Evangelisch-Lutherische Volkskirche in Dänemark

Christianity came to Denmark around 825 when Ansgar, a Benedictine monk from France, became apostle to the North. Around 960 King Harald accepted Christianity as the official religion in Denmark. The 1520s brought the Lutheran Reformation. In 1537 the new king was crowned and seven new superintendents were consecrated to replace the former bishops. With the constitution of 1849 the Evangelical Lutheran Church was established as a folk church supported by the state. The minister for ecclesiastical affairs is the highest administrative authority, and the bishops, each in his or her diocese, have the highest authority and responsibility for the teaching of the church. Since 1903, elected parish councils have been in charge of the affairs of the local churches. During recent years the self-determination of parish councils has increased. The Council on International Relations was established by law in 1989, responsible for the ecumenical and international relations of the church. In each diocese a committee for ecumenical work is elected. The church is divided into 12 dioceses. The bishops are elected by the parish councils and appointed by the queen. About 85 percent of the 5.3 million population are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. All formal connection between church and school has ceased, but still Christianity is part of the curriculum in elementary school. Nearly 80 percent of children aged 13-14 are confirmed.

The Sunday worship service is characterized by a strong emphasis on the eucharist, the sermon and not least the singing of the congregation. The new hymnbook, authorized in 2002 with 791 hymns, contains many translations from other languages, but the majority of the hymns are written by Danish writers, many of them by the most beloved one, N.F.S. Grundtvig.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church cooperates with ten other denominations in the National Council of Churches in Denmark. Many tasks for the church are taken care of primarily by voluntary organizations, for example diaconal work, youth work and mission, and they are understood as instruments of the church. Congregations are actively involved in the work of many of these organizations. Thirty-four missionary societies cooperate in the Danish Missionary Council. DanChurchAid (established 1922), which works for interchurch aid, development, human rights and areas of diaconal work abroad, is one of the oldest specialized ministries of its kind.