Only the devastation of World War II is comparable to the national grief suffered at the hands of Anders Behring Breivik, according to the general secretary of the Baptist Union of Norway.
This Sunday is the first anniversary of the attacks, which saw 77 people lose their lives.
“It has become a day that has been defined as second only to World War II in terms of national impact,” Rev. Terje Aadne said. ¨”It was experienced as an attack on our whole nation, our youth, our political system and the first reactions were both the sympathy with the families of the deceased, the injured and those caught in the terrible event.”
Aadne said the attack has re-emphasized the importance of the church, even if people haven’t necessarily turned to Christ.
In the aftermath of the killings, more than one million people came into the cathedral in Oslo. Norway is a country where only an estimated 10 percent of baptized Lutherans attend church on a regular basis.
“It is unsure what lasting effect this crisis has had on people’s relationship to God and faith, but I am convinced that it has shown us that in times of crisis we as the body of Christ are relevant and needed,” said Aadne.
“It can also give us a signal of the importance of making our presence known, both individually and as churches for people to know who to turn to in special times of need.”
And Aadne believes that the Baptist Union of Norway’s goal to be “aggressively multicultural” is more important than ever in response to Breivik’s violent opposition to multiculturalism.
“In light of the nationwide discourse following 22 July, I think it is extra important to value the diversity that our multicultural and migrant churches bring to our local churches and national fellowship; to indeed see the positive force of God at work through migrants blessing our nation spiritually with their presence.”
Ian Bunce, head of the Baptist Union of Great Britain’s mission department, saw this commitment to diversity when he spoke at the Baptist Union of Norway’s annual conference called “Blink” earlier this month.
“The Union went to great lengths to be inclusive of all including a range of accommodation that made the event totally accessible. It was great on the evening I was preaching, that among the seven pastors they were recognizing, three were Burmese nationals.
“God did great things at the event. I believe that this is a Union that is seeing growth and God’s favor.”