Abstracts and speakers

Session 1:

Methodological challenges in estimating Christian migrant groups in Denmark

Brian Arly Jacobsen, University of Copenhagen

Demography of religion is about the geographical spread of different religions, the number of adherents and the quantitative changes in the size and the composition of the followers over time. It is also the purpose to make a snapshot of the demography of different religions, this means discussing tendencies in number, size and gender, generational and ethnic composition.  Demography of religion is a subject which is interesting for both scholars of religion and the public.

This paper will present a method to assess the number of migrants with a Christian background. Until now it has been difficult to put believable numbers on religious affiliation because migrants do not necessarily join existing Christian denominations or Christian migrant denominations do not have a tradition of membership registration on an individual basis, as is known from, for example, the Danish National Church. In addition, Denmark don’t have a political tradition for registration of people’s religious adherence. The absence of a central register places the assignment on gathering numbers on religious adherence and the composition of the religious group regarding sex, age etc. with the demographers of religion.

The method presented here has previously been used to estimate the number of Muslims in Denmark, and the method can generally be used in countries without censuses or surveys, which are not able to register such small minorities as, for example, Christian migrant groups.


In Pursuit of Identity: Chronicles and Dynamics of Ghanaian Christian Migration

Karen Lauterbach and Dorothy Antwi Boasiako, University of Copenhagen

There is a widely perpetuated cliché that Africans are highly and inherently religious. Therefore, wherever Africans find themselves, their religion is duly represented. This is true with the Ghanaian migrant community in Denmark. Religion, to a large extent, forms the basic component of their socialisation, aside parties. For most of these Ghanaian Pentecostal churches, the need to successfully integrate, expand, take over and form a strong bond is very important: it is what defines their identity.

There are several factors that become the bane of this pursuit of identity. Notably of these are the language, a place of worship, membership and staffing. Furthermore, most of the African churches nevertheless prefer to remain in their transnational/ethnic community churches, and as a result there is wide springing up of ‘mushroom churches’, resulting in the inability of these migrant churches to form their identity and to make the impact they desire.

In the presentation, we will be discussing the case of one Ghanaian church, the God’s Ambassadors International Church.. We will be discussing the varied layers of identity formation of the Ghanaian church in light of these challenges.



Session 2:

The catechetical challenge:
Faith education in the multicultural Catholic Church of Norway

Anders Aschim, professor & Ole Kolbjørn Kjørven

Rapid growth in recent years, mainly due to immigration, has made the Roman Catholic Church the most numerous Christian minority in Norway. Faced with migration-related diversity, the Church has adopted a multicultural strategy. Migrant chaplains offer Mass and pastoral care in the native languages of the most numerous immigrant groups. Still, the vision of a common Norwegian Catholicism has not been abandoned. Catechetical teaching, the organised faith education programme for children and youth, is in principle offered in Norwegian language for all participants. In practice, however, supplementary or alternative teaching in other languages is sometimes offered. This may be due to differences in language skills, pedagogical and cultural expectations, and/or familiarity with religious practice and belief. In addition to the unity/diversity issue, two further challenges may be mentioned: The rapidly growing number of children and youth creates an increasing need for competent catechists. And Catholic families are settled in almost every corner of Norway, in rural districts often far away from the nearest Catholic church. How do Catholic dioceses and parishes approach these challenges in their catechetical efforts? The paper reports preliminary findings of a pilot study in preparation for a four-year research project Non-formal faith education, the public school, and religious minorities in Norway (FAITHED), funded by the Research Council of Norway.

New Face of Catholicism in Sweden
Ryszard Bobrowicz, Lund University

Historically persecuted, the Roman Catholic Church has been growing in Sweden since the establishment of the Diocese of Stockholm in 1953. A community with many faces, Catholicism grew primarily as a result of migration. Today there are 16 national missions from Europe, Africa and Asia, and provisions for Oriental-Catholic Churches, including Arabic, Armenian, Chaldean, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Maronite, Melkite, Syriac, and Syro-Malabar. The influence of migration has significant consequences: on the shape of particular communities, on the structure of diocese, and on the role that the Church plays in society and the broader Catholic Church. In my paper, I will take a closer look at the practical and theological meaning of migration for the Catholic Church in Sweden, and Catholicism more general.


”Suddenly a small table appeared in the church room…”  - Church of Sweden and the New Christian Landscape.

Kristina Helgesson Kjellin, Church of Sweden Research Department and Uppsala University

Christian migration is in various ways changing parishes in Church of Sweden from within.

“Framtiden bor hos oss” (“The future lives with us”) is a network of parishes in Church of Sweden. These parishes are situated in districts characterized by great cultural and religious diversity, as well as by social unrest, such as high unemployment figures and ill health. The parishes in the network have, in comparison with other parishes in Church of Sweden, few members. However, they are nevertheless important rooms in the districts where people of various backgrounds meet in language cafés, to share a meal, or to worship together. The network has as an explicit standpoint to be open towards cultural and religious diversity.

Building on extensive anthropological fieldwork in several parishes in the network, this paper gives examples of how Christian migration is influencing Church of Sweden. Openness towards Christian diversity is not without challenges. Different values and theological interpretations concerning, for instance gender or same-sex marriage, come to the fore in daily interactions. This paper illuminates some of these challenges that range from differences in relation to aesthetics and worship styles, to theological interpretations and forms of interaction, where power dimensions are made visible.


Session 3:

Working towards God: Filipino Catholic Work Migrants in Denmark

Astrid Krabbe Trolle, Roskilde University

During the last decades, the Catholic Church in Denmark has seen a rise in numbers due to recent work migration. In this presentation, I discuss how a particular group within the Catholic Church, namely the Filipino Catholics, combine shifting work conditions with their religious practice. The emphasis is on how individuals cultivate different forms of religiosity through experiences of workplace and work content, bringing studies of labor migration together with insights from the study of religion. One of the Christian motives among the Catholics active in lay movements is the idea of missionizing in the North, and here family and work relations become important as a measure for individual effort. The material is based on my PhD thesis on Filipino Catholic Migrants in Copenhagen from 2019.


From commuter to village dweller – Rumanian orthodox migrants in rural districts in Denmark”
Emil Saggau, Lund University

Denmark and Scandinavia has – as the rest of Western Europe – seen a surge in Rumanian migrants since the EU enlargement in 2007. In Denmark has the Rumanian migrant community grown to around 40.000 persons in less than twenty years with at least 20 or so congregations across the country-side, which makes the Rumanian Orthodox Church the fastest growing migrant church in Denmark. However, fairly little is known about this migrant-group, its composition, religiosity and migrant-patterns. This paper address this and more particular the role and perception of both the Danish Lutheran Church and the Orthodox Church within this migrant group.

The paper is based on field work in three Danish rural dioceses (Ribe, Haderslev and Viborg) in 2021, as part of a pilot-project in partnership between scholars, Danish ecclesial NGO’s and the Danish Lutheran Church. The sources range from 6 group-interviews, aprox. 100 questionnaires, a series of field sites observations and statistical material, which in total provide the first glimpse into the transformation of church-life in rural settings due to these new group of migrants. 

Priests as institutional entrepreneurs

In the aftermath of the 2004 EU/EEA expansion, several countries in Northern and Western Europe has received a large flow of labour migrants from Eastern Europe, and from Poland in particular. This has affected Catholic parishes in two significant ways: A large increase in membership and church attendance, and a radical change in the demographic profile of the Church. There are several examples of rapid demographic changes in parishes resulting in long lasting internal conflicts (i.e. Trzeboiatowska 2010; Mæland 2016). Still, examples of more harmonic transitions, often facilitated by the clergy, exist (i.e. Hoover 2014; Gray & Lago 2011). In the paper we will present results from a case study from Western Norway of the interaction between a Norwegian and a Polish priest in a local parish experiencing dramatic demographic changes due to Polish migration. We discuss the following questions: How has this rapid demographic change challenged the local Catholic community? How did the two priests respond to this situation? How has their response affected the internal dynamics within the parish and the relations to the wider local religious community? Our theoretical framework is inspired by field theory, as developed by Fligstein and McAdam in A Theory of Fields (2012). 

Page Manager: itht.luse | 2022-01-14