16 churches from 6 Copenhagen deaneries have been listed for closure by the Diocesan Council of Copenhagen. The main reason given is demographic changes over the years leading to underuse and overspending to keep ailing churches alive.
“In the course of the last 50 years the population has decreased markedly in many areas,” says Bishop of Copenhagen, Peter Skov-Jakobsen in a press release. “It has been a difficult decision. These churches contain many feelings, for here people have worshipped and rejoiced over new births and new loves and mourned their losses and sad memories. But the Diocesan Council has agreed unanimously that we must adapt to the changing circumstances.
Chair of the Copenhagen Diocesan Council, Inge Lise Pedersen, adds that closing some churches will strengthen others nearby.
Aalholm Kirke fights for its life
In the coming months the 16 churches will be able to argue their case before the list is handed to the Minister for Church Affairs, Manu Sareen, in November for the final decision. One church that will fight its corner is Aalholm Kirke in the suburb of Valby, where Pastor Ole Petersen finds it difficult to understand the decision to close his church. “We have on average 45 churchgoers at Sunday service“, he tells the daily, Berlingske Tidende. “We are financially viable, and have an active congregational life. The decision is simply wrong.”
Aalholm Parish Council is fighting the diocesan decision. On their website and elsewhere they are drumming up support with 4 major reasons for staying open:
- You don’t close a ’branch’ that is making a profit; you close one that isn’t.
- There are 5 other churches in our deanery with a lower membership percentage than ours, which is 69.17 %. A number of other parishes also have fewer members to keep their church running, whereas Aalholm has 5,142 church members.
- Aalholm Kirke was built through house-to-house collections during the 1930s. It really is ’our church’, and it would be immoral, almost a theft, to take it from us.
- Our budgets have always been sensible and stuck to, whereas other parishes have spent millions on community centres, modernising or renovating their churches, buying expensive works of art etc.