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Thursday, 15 June 2017

English-looking Church but a family from around the world at St Alban's Copenhagen.

Passers-by and tourists on the way to visit the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, are often surprised when they come across what looks like a traditional English parish church, St Alban's. Although designed in the English Gothic Revival style by the great architect Sir Arthur Blomfield, visitors and tourists will, on closer inspection, see that this beautiful building is much more than an English Church, but the home to a wonderfully diverse and international Christian community. 225 persons are on the electoral roll, and they hail from more than 30 different countries around the world.

St Alban's ministry to tourists is impressive. About 50 volunteers who welcome huge numbers of visitors each day from spring to autumn, with guide-notes to the Church available in over a dozen languages. Literally thousands of persons each year, who might not otherwise enter a Church building, are given a warm and friendly word from one of the volunteers, and invited to enjoy a moment of peace in the tranquil beauty of the building.

On Trinity Sunday confirmations were celebrated, with the Church filled to capacity. The candidates each came from different backgrounds: Danish, Dutch, Ugandan, Californian, Australian, Nigerian and British (via several places in the Middle East!). Trinity Sunday was an excellent feast to celebrate our baptism into the Threefold Name. The candidates reminded themselves of their own baptism by signing themselves with the sign of the cross at the font, acknowledging that even with their diverse backgrounds, they are one in Christ.

The Christian life is lived not primarily in the church, but in the world, loving our neighbour, and seeking peace and justice. The newly confirmed carried candles through the Church out into the world to symbolise their commitment to building the Kingdom of God in Copenhagen and beyond.  

Following the Eucharist, the Church Council chaired by Chaplain, the Revd Darrin McCallilg, met with me to explore together some general features of parish life. We had a lively discussion about where the many Church activities were thought to be "adding value" to the kingdom of God, and where there was yet some untapped, latent resources to call upon from among the members to further extend St Alban's ministry and mission. Already St Alban's has the largest average Sunday attendance of any Church in the Danish capital.

We had just heard the news of Bishop Geoffrey's death that morning, and we said prayers for the repose of his soul at the meeting.

All photos are courtesy of Mia Enns

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