The Kingdom of Norway
World Convention is currently building a global reference for the countries and territories where we know there are Christian – Churches of Christ – Disciples of Christ Congregations. Of the 193 United Nations States, the Stone-Campbell Movement exists in 174. This listing includes other nations and territories, numbering 195 countries where there is at least one representation of our churches.
Rather than waiting for comprehensive, complete information we are putting up the details we have available. If you can correct or add to this information, please contact the World Convention Office with details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Kingdom of Norway comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, sharing a long eastern border with Sweden (1,619 km or 1,006 mi long), which is the longest uninterrupted border within Europe. Norway is bordered by Finland and Russia to the north-east, and the Skagerrak Strait to the south, with Denmark on the other side. Among the earliest inhabitants of Norway were the Vikings, Teutonic peoples who settled there between the ninth and eleventh centuries. By the fourteenth century Norway was under Danish rule and remained Danish subject until 1815 when control was transferred to Sweden. In 1905 Norway was declared an independent state and is today a constitutional monarchy under King Harald V.
The religious population of Norway is 94% Evangelical Lutheran with the remaining 6% being made up of Baptists, Catholics, Methodists and others.
The Stone-Campbell Movement once had a strong presence in Norway. The history of the British Churches of Christ records that the Scottish brethren began in about 1875 to support a small group of Norwegian churches that shared similar views. Speculation says the connection may have come through a fisherman in the Orkney or Shetland areas that had contact with fisherman in other areas. R.P. Anderson, a young man from Ayrshire, began studying and preparing in about 1889 to go to Norway and the Scottish conference voted to send him there to do evangelistic work, believing that the prospects were very promising. Anderson mastered the language and by 1892 was taking up the work in Norway. However, he found the conditions there much more disappointing than had been expected and soon returned home and the Scottish churches ceased support. Anderson is said to have spent some years in Copenhagen with Dr. A.O. Holck and several years in America on the staff of the Christian Standard. He was also supported by the American churches.
Another avenue into Norway was through the efforts of Dr. A.O. Holck, a Dane supported by the Foreign Christian Missionary Society of the American churches. Dr. Holck served in Denmark from 1876 until his death in 1907. One of his efforts in Denmark was a paper called “The Old Paths,” a copy of which was said to have fallen into the hands of a Norwegian sailor who carried it home. Impressed by what he read the sailor invited Dr. Holck to Norway to preach to the people regarding the things the paper advocated. His visit of a few weeks resulted in a church being established in Frederickshald. Dr. Holck petitioned the FCMS for a grant in order that some work might be established in Norway and the Society responded with an annual gift of $1,000 until 1910. (It appears the FCMS may have closed the Scandinavian mission at that time.) Soon the gospel was being preached in many places and converts were being made. Twenty congregations were established and in a few years ten of those congregations had their own buildings. Besides supporting Anderson, three other men were sent from America: Julius Cramer, a native of Schleswig; O.C. Mikkelson, a Dane; and E.W. Pease, who spent eight years in Norway. In addition to these four, several local men were associated with the work. For the most part the Norwegians were working men and had little training or education. Therefore it was often difficult for them to be truly effective leaders when difficulties and dissension cropped up. E.W. Pease spent much of his time as an evangelist visiting many far-flung points and he reported that though the work was hard, fruit was being born. Anders Iverson Myhr, a Norwegian by birth but who spent the bulk of his life in the United States, made at least one preaching trip to Norway with some limited success.
Perhaps because of the lack of strongly trained leaders or perhaps because the Scottish and American churches did not continue long-term financial support the churches appear not to have had strong growth into the twentieth century. But the 1930 and 1935 program books for the 1st and 2nd World Conventions, respectively, list Frederick Eriksen of Oslo and later Halden, Norway as a World Convention officer and a leader of the Churches of Christ in Norway.
In the early 1960s some American missionaries of the a cappella tradition began a congregation in Oslo. Later evangelist Einar Engoy, trained in America, began a work in Norway. Americans Richard Walker and John Dunahoe preached in Stavanger. In 1989 Tom Bunting worked with a congregation near Bergen and the following year Dan Tonning and his wife began a new church plant effort. Currently there are between 2 and 4 churches meeting with a total of approximately 40 in attendance.
The International Churches of Christ have congregations in Oslo and Bergen.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
Revised by Gary Holloway, December 13, 2013
For further historical reference:
The Foreign Christian Missionary Society, Archibald McLean, Fleming H. Revell Company, New York, 1919.
The Personal Papers of Anders Iverson Myhr are preserved at the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Nashville, Tennessee, including his Norwegian Bible.