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Drop-in baptisms are a success

Today, baptism is an individual project

The drop-in baptism has struck a nerve in the zeitgeist. Photo: Folkekirken.dk

Drop in and become baptized! The Kristkirken Church in the centre of Copenhagen sent out invitations via Facebook to everyone interested in being baptised.

It became a huge success with 34 people being baptized in one evening. The pastor in Kristkirken, Mette Gramstrup Hansen, is enthusiastic.

“Some people said beforehand that it would be to belittle something that is very precious for the Church. But the event proved the exact opposite because it was an experience so emotional and powerful that many full-grown men were brought to tears. It was as if the whole day became a continuous worship with the door open to everyone,” says Gramstrup Hansen to Christian Daily. 

The drop-in baptism began at 3 pm and ended 5 hours later. When people entered the church, they were met by four pastors with whom they could have a conversation. Gramstrup said this was meant as an opportunity to receive pastoral care as the attendees could to talk about themselves and their lives. Afterwards, formalities such as registration were taken care of, and then, finally, the baptism ritual was carried out accompanied by organ music.

Anita Hansen Engdahl, assisting professor at the Theological Seminary in Copenhagen, says that the drop-in baptism has struck a nerve in the zeitgeist.

“Many want to try out different things with no strings attached. That is why we now have a pop-up culture where we see everything from bars, restaurants to theatres popping up briefly in different places. The pop-up baptism is a continuation of this tendency,” says Hansen Engdahl who thinks the drop-in baptism reveals something about the way many people conceive baptism in contemporary society, especially in cities.

“This event is connected to a large circulation in the city parishes. We are miles away from the traditional understanding of baptism as an entering into the community of the parish. Baptism is an individual project,” says Hansen Engdahl.

One of the attendees was Ib. Ib has been wanting to be baptised since 1984, but he never got around to it. “The thought of being baptised on a Sunday in a crowded church was just too much for me,” he explains to folkekirken.dk. 

When his wife saw the advertisement of the drop-in baptism, Ib decided to join right away.

According to pastor Birgitte Kvist Poulsen, who was also present at the drop-in baptism, people do not show up spontaneously to get baptised just for the fun of it. “The conversations we had with people wanting to get baptised have revealed that there have been many emotions and deliberations prior to their decision. They are persons who have been moved by Christian faith and the Gospel” says Kvist Poulsen to folkekirken.dk, the website of the ELCD.

The parish of Vesterbro will perform drop-in baptisms again in December 2017.