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    View of the main square and the church in downtown Aeroeskoebing, on the small Danish island of Aeroe August 30, 2012

    Denmark Debuts 'Express Baptism' Amid Dwindling Church Numbers

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    The fast-track baptism only lasts several minutes and includes a brief chat with the minister, a quick immersion, and even refreshments offered by the church.

    Amid waning membership, the Church of Denmark has lowered the bar for potential church members and is now hosting impromptu christenings, The Local reported.

    Since the premiere of the so-called drop-in ceremonies in 2017, more than 600 people have been christened this way. The new converts are a motley crew, from parents baptising their children and teens wanting to be confirmed, to sick people and urbanites looking for a sense of purpose.

    Peter Skov-Jakobsen, the bishop of Copenhagen, described the sacrament as "the beginning of the journey" in the Lutheran faith for new worshippers. According to him, the act of baptism doesn't require exhaustive preparation or verification of extensive knowledge of the Bible.

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    Skov-Jakobsen admitted that he sees a renewed interest in the Church through a need for spirituality in the contemporary era.

    "We have reached an age where people are actually realising there is more to life than what science can tell us", he said, as quoted by The Local.

    At the same time, Peter Skov-Jakobsen stressed that the Church of Denmark wasn't trying to be opportunistic in response to people's need for spirituality. Instead, the Church, which he described as a "movement for free minds", tries to "remain relevant" in Danish society, he explained.

    Astrid Krabbe-Trolle, a lecturer in religious studies at the University of Copenhagen, sees less formal christenings as a way of showing the Church's openness.

    "It is really saying, 'Okay, we are a Church for everybody, you can just come in and we have no expectations of you other than you getting baptised'", she said.

    READ MORE: Denmark Will Cease to Be Lutheran by 2050 With Current Migration — Sociologist

    To join the church, all you need is some form of identification and some minutes to spare. A brief conversation with the minister to ensure that you're ready to embrace God is followed by a quick ceremony and refreshments offered by the church.

    The Church of Denmark maintains a liberal and reform-oriented view on many issues, having ordained its first female minister in 1948 and started marrying same sex couples in 2012.

    Meanwhile, membership in the Church of Denmark has been steadily going down in recent decades, having dwindled from 91.6 percent in 1984 to 74.7 percent in 2019. The relatively high numbers are in many cases attributed to mere tradition rather than faith. While 64 percent of Danes describe themselves as Christian, only 2.4 percent of Denmark's population of 5.8 million are regular church attenders.

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    The Church of Denmark relies on its members for financing through a tax levied on adult members of the congregation.

    Its Nordic peers in Sweden and Norway, also plagued by a similar decline in membership, have also adopted less formal baptism ceremonies in hopes to attract the secularly-minded.

    Related:

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    Church, Christianity, faith, Scandinavia, Denmark
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