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|1791: The Vineyard,
a member of Vineyard
The Copenhagen Vineyard meets in a modern building that was
already used as a church before they acquired it, and thus needed
relatively little alteration to suit the Vineyard's requirements.
The new community replaced the old fixed seating with stackable
chairs and created a café area in the spacious lobby. The area
used for worship has a low stage, soundproof cabin for the drum
kit, and a glassed-in area for children's activities during
the service. As with many Scandinavian buildings, there is a
basement area equal to that of the ground floor above. This
is bright and clean, with offices, a restaurant area, kitchen,
toilet facilities and meeting rooms.
The Vineyard has no official membership list as such; members
are defined purely by coming to the services and taking part
in the activities of the church, and it has only recently put
in place a defined set of tenets. The information on its external
notice board says that the Vineyard aims to be a church for
non-churchgoers and the doubtful, and one where all are included,
inspired and involved. The church community has many subsidiary
groups for Bible study, prayer and children's activities, and
is active in social care, e.g. helping the poor, befriending
victims of sex trafficking, etc.
Situated in Nyvej, the Vineyard is off one of the main Copenhagen
thoroughfares and close to the Frederiksberg shopping complex
and metro. No section of Copenhagen is completely devoid of
residents, and this area is no exception. The church is on a
quiet residential street consisting of apartment blocks and
some old-fashioned mansion-style houses. The main street, Gamlekongevej,
was pretty peaceful, it being Sunday. The only places open were
the flower shops and cafes. Most of the pedestrians were youngsters
hanging out together, plus a few people going visiting and carrying
the obligatory flowers.
The Revd Flemming Mølhede, head pastor; the Revd Helle
Rønne Samuelsen, assistant head pastor; and a third person
whose given name was Řle, no surname provided. In fact, none
of the cast mentioned their surnames in their introductions.
The date & time:
Sunday, 16 August 2009, 3.00pm.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
I estimate about 100, mostly aged 30-ish, with lots of children,
and a few older types like me.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I arrived a good half hour early. There were a couple of young
people sitting on the steps chatting, but the door was open
so I went in. The café is the first thing a visitor sees, and
there were several people there already. One young man shook
my hand and introduced himself, and told me about the church.
He gave me a fair slice of the Vineyard's history, and a description
of the service.
Was your pew comfortable?
There were stackable plastic chairs. They were not uncomfortable
at first, but induced a slumped posture which in time became
How would you describe the pre-service
Chatty and friendly, but reasonably quiet.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Well, now, we're going to begin, so if you would all take
your seats…" (This in Danish.)
What books did the congregation use during the
None. Prayer was ex tempore, and the words to the worship songs
were projected onto the wall on either side of the stage area.
What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard, two electric guitars, electrified acoustic guitar,
and drums. One of band members, the only woman, did not play
an instrument but provided vocals (as did all the members, so
far as I could tell).
Did anything distract you?
The semi-circular layout of the chairs meant that I had to turn
slightly away from the band in order to see the projected text.
I found this divided attention distracting.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Charismatic, with some raised arms but very little clapping.
Worship songs rather than traditional hymns. The order of service
was half an hour or so of worship songs, many of which were
in English. This was followed by announcements and a five minute
sermonette. There was then a 15 minute break for refreshments,
which were served in the worship area. After that, there was
a long sermon, followed by joint or private prayer. The service
closed with more worship songs.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 I thought the sermon overlong, but that could just
be the style of the church. The translator was obviously not
a professional, so I was given the gist of what was being said,
which, together with what I could understand of the original,
amounted to a précis with additional detail. On the plus side,
the preacher was lively and engaged and the congregation stayed
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The theme was inclusiveness, and that the Vineyard didn’t exclude
anyone. The preacher cited an occasion where he was giving witness
in the street and had come upon a lady who was wearing a skirt
but no knickers (a fact that the wind, always blowing in windy
Copenhagen, made obvious). He was faced with the dilemma of
whether to include her in his witness! He then went on to give
a dramatic account of how Mary Magdalene, a public sinner, had
bathed Jesus feet with her tears and had poured precious oil
over them – a duty which his host, Simon, had ignored!
He said that the excluded can have better instincts than the
socially acceptable. Finally, he spoke about the church’s work
in rehabilitating victims of sex trafficking and made a call
for more volunteers and support.
Which part of the service was like being in
This really was a welcoming church, and people went to great lengths to make me comfortable. I also, and somewhat to my surprise, enjoyed the singing. It had the visceral appeal of good pop. Brit pop influenced, as I was told.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The chairs. If the sermon is going to last for 35 minutes, we
need chairs which will support us. These didn't. I also found
the whole service too long (two hours, to be precise). There
are good reasons for having a coffee break in the middle of
it, such as it coinciding with the usual coffee hour in Denmark,
but I found my concentration flagging after an hour and a half.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We drifted off. I said hello to two of the leaders (the third
was praying with one of the congregation) and goodbye to my
How would you describe the after-service
Coffee was available both before and during the service. Who
needed after-service coffee?
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
1 I prefer the structure of the mass, and doubt if my
stamina would carry me through a two hour service on a regular
basis. But as an occasional visitor, I could enjoy it.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes. This was a fine example of unity in diversity. It's great
that such a variety of worship exists. While it's not my style,
it does have an appeal, and offers an alternative to the more
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The lady with no knickers!
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