The Danish Lutheran Church, which today is located on 10th Ave NE, is the result of an amalgamation of the two Danish churches in Calgary, which took place in September-October 2010.
For many years before that, each church had its own story.
The Danish church in Calgary goes back to 1913.
On New Year's Day in 1913, as a group of Danish immigrants celebrated their new year with a layman’s church service, they decided that while they enjoyed their weekly prayer meetings and Sunday layman’s services, they really needed a church and a pastor. They decided to form a congregation and then proceeded to elect a board from their group.
At their first congregational meeting, they named their church Sharon, Danish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation.
In need of a pastor, they were helped by the pastor from Dickson or Standard (it is uncertain which one).
Not until ten and a half years later did the hope and prayers for a pastor of their own finally materialize.
On June 20th, 1923, Pastor M. Christensen arrived.
He, too, had a good influence on the congregation and made it realize its obligation to the church, so slowly, a financial surplus started to accumulate when he resigned only 3 years later.
He also arranged it so that the congregation could hold its services and meetings at the Norwegian church.
Pastor Knudsen from Brooklyn, New York, became his successor, and while he was leading the congregation, the dreams of having their own church building gained speed.
In December 1928, the congregation had raised enough money to buy 4 lots on 10th Avenue.
A little less than 2 years later, on November 3rd, 1930, it was decided to build a church in the Danish style on two of the lots.
To keep the cost low, the congregation took it upon itself to help out as much as possible.
On February 7th, 1931, the church was externally completed, and many basics, such as the altar, pews, and pulpit, were ready to be installed.
As time passed and the war brought disruptions, the Danish language slowly disappeared from Sharon’s services and activities.
Therefore, when a new wave of Danish immigrants came to Calgary in the 50s, Sharon church tried to embrace them, but their wish for having their services in Danish was finally so strong, so they too wanted to form their own congregation with their own pastor and their own church!
A retired Danish pastor from Dalum helped the Danish-speaking congregation in its early beginning, where they had services in different private homes. With his help, the congregation asked DKU (Dansk Kirke i Udlandet – Danish Church Abroad) for help. The DKU is an organization in Denmark which through private funds, supports Danish congregations abroad and helps them to call a Danish pastor.
In 1964 pastor Charlo Staal Nielsen and his family arrived in Calgary. The Danish Lutheran Church, Calgary, began--first as a congregation renting space for worship but soon gained its own building at 130 32 Ave NW.
Both churches had prosperous years with several pastors, flourishing Sunday schools, and lived side by side for almost 45 years.
Both had Danish roots, but they were of two different generations.
Both churches have been involved in the Calgarian community by supporting the building of several new Lutheran churches in Calgary and by helping establish the retirement home Dana Village on Simcoe Blvd SW and the care center Bethany on 18A Str NW.
One morning in December 2009, the treasurer of The Danish Church on 32nd Ave. was contacted by the chairman of the board at Sharon Lutheran church asking if the church would consider buying Sharon Lutheran Church for one dollar and moving the congregation and the services to Sharon.
Sharon's congregation was aging and did not want the church to die.
At that time, the Danish Lutheran church was in the process of calling a new pastor from Denmark--me--and about to finish the new parsonage--suddenly, there was a lot on everyone's plate.
But after many meetings and some joint services, it finally was decided on August 3rd, 2010, to merge.
And on October 3rd, 2010, we celebrated the first Thanksgiving service as one congregation in Sharon.
It has been a few years now, and many things have happened since then. We have finished building a narthex to the church so a lift could be installed and have renovated the hall downstairs, and painted the inside of the church.
With the help of Fundraising dinners, we were able to have new cushions in the pews, and lately, thanks to a fantastic donation from Granly Church in Vancouver, we have installed a new carpet in the sanctuary.
Many things are still on our wish list.
One thing is certain: the congregation isn’t dying anymore. But I think the amalgamation has boosted both congregations, and now we are again trying to take up the tradition of looking outwards toward the community. We have summer camps for children, Danish classes, and events that are open to our neighbourhood, such as a Star of David service in December and dessert nights.