Diocese blames thinning population for church closures but announces three new churches for rapidly growing city districts
By Peter Stanners
Christian worshippers in Copenhagen may have to travel farther on Sundays after the Copenhagen diocese, Købehavns Stiftsråd, on Tuesday selected 14 churches for closure.
From a shortlist of 17 churches, the diocese chose only to save Enghave Church. The fates of the remaining two churches will be decided at a later date.
“We have made a historic decision,” Copenhagen’s bishop Peter Skov-Jakobsen wrote in a press release. “It means that we can now turn our attention toward the future.”
The 14 churches slated for closure have faced dwindling visitor numbers caused both by a historically low membership of the Church of Denmark, Folkekirken, and a thinning population in some areas of Copenhagen.
In 1960, there were 76 churches in four of the capital region’s main councils – Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Tårnby and Dragør – serving a population of around 890,000. By 1990, however, the number of churches jumped to 91 while the population fell to 540,000.
The decision to save Enghave Church was due to its proximity to the Carlsberg district of Copenhagen, which is expected to grow rapidly in the years to come. The diocese also announced the planned construction of three new churches in the districts of Sydhavn, Nordhavn and Ørestaden, which are also expected to grow.
“The Church of Denmark will still provide churches that Copenhageners can attend near where they live,” Skov-Jakobsen wrote. “That is why we need to build new churches in the city’s new districts, while also closing churches where the population density is not what it once was.”
The diocese’s recommendations were sent to the Ministry of Equality and Churches for the final decision on which churches to close.