National report on migrant and multicultural churches in Norway

National report on migrant and multicultural churches in Norway

Multicultural network/Christian council of Norway

Oslo, May 2014,

 

Introduction

Globalization and human mobility is transforming our world today. Like many other nations, Norway is also undergoing greater demographic and social changes. As of 1.January 2014 the total population of Norway has reached 5 109 056 persons of which 759 185 or 14.9% with an immigrant background coming from 221 countries in the world (either migrated as adults or were born in Norway from one or two of their biological parents with migrant background.)

Statistics of faith communities in Norway

Of the total population in Norway 3 843 721 or (75.2%) are member of the Church of Norway, and 549 400 or 10,9 % members of faith communities outside of church of Norway. Christians are the largest group among faith communities outside of the Church of Norway followed by Islam and humanism. 312, 925 Christians, 120, 882 Muslims, 86, 061 humanists, 16, 001 Buddhist, 6,797 Hindu, 3323 Sikhs and 788 Jews. (2013 statistics)

Migrant and multicultural churches

The international migration and diversity it entails have brought home to Norway not only many world religions but also Christians from other cultures. Today parallel to the parishes of the Church of Norway and other Christian denominations, newer types of Churches or congregation started by immigrants are appearing everywhere. These churches are also called “migrant churches.” Migrant church is a term used to define “churches and congregations which have been founded by people with a recent migration background, are led by them, and have a majority of members from such a background (Claudia 2009:36).”

Contrary to the stereotypical media image with extreme focus on Muslims, a large number of immigrants in Norway have a Christian background. On their arrival in Norway, some of them join existing churches, while others start their own congregations.

Churches or congregations established by immigrants include

  • Churches by European and American immigrants such as the Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, American Lutheran, German and Anglican Churches.

 

  • Churches established in recent decades by immigrants especially from Asia, Africa and South America. Some of these congregations gather under the umbrella of national background, language or liturgical/confessional traditions. Some join and become members of the existing confessional structures like the Baptist union of Norway and the Pentecostal movement, while others remain independent congregations.

 

  • In addition, we have the Catholic Church in Norway with its various migrant chaplaincies serving diverse migrant communities with different national backgrounds. 37 parishes of the Catholic Church in Norway celebrate mass in more languages than Norwegian. Oslo diocese with its various nationality/language backgrounds (Burmese, Croatian, Eritrean, French, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Pilipino, Spanish, Syrian, Tamil, Ukrainian, Vietnamese) based migrant chaplaincies serve a thriving Catholic community through out the country.

 

  • We also have diverse Orthodox churches (parishes) each with its own national/confessional background. (Holy Nikolai, Russian, Rumanian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Greek, Coptic/Egyptian, Ethiopian and Eritrean orthodox Churches)

 

  • Many migrant churches which are language or nationality of origin based gatherings; but in recent years we also have a growing number of multi-ethnic and international congregations.

 

In many ways, due to international immigration world Christianity with its diverse forms and expressions has come home to Norway. In sum, there are more than 250 congregations of various size and theological and confessional background spread in the whole of Norway.

For more information consult: www.migrantmenigheter.no

By Lemma Desta

Multicultural network/Christian council of Norway

Reference:

  • Claudia, Wåhrsich-oblau, (2009) the Missionary Self-Perception of Pentecostal/Charismatic Church Leaders from the Global South: Bringing Back the Gospel. Leiden: E.J. Brill

 

  • Minifacts about Norway 2014 (SSB)

 

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