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Churches in times of change
Ressources and recordings from webinars

Ressources and recordings from webinars

Below you will find recordings from the webinars Spring 2021. For a full program of the webinars, please visit the page 'How to engage and registration for webinars'. 

Webinar 1: The Future of Baptism in the Nordic Countries 

Full title: The future of baptism in the Nordic countries. What does statistics tell us, and what is
the response of the churches?

Date: Wednesday 10th March 13-15 (CET)

1. Josephine Ganebo Skantz, Analyst, Department of Analysis and Research,
Central Church Office, SE
2. Jarmo Kokkonen, Rev., Dr., Director/Education and Family Affairs, National Church
Council, ELCF, FI
3. Steinunn Björnsdóttir, parish minister, ELCI, IS
4. Bjarke Mortensen, information worker at Centre for Pastoral Education
and Research, DK

Chair: Harald Hegstad

Introductory text: Statistics show a steady decline in the number of baptism in the Nordic folk
churches. In the first part of this webinar, statisticians will present analyses of this numbers, and
discuss future scenarios of this development. 

Materials: Jarmo Kokkonen presentation

Webinar 2: Why should I baptize my child?

Full title: Why should I baptize my child? Qualitative perspectives on new patterns in infant baptism

Date: Wednesday 24th March 13-15 (CET)

1. Ida Marie Høgh, Professor in sociology of religion, University of Agder, NO
2. Karen Marie Sø Leth-Nissen, Researcher, ph.d., at University of Copenhagen, DK
3. Comment: Hanna Salomäki, Director at Church Research Institute, FI

Chair: Steinunn Björnsdottír, Jonas Adelin Jørgensen

Introductory text: While infant baptism used to be a tradition that was taken for granted by most people, in our time baptizing one’s child is today more often a result of a conscious choice. Through empirical data, researchers have been able to analyze reasons for such choices and the cultural pattern they are embedded in. In this webinar, recent research will be presented and discussed.

Webinar 3: Bless, not baptize

Full title: Bless, not baptize. Could blessing of children be an alternative when parents choose not to baptize?

Date: Wednesday 7th April 13-15 (CET)

1. Kristján Valur Ingólfsson, bishop em., ELCI; IS
2. Christina Grenholm, Secretary for the church, professor of systematic theology,
Church of Sweden
3. Comment: Terje Hegertun, Professor in systematic theology, MF Norwegian School
of Theology, Religion and Society, NO.

Chair: Karin Tillberg

Introductory text: Many parents who choose not to baptize their child, still want to have a connection to the church for themselves and their children. Often they want the child to chose for itself when it gets older. Others are influenced by a Baptist understanding of baptism, in which a conscious choice is important. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland has developed a litturgy for blessings of children as an alternative to baptism. Other Nordic churches do not want to use such liturgies. In this webinar we will discuss sociological, theological and ecumenical aspects of this question.

Webinar 4: Marketing of Baptism

Full title: Marketing of baptism. How have churches found new ways of communicating baptism?

Date: Monday 10th May 13-15 (CET)
1. Ingeborg Dybvig, NO
2. Lena Andersson & Marcel Salinder, SE

3. Halldór Reynisson, IS
4. Comment: Laura Kokkonen, FI

Chair: Steinunn Björnsdottir

Introductory text: As a response to the decline in the number of baptisms, Nordic churches
has developed new form of communication about baptism. This includes printed material,
use of social media, advertising in magazines, and cinema commercials. In this webinar
people responsible for communication in the churches will present what they have done
and the thinking behind it. Their presentation will be commented from a media scholarly


Webinar 5: The meaning of baptism in our time

Full title: The meaning of baptism in our time. Where are the resources for a contemporary
baptismal theology?

Date: Thursday 20th May 13-15 (CET).

1. Anna-Karin Hammar, SE
2. Harald Hegstad, NO
3. Niels Henrik Gregersen, DK
4. Comment: Orthodox theologian, ass. prof Pekka Metso, FI

Chair: Jyri Komulainen

Introductory text: A traditional theology of baptism does not always make sense to people
today. Ideas of salvation, eternal life, forgiveness of sins etc is often difficult to connect
to daily life experiences. A promise of salvation for those who are baptized raises the
question for the status of the non-baptized. Are there resources in a theology of creation
that can be exploited for a more relevant baptismal theology

Webinar 6: Baptism after corona

Theme: Baptism after corona

Date: Tuesday 7th September 1300-1500 CET

• Josephine Ganebo Skantz, (SE, Dept. for Analysis
and Research, Svenska Kyrkan)
• Bjarke Mortensen, (DK, Folkekirkens Videns- og Ud[1]dannelsescenter)
• Berit Weigand Berg (DK, Kirkefondet)
• Dr. Veli-Matti Salminen (FI, Church Research
• Comment: Niclas Blåder, diocese theologian at the Diocesan Office, Stockholm

Webinar 7: Baptism and religious pluralism

The Nordic folk finds themselves in an increasingly pluralistic situation regarding religion and world views. This represents a changed context for the practice and understanding of baptism. While baptism in earlier times was practiced in a society where almost everyone were baptized, baptism today is one option among many. The reality of interreligious families, where family members do not share a common religious affiliation, represents a particular challenge. This situation challenges the churches’ practices and interpretations of baptism in a profound way.



  • Sunniva Gylver (NO, Den Norske Kirke)
  • Ane Kristine Brandt (DK, Folkekirke og Religionsmøde)
  • Kati Tervo-Niemelä (FI, University of Eastern Finland)

Webinar 8: Practicing baptism in a new time - drop in baptism

In the last years, the Nordic folk churches has developed new practices related to baptism. This applies to the setting and context baptism is practiced, as well the liturgical performance. Among these new practices is the practice of drop-in-baptisms, which has become quite popular in several of the Nordic countries. In this webinar we will focus on experiences and research related to drop-in baptism, and discuss dilemmas and challenges that arises from this practice, including the educational aspect: How can we secure that baptism is prepared or followed up by sufficient instruction in the Christian faith?

Welcome and introduction
Presentation by Stein Ellinggard, NO
Presentation by René Høeg, DK
Presentation by Jussil Laine, FI
Comments by members of research group
Break out groups
General discussion

Webinar 9: Baptism and Ecotheology

By the use water in the sacrament of baptism, we are linked to nature as the creation of God. This symbolic element connects the theology and practice of baptism to one of the most urgent issues for church and society today, namely the integrity of the natural world. In this webinar we ask how baptismal theology and practice might contribute to the development of an eco-theology, and vice versa: how a renewed eco-theological consciousness might contribute to the understanding of baptism. In particular, we ask how the experiences of indigenous people might contribute to this.


Presentations by Sigríður Guðmarsdóttir, Lovisa Mienna Sjöberg, and Panu Pihkalai