This weekend I have played for 2 of the 9 confirmation services that are held across the Lenvik area in the next couple of weeks. Because the vast majority of the Norwegian population are members of the national church, a lot of services are required to cope with the numbers.
Confirmation in Norway is not what is under stood in the UK and USA – there is no profession of faith and no promises made (here is an excellent explanation). However, it is a big thing and the church is packed (apparently about 600 people in each of the 4 services at Finnsnes Church), so it’s also a good gospel opportunity.
A friend took some pictures for me (see below) and here is an explanation of what you are seeing:
- The church is packed and it’s standing room only.
- Unlike in UK / USA, there is no ‘prelude’ music before regular Norwegian services, hence the empty organ bench!
- At the front of the church is a cross with a single candle, which will be used later in the service.
- The service begins with a long introduction to the first hymn as the pastor and confirmands process in.
- The youth minister, Frank Stellmacher, leads the service, assisted by young people. A group of singers helped lead the congregation, a young man read the lessons, and later in the service young people helped with the supper (communion). I guess I must be an honourary young person too.
- The thank offering (collection) is taken in a unique way. People process around the communion table, on which is a basket for their offerings.
- After hymns / songs, readings, the sermon, and the offering, comes the confirmation itself. The confirmands come in pairs to the rail at the front of church where Frank prays for them. At the same time, parents are invited to collect a candle from the font, light it and place it on the cross.
- I think the camera was then full, but after the confirmations, there is communion and then a procession out of the church.
A lot of people wear their traditional Norwegian clothes. Each area of Norway has its own design / style. I didn’t take any pictures specifically of the dress as I think that might have been rude, and made me seem like a tourist! The most local areas had the largest representation of dress, but there were probably 10 – 15 styles in total, including a family in Sami dress. Final, there’s a picture of Frank in clerical attire.
I can report that as well as doing an excellent job leading the singing, the girls were also the best dressed group I have had the pleasure of working with. Thank you all.