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The lowest number of membership withdrawals recorded in 15 years 

This is the fourth year in a row in which the number of memberships in the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark has decreased. 2021 marks the lowest number of withdrawals in 15 years. The corona pandemic is part of the explanation, according to expert 

 

More people choose to stay in the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark. This has been a tendency in recent years’ church statistics in which the number of resignations has stabilized at a low level. Since 2018 the rate of withdrawals has slightly decreased each year. 

In 2021 the trend continued with few active withdrawals, i.e. withdrawals that are not owing to bereavement or permanent relocation abroad. A total of 8961 terminated their membership in the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark last year, which is slightly less than in 2020, during which 9053 left the church. This is the lowest number of withdrawals since 2007.

The role of the health crisis 
Karen Marie Sø Leth-Nissen is a researcher at the Centre for Pastoral Education and Research and has previously researched the development of the church from the University of Copenhagen. She believes the corona crisis has led to fewer people leaving the church. 

“The crisis has strengthened the focus on what’s close to us and on the importance of being with family and experiencing the feeling of togetherness it brings. In relation to this, the rituals of the church offers both important occasions and settings for families to meet and be reminded of this togetherness.”

Another significant development that is evident in the statistics is the number of registrations, which has increased significantly in 2021. The number of registrations last year reached 12.097. The increase in new members is related to the fact that many infant baptisms were postponed in 2020, and thus many of the new members are the children who were finally able to be baptized in 2021. In Denmark, you automatically become a member of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church when you are baptized, and thus the increase in members stems from the belated infant baptisms which were performed in 2021. 

If you want to learn more about baptism in the Nordic countries, you can read about the project “Baptism in times of Change” which is a pilot project and part of the joint Nordic initiative Churches in Times of Change (CITC) which focuses on changes in ecclesial practice and theology in the Nordic region.

Read more about the project on the website here

 

This article is a translation of Andreas Lindbjerg Nielsen’s article from folkekirken.dk. Find it here.