congregations are like ours, of first, second, third, fourth and even fifth generation in this area with spouses and friends and all others who are drawn to our way of being church. We know that most who have their baptisms, their confirmations, their weddings here may never think of Denmark as home, but they still want things the Danish way.
We belong in a community that is everything but Danish—and that is part of why we are here. We have neighbours and friends of many nationalities, languages and observation and we salute Canada for this diversity that broadens our perspectives on the world at large, even if we don’t agree with everything that happens here. We belong in a community and we contribute to it. We give to the Food Bank, we save up for the Lutheran Urban Mission Society (LUMS), we donate of our time, our money and our belongings.
Having grown up in democracies we have a lot to contribute to our area. We may not think of it as such, but we know how to act in democratic assemblies (even if we didn’t grow up with Robert’s Rules of order), and we respect that every person has a say even if we disagree with that person. We have an obligation to pass that on to our descendants, our neighbours and friends.
We are open to those who seek a place to belong in both church and community. We have an Open House once a month most months of the year, sometimes disguised as a Frikadelle Contest or a special movie night, but as a place where you can bring a friend who may also find a home here. Sometimes we need to take a closer look at who we are in order to figure out where to go from here. We break things down into digits, and we see that we could be a lot worse off but also that there is so much more we can do. In our church, in our community, in the church universal.
The statistics of 2012 are marked by the change in pastors.:
|All Danish services:||21|
|English & mixed services:||34|
|Total attendance 2012:||3350|
|Highest attendance, ord. service:||80||(English)|
|Five highest attendances of 2012|
|186||Goodbye to Bodil Toftdahl|
|131 & 101||Christmas Eve|
|127||Installment of Birgitte Saltorp|
|No. of services w/communion:||53|
|Danish services average:||23|
|English services average:||58|
|Lowest no. of participants:||16||(Danish)|
|2012||2013 so far|
|Hits 2nd half of 2011||135,374 hits|
|Hits 2012||336,057 hits|
|Other media: local papers, etc.|
|Most importantly, word of mouth!|
We do a lot for our members, but we also hold memorials, weddings and baptisms for non-members if they are Scandinavian or descendants of Scandinavians. And, you guessed it, we certainly hope the services we provide make more want to become members that our church may carry on for many years to come.
And we open our doors to the community at large through our rummage sales, our bazaars and many other events. We pass our traditions on as we teach new generations to braid hearts and stars, to make smørrebrød and smörgossbord. We pray for two queens, two royal families, and with them for two countries. Many hearts may be divided between a birthplace and the place we live, but this is where we have found our purpose. And we support each other through our strengths and our weaknesses, knowing that we would not be the same without each other. We have special ways of doing things, ways that change over time, and as different as we are we all have something to bring to the table. And we salute those who do just that!
We are part of the church universal, and therefore we always belong. And each new person who steps over the threshold is a friend-in-waiting, a brother or sister in Christ. We pass our faith and our belief in that every person counts on to the generations to come. We do so in words and in deed, all depending on who we are and how we are comfortable doing things.
We are the church and we have a lot to give. So pass it on!
Birgitte Saltorp, Pastor.