Although small in size, the Kingdom of Denmark has had a major impact on Europe and the rest of the world during its long history. Known in the Middle Ages as home to Viking warriors who raided various parts of Europe, Denmark today uses its military for more peaceful endeavors. As a founding member of both the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Denmark claims to have sent more personnel on peacekeeping missions since 1948 than any other country in the world.
Denmark is the southernmost of the northern European Scandinavian countries. It consists of a main landmass, Jutland, which extends north from Germany into the North Sea, and a series of archipelagic islands to the east, which are in the Baltic Sea. Denmark also has two major colonies, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
Denmark’s civilization dates back to at least 1800 B.C. Although no written records exist from this period, crude rock carvings show that ancient Danes were agricultural settlers who worshipped the sun. During the twelfth century A.D., Christianity made its way to Denmark in part because of the influence of tribal kings who wanted to enter into trade agreements with the Holy Roman Empire.
The Lutheran-led Protestant Reformation had a major impact on Denmark. When the New Testament was first published in Danish in 1524, it quickly became a best seller. By this time Roman Catholicism had integrated itself into many aspects of daily Danish life and imposed various fees upon the general population.
Danes welcomed independence from Roman Catholic ideology. In 1536 Danish King Christian III founded the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark. Today nearly all Danes are members of this state-supported faith. The monarch, currently Queen Margrethe II, serves as head of the church, with a minister of ecclesiastical affairs serving as the church’s highest administrative authority.
Adventists in Denmark
Lutheran, 95%; other Christian, 3%; and Muslim, 2%
ADVENTIST TO POPULATION RATIO
* General Conference Office of Archives and Statistics, 145th Annual Statistical Report
Adventism reached Denmark in 1872 by means of a Danish monthly magazine,Advent Tidende, published by John Matteson, a Danish national, who started it to reach Scandinavian immigrants living in the United States. Matteson sent the magazine to Denmark in response to letters received from people interested in keeping the Sabbath. By 1874 some 1,000 copies of Advent Tidende had been sent out. In 1875 a Danish printer, M. A. Sommer, asked Matteson for permission to include articles from Advent Tidende in his monthly journal. Matteson readily agreed.
As a result, Matteson received even more letters from Denmark in response to the two journals. In 1877 he wrote to General Conference president James White asking to be sent as a missionary to Denmark. Thus, he became the first Adventist missionary to northern Europe, just three years after J. N. Andrews went to Switzerland. Within months after his arrival, Matteson baptized nine people. A year later he organized the Alstrup Adventist Church in Vendsyssel with 27 members. In 1880 Matteson helped organize the Denmark Conference with seven churches and 120 adherents—the first Adventist conference outside North America.
Though the majority of Danes are members of the Lutheran Church, they are not necessarily religious. Most are secular or postmodern and have little or no religious experience. By some accounts less than 4 percent of Danes attend church regularly. Young people are especially secular. As of 2007, Adventist Church membership in Denmark had dropped by 9 percent over the previous decade. Please pray for Denmark and for those looking for creative ways to tell others about Jesus Christ.