With one exception – Bønnelista’s eighth candidate in Bjørgvin – the three church political lists running for this year’s church elections have not nominated any candidates with an immigrant background from countries outside Europe.

The reason must be that non-European immigrants are not active enough in the church, writes Vårt Land.

The lists reflect who is engaged in the church, and it is a fact that few with an immigrant background are active in The Norwegian Church, says Jo Hedberg, who heads the Prayer List.

Gard Sandaker-Nielsen is the leader of the Open Folk Church and Oslo Diocesan Council, and wants more diverse representation. But he also realises the realities.

I also know that the nomination committees in Åpen folkekirke have been concerned with this, but that it has not been easy to get people with a different ethnic background to stand for election. It is also not a new challenge for the Church of Norway, it is something that has been on the agenda in the church for a long time, he says.

Sandaker-Nielsen confirms that the lists have a responsibility to recruit candidates with a different national background than Norway, but says that the composition largely reflects the membership of the Church of Norway.

Fundamental and long-term work must be done here on many fronts for the church to become a more diverse community, he believes.

In the Oslo diocese, work has been done to raise awareness of so-called microaggression, a term that refers to actions and statements that are indirectly or unintentionally perceived as derogatory towards a group.

It’s just an example of how we can work to ensure that the church is a safe space for people with a different background or skin colour, concludes Sandaker-Nielsen.

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