Comment by: Thor Lanesskog
If you come to Norway and visit a church, be prepared to find closed doors. Of about 3,000 churches spread over 1280 parishes, only a few hold open except from Sunday worship, baptisms, weddings and funerals. Many churches are permanently closed due to lack of maintenance and are in danger of being demolished.
The Norwegian Church, formerly the State Church, is the largest religious community in Norway and until 21 May 2012 the official religion. Today, about 77% of the population is member of the Lutheran denomination, but the number is decreasing.
The pastors are paid by the Norwegian state and are thus a state responsibility. When it comes to church buildings, the municipalities are responsible for construction costs, operation and maintenance – in addition to expenses for sacristan, verger and organist.
This is the main cause of the problem: Several Norwegian municipalities have poor economy and must prioritize municipal services. Operating churches are losing the battle against education, health care and road construction, and the result is closed doors.
ThorNews thinks the development is sad for several reasons: The Church – the House of God – should be open for prayer, meditation and quiet contemplation for those who need this. In addition, our churches are an important part of Norwegian heritage, and demolition is unacceptable – not least for future generations. It is puzzling that in other countries where the operation and salaries depends on private donations, the doors are open and the churches are well maintained.
We understand that the poor state of municipal finances is a major cause of the neglect of these beautiful and important buildings, but find it embarrassing that one of the world’s richest countries can not find the money for operation and maintenance. Here, the Norwegian government and people must show responsibility so that the Norwegian Church becomes “the Church of Open Doors”.
Photo by: ThorLanesskog, ThorNews