Every few years we at the Danish Lutheran Church of Vancouver, B.C., sit down and dream a bit about where we might go in the future. We talk about our hopes and worries, we plan a little bit, and that way we hope to be better prepared for whatever the future brings.
Comments were made about the benefit we get from recollecting these things and reviewing them in this forum. It is important to keep talking about ongoing issues so that we become aware about what we are doing and are able to work towards some well defined goals. It might be a really good idea to put some of our initiatives into writing so that people can comment on them and give their input. It was suggested that we make a survey in some form in order to gather the opinion of a wider group of people than the actual church goers. A survey could be more or less elaborate but it could be a tool for the board to get an idea of how the Danish community would like to see the church develop. We have some options that we need to be aware of. We can choose to remain an immigrant church, mainly for the first generation of immigrants and concentrate our efforts on serving this group until they are no more. After that we could close, and that would be it. We can also choose to envision a future where more Danes are involved, either covering a greater area or catering to Danes who are here on a temporary basis or find ways to reach out to the third and fourth generations. Our discussion indicated that we will probably choose to extend our activities to all these three groups. A new initiative with Hymns for Babies was discussed, and there was a general feeling that this will be a good way to follow up on the baptisms and contact with young families. It was also mentioned that we might in time be able to extend this to older kids too and that way support our Sunday School. A Danish School would be the ultimate answer to this!
Our services: The general opinion was that we should continue to use the latest authorised ritual for our services and keep a conservative approach to changes. There was general approval of the way we incorporate some music now and then. as much as possible we should announce the music beforehand. It was recommended that the Youth Choir should sing from the balcony and not at the front of the church.
A suggestion was made to make the Fall Bazaar and the Spring Tea and Bake Sale into church events so that the income goes directly into the church and the planning of the events is done by all three auxiliaries together. That way, we will be able to create a new look for the Bazaar and the Spring Tea and Bake Sale and be able to expand on the booths which are the most popular. When everybody works together, it will be possible to coordinate things better for the overall benefit of the church. We will discuss this further at the upcoming board and auxiliaries planning meeting. We already have a few activities which work well this way: the Men’s Dinner, Frikadelle Competition, and the Christmas Workshop.
The kitchen project was discussed. We are of course very disappointed that we did not receive even a small support from A.P. Møller. However, we are not discouraged! We will continue to search for funding from all the sources we can think of. There was a strong feeling that we should split the project up into smaller sections and do one at a time as far as we can find the funding. Phase one would be the excavating and concrete building of the storage space, leading up to phase two which could be the elevator. The members of the kitchen committee who were present were confident that we will be able to work this way and keep the cost at a minimum when we have the excavation and the concrete work in place. The church has the resources to get the project off the ground, and the momentum is important. It was decided to call a general meeting and the kitchen committee is ready to prepare the project for the meeting. The city permits need to be revised, and the project must be divided into phases; we need to get the financial options thoroughly described and once the general meeting has approved the start, we should be done with phase one before the fall rains and the bazaar.
Other building issues are the chairs in the hall and extensions for the hymn book shelves in the church pews. The extension of the memorial walk has already been decided and is just about to begin.
The outreach to 3rd and 4th generation was discussed already. The kitchen is of the essence for this, too, and it was mentioned that we need to work more on communication.
Outreach: There was a general consensus that we should go ahead and offer a Christmas service in Seattle, on a trial basis. If it is successful, we need to look into the formal aspects of the pastor working in the US. The DSUK is very pleased with this. We hope to hear from the Immigrant Committee of the DSUK about their view on our future. Everybody agreed that the Burnaby pastor should preferably do the services in both Victoria and Nanaimo, possibly on the same day, in order to keep the cost down. However, it was the general opinion that the services in Vancouver should have a high priority because we have a lot of members on the Island.
We have to realise that there are very few Danish or Norwegian residents at Dania Home and Normanna Home. Also, the services in Dania Manor which have now been done each month for a longer period of time, have good attendance, mainly by Danes. These two things in combination leads us to consider if we should cut the services in Normanna Home in order to upgrade the activities in Dania Manor. The fact that the church is located right next door makes the services in Dania Home very relevant regardless of the lack of Danes. It will also be relevant to ask the Granly pastor to take a few more services at Dania since the Burnaby pastor will be upgrading the services on the Island. We should consider this and ask the board to make some decisions regarding this issue.
We took a close look at the makeup of our church, how is it structured and how does it work, who are the churchgoers, and who are the others, who are the core and how can we identify the various group in and around our church.
Then we looked at our assets, buildings and financial resources, we looked at how we generate our income, took a look at new opportunities, we discussed membership and new groups we wanted to reach. We talked about how we wanted to develop our contacts with youth, immigrant generations and those who are here on a shorter term, we discussed how we spend our money, how we prioritise the newsletter and the services in regard to language and new inspiration from Denmark. We looked at our buildings and volunteer groups.
One of our goals was to extend our activities for youth, local youth and youth from Denmark.
Another goal was to build a new kitchen because we found there was a need to continue and expand our cultural outreach to the 3rd and 4th generation. A kitchen is instrumental in that.
We set up a goal to enhance our services with youth involvement and music.
Another goal was to continue our involvement in our surrounding community. Also to maintain our lifeline to Denmark and the Danish culture in order to bring it with us as future generations contribute to the multi-cultural Canada of today.