The Danish church will for the first time teach priests on missionizing for Muslims in Denmark.
There are several neighborhoods in Denmark where there are so many Muslims that Christians are a minority. In a course starting by October, the Church will teach the priests how to work in an area with many Muslims and how to missionize.
The aim is partially for Muslims to better know the religion of the Danes and thereby lower tensions, and partially to convert some Muslims to Christianity.
Berit Schelde Christensen, general secretary of Church and Dialogue (Folkekirke og Religionsmøde), which is organizing the course, says that there are more and more parishes where Christians are a minority, and they want to make Christianity more visible in those areas.
The course, which will last two years, will teach the priests, how to prepare Muslims for baptism and how to clearly explain the Christian message to Muslims.
Berit Schelde Christensen stresses that Danish priest will not go out knocking on doors with bible in hand. He say it doesn't work and it's not the Christian way of doing things. Rather they will do so through their actions and good example. For example, by arranging dialog groups where Muslims and Christians can talk about the differences between Jesus and Mohammed. By visiting Muslim schools and speaking with imams. And but celebrating holidays with Muslims or inviting them to Christmas celebrations. When dialog is established, it would be natural to speak of belief in God, she says.
Things are changing in Gellerup parish in Aarhus. Fifteen years ago about 100 teenagers sat in the Gellerup parish church on confirmation day. Today, only two showed up. In the past school chidren went to service on Christmas and Easter, today they go to Friday prayers in the mosque.
Gellerup parish, in the center of Gellerup park in Aarhus, is one of the few areas in Denmark where Christians are a minority. 75% of the parish residents are Muslims.
The local priest, Annette Bennedsgaard, sees it as a challenge, and say the remaining Christians have been strengthened in their faith. When one's religion is forced into a corner people realize what is the basis of Christianity.
Annette Bennedsgaard is one of the priests to take the Church's new course. She says that 'missionizing' has been seen as a bad word, related to Christian missionaries forcing Jesus down the throat of the world's poor, but that it's not like that today.
Already today she says she does much to attract the local Muslims. Once a month she holds service in Arabic and she meets often with the local Muslims.
She says a few times Muslims have converted and that it's difficult. Islam is a more comprehensible and concrete religion than Christianity. Islam says how peole should live. Christianity is more diffuse. Many Muslims have the impression that Christianity is lukewarm and that hte Danes don't take it seriously.
She says that as a priest she hopes that more people will begin to believe, but she wishes just as much that people will be able to live together, since everybody is God's children.
Danish imam and convert Abdul Wahid Pedersen says that if Danish missionaries living in Pakistan for 20 years had not managed to convert Muslims, they should not have more hopes at home.
Source: Nyhedsavisen 1, 2 (Danish), h/t Hodja (Danish)
See also: Denmark: Nørrebro Parish priest says local church attracts the most people due to competition from Islam, only 20% of neighborhood kids are Danish