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New Christian Council of Norway spans all major churches

Oslo/Norway, 04.04.2006 / ENI/APD

The two ecumenical councils will merge

The two ecumenical councils will merge

into one in September2006

Two Christian church councils in Norway have agreed to form a new national church body spanning all the major churches including Lutheran, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Adventists and Pentecostal denominations

The new national grouping will formally be inaugurated on September 1, 2006, and results from the merger of the "Christian Council of Norway" (NKR) and the "Norwegian Free Church Council" (NFR). This merger was agreed by both bodies in separate meetings on March 30.

The NFR was founded in 1902 as an instrument for the free churches to promote their religious rights in a country where the (Lutheran) Church of Norway is a state church.

The NKR was established in 1992 as a council of churches with a broad ecumenical agenda, and grouping all major denominations except the Pentecostal Movement.

The willingness of representatives of the Pentecostal Movement to work together with the Roman Catholic Church has been seen as a key element in the founding of the new grouping, which in English will be known as the "Christian Council of Norway" (CCN).

Torsten Mentzoni, the pastor of the Tabernaklet Pentecostal Congregation in Bergen, told the national daily newspaper Vart Land that one reason why Pentecostal Christians in Norway had been reticent to work with the Roman Catholic Church had been the experience of their counterparts in Latin America, where Catholics are in a majority.

"We've seen strong antagonism in these countries, and we've had negative experiences with the Roman Catholic Church there," said Mentzoni. "However, although we are sceptical about the Roman Catholic Church as such, we've come to see Catholics in Norway as fellow Christians."

Mentzoni said he hoped the new climate between Catholics and Pentecostals in Norway would have positive effects in other parts of Europe.

Else-Britt Nilsen, the general prioress of Dominican sisters in Norway and France, said the charismatic movement has now become part also of the Roman Catholic Church. "I've met Pentecostals with a positive attitude to my church," she told Vart Land. "When we get to know each other, we come closer."

She said churches in a secularised society needed to cooperate, noting, "We have the Christian faith in common. Catholics and Pentecostals are often close in moral issues."

Also taking part the newly established Christian Council of Norway is the Norwegian Seventh-day Adventist Church. As a full member of the NFR, they will join the CCN in the status of an Observer member church. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has 71 local congregations with over 4.600 adult baptized members. For the Norwegian Adventists, Tor Tjeransen, president of the Norwegian Union, has participated in the merger process of the two councils. According to a spokesperson of the CCN, Pastor Tjeransen played the role of a counsellor and gave some useful suggestions for the completion of preparatory documents.

The two church groupings that are merging have shared offices at Oslo's Church House since 2000. [Editors: Oivind Ostang and Christian B. Schaeffler for ENI/APD, with additional input from Ørnulf Steen]

(3'191 Chars)

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