Norwegian Church Holds Name Change Ceremony for Transgender Woman
The Church of Norway is known for its overtly liberal stance on social issues such as immigration, LGBT and environmental rights. In combination with Norwegian society becoming more secular, this is seen as one of the reasons for why it has been steadily losing membership, together with other Nordic churches.
The Hoff church north of Oslo has made history as it carried out a name change ceremony for a transgender person, the first one in a place of worship in Norway.
Elin Stillingen, 49, completed the legal change of name and gender in 2020 and decided to celebrate the event through a church ceremony. 'She' noted that it is of special importance for her as a churchgoer.
“I’m a member of the Norwegian church, and I’m also about to come 'out of the closet' as a Christian, so this ceremony is important to me,” the 49-year-old told TV2.
The ceremony was supported in the planning process by the Stensveen Foundation, an NGO that provides support to people with challenges related to their gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender expression.
“I know that so many are grateful that this event has come true because this goes deep into the lives of people,”, Pastor Stein Ovesen, who led the event, said, according to TV2.
However, he did acknowledge that some in Norway disapprove of holding such a ceremony in church environments.
“On the conservative wing, you will find priests who are deeply concerned about what we do today. But for me, this is an important act that expresses the grace and openness that God shows me,” Ovesen concluded.
The Church of Norway is an evangelical Lutheran denomination of Protestantism, and by far the largest Christian church in Norway, embracing about 68 percent of the population. However, in recent decades, it has been leaking worshippers at a constant rate, much like fellow Scandinavian churches, which have seen a marked drop in the number of baptisms, confirmations, weddings and burials.