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Who works in the church
The pastor

The pastor

What does a pastor do?

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark has approximately 2,300 parish churches. Each of these churches has at least one pastor (in Danish: præst), and some city churches have three or more; in the countryside, village pastors often serve more than one congregation.

The main tasks of a pastor are to preach the Gospel and to perform Holy Communion and Baptism. In addition to preaching and administering the sacraments, the pastor has a broad range of tasks. These include counselling, conducting weddings and funerals, teaching, being part of the church council, visiting members of the congregation, e.g. when they are sick, cooperating with the local school on events around Christmas, working together with religious leaders of other faiths in the area to create mutual understanding, etc. Some pastors also have leadership responsibilities in regard to their colleagues in the church where they work. The job of a pastor varies according to the character of the congregation and the location of the church. The supervisor of a pastor is the bishop of the diocese where s/he serves.

What does it take to become a pastor?

To become a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, you need to study theology at university, i.e. in Copenhagen or in Aarhus. Having a Master’s degree in theology can lead to many different careers. If you want to be a pastor, in addition to your university studies, you will have to follow a number of courses in the Pastoral Seminar’s teaching programme during one semester. These courses are more practical in nature than the courses at university– i.e. they concentrate on the concrete tasks and challenges of a pastor.

Different kinds of pastors

Although the great majority of pastors (around 2,400) work in the approximately 2,300 parish churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, we also have other kinds of pastors who serve in or outside the country, e.g. night church pastors, youth pastors, street pastors, hospital chaplains, prison chaplains, army chaplains, navy chaplains, university chaplains and pastors with a specific responsibility for immigrants, the hearing-impaired or people with disabilities.