The Danish Church has had a congregation in Melbourne for 25 years.
There is church services with the Danish priest once a month (as a general rule the 2nd Sunday of the month), where we borrow the lovely church and premises of the Swedish church.
Membership of the Danish Church in Melbourne costs $75 / $50 concession per household. If you would like to become a member, please contact the Church office in Sydney.
The Danish Church in Melbourne’s history – a quick overview
by Gitte Lindgaard, former committee member
Back in 1859, a diligent Danish lay pastor, Henrik Hansen, tried to establish a German-Danish Lutheran congregation in Australia by alternately giving sermons in Danish and German. After 1864 the Danes were less than enthusiastic about the German, so in 1870 the brave man had to give up his good deed.
Since then there have been Danish priests in Australia occasionally, but the establishment of a real Danish church was only possible in 1987. That’s when the Danish Church Abroad (DKU), as it was then, received an anonymous gift of 1 million Danish kroner to establish a Danish church in Sydney.
In April 1988, Pastor Folmer Johansen arrived, officially inaugurated in July. Thanks to our former Consul General Erik Jensens, and the diligent President of DACS, Ole Abildgaards, Pastor Johansen was also received in Melbourne and deployed by Erik Jensen the following Sunday.
Extensive negotiations with the Swedish Church in Melbourne and Sydney had led us here in Melbourne to be very warmly welcomed in the Swedish church which has been ‘at home’ in Toorak House since 1956. The relationship with the Swedes was also very nice at that time. For many years, some of us had helped with the bazaar, and we were 7-8 Danes who actively participated in the Scandinavian choir and the Swedish worship services.
The fantastic relationship between the church, DACS, and the Danish club, Dannebrog, can easily be explained by the fact that it was almost the same people who showed up everywhere. So when DACS organized films or lectures in the church, we often arranged a small lottery that gave us elbow room to buy our own items for the bazaar as our service to our Swedish hosts. The money also allowed us to give distressed Danes a helping hand.
After Folmer and Else’s four years in Australia, where they had successfully managed to get the church their own house in Sydney – Pastor Henrik True took over the office and continued the now regular monthly church service in Melbourne.
Our relationship with Henrik was a little different, perhaps not quite as outgoing as Folmer (Henrik, for example, did not go hands on revue night to demonstrate that you had to go head down when you were in Australia), but besides Being a fine preacher, Henrik also proved to be a strong business talent. He established deliveries from the Sæby fishing industry, so now the canned marshals came running, which we sold in tons after the service with good profits. Later, they were supplemented with other delights and other goods ranging from dishwashing brushes to medicine sausages that kept the church budget going.
With Lis Pitcher and Erik Jensen at the forefront, our local congregation council was actively engaged in all kinds of chores, but the central point was and still was trying to increase church membership and keep up to date with Danes in general.
Pastor Torben Ebbesen, who followed Henrik True, delivered sermons that touched on extremely current social and social policy topics, elegantly interwoven into today’s text. It sparked tremendous discussion in the subsequent church coffee.
Torben also attended many ward council meetings Saturday night, which in the afternoon gave him time to visit those who could not attend church or who needed church assistance.
When we reached the year 2000, Poul and I had to leave for Canada, so our memory of the Danish church in Melbourne ends.
We did not get to see Pastor Engholm, but now in return we enjoy having Bente among us. Lack of space prevents the many good souls who have lived in the church since 1988 can be mentioned by name here, but it is clear that the good will to care for our responsibility to both the Danish and Swedish churches is still flourishing.