Viola Hughes/ANN Staff
The Seventh-day Adventist Church plays an important role in promoting principles of tolerance and religious freedom, said Norwegian Ambassador to the United States Knut Vollebaek, during a visit April 23 to the Adventist Church world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.
“If religions are blamed for conflicts, then religions can come together and find a solution,” he said. “From this aspect, governments and churches should definitely work together.”
Visiting at the invitation of Adventist Church president Pastor Jan Paulsen, also a Norwegian native, Vollebaek said the work of the Adventist Church “is very important in that it provides people with a future.”
Responding to an inquiry from the ambassador, Paulsen described the services the Adventist Church offers, such as its worldwide education, medical, humanitarian, and community work. “The values of the church are communicated through these programs,” he said.
Tor Tjeransen, president of the Adventist Church in Norway, also attended the meeting. He said the greatest challenge for the church in Norway is “reaching the postmodern mind.”
“People are indifferent to religion because they do not see religion as being practical to their daily living,” he explained. Tjeransen said the church in Norway is currently searching for new entry points to reach the public. “Adventists have been too secluded in the past,” he said, “but we have now identified the importance of building friendships and networking on a one-to-one basis, which gives us opportunities to share our values and services.”
Although more than 85 percent of Norwegians identify themselves as “Lutheran,” Norway has long been considered a predominantly secular nation. The Adventist Church officially organized in Norway in the late 1800s, and currently has some 5,000 church members.