The Church of Norway has expressed its deep gratitude towards the international ecumenical fellowship for prayers and support after the terror attacks in Oslo and at Utoya on 22 July 2011.
The church said in a news release that from all over the world, condolences were sent to the churches and people of Norway as soon as the news broke. A bomb detonated in downtown Oslo killed eight people and a gunman murdered 69 people, mostly young men and women, at a retreat on the island of Utoya. Anders Breivik, a Norwegian, has been arrested in connection with the attacks.
"The strong support and consolation from Christians all over the world shows us what it means to be a part of the body of Christ," said the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Norway, Helga Haugland Byfuglien, in a statement. She added that St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians, "if one member suffers, all suffer together with it," became reality to the Christians in Norway in a very special way.
"The strong involvement from the global Christian fellowship not only moves us deeply, but also strengthens our faith and hope in Christ, knowing that His love and care is stronger than the worst evil. Being part of the global Christian family inspires us to give Christian witness, in words and deeds, to the Norwegian population in these difficult days," said Byfuglien.
Immediately after the terror attacks, the Lutheran Church of Norway, as well as other churches in Norway, offered their services to the population, said the Norwegian church. Congregations all over the country opened their churches, providing places to mourn and to cry, it said.
"Pastors, deacons and other church workers have listened to the mourners, comforting and supporting those who lost their dear ones, the wounded and survivors, their families and friends and many others who sought the churches during these sad days," said the news release. Many mourners found comfort in the sanctity of the church room and many experienced that the church's liturgy, texts and psalms, used for generations, could provide consolation and hope in this crisis, the church said.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]