Bishop of Greenland

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The Bishop of Greenland is a diocesan bishop of the Church of Denmark, and the leader of the Church of Greenland, which is an episcopal church in the Lutheran tradition.

Sofie Petersen, Incumbent Bishop of Greenland.


Historically (before the Reformation) the Bishop of Greenland was known as the Bishop of Garðar. This ancient diocese fell into disuse in the 15th century. When resurrected in the post-Reformation era, its name was changed to the Diocese of Greenland.

Independent status[edit]

The Church of Greenland, in common with other institutions within the territory, is governed from Denmark, but with a large measure of autonomy. The Church of Greenland consists of a single diocese, which is part of the Danish church, but is moving towards full independence.[1] In this respect it is following the example of the Church of the Faroe Islands, which is also a single diocese, and achieved full independence from the Church of Denmark in July 2007.

Current Bishop of Greenland[edit]

The current bishop is the Right Reverend Sofie Petersen.[2] She is an accomplished theologian, and during her episcopate she has personally overseen the introduction of a new translation of the Bible in Greenlandic, as well as a Greenlandic language hymnal, and a Greenlandic edition of the (originally Danish language) prayer book of the Church of Denmark.[3]

Church structure[edit]

In common with other evangelical episcopal Lutheran churches, the Church of Greenland recognises the historic three-fold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons; it acknowledges the two dominical sacraments of baptism and the eucharist; it provides liturgies for other rites including confirmation, marriage, ordination, confession, and burial; its faith is based on scripture, the ancient creeds of the Church, and the Augsburg Confession.[4]

It is in full communion with the other Lutheran churches of the Nordic and Baltic states, and with the Anglican churches of the British Isles.

The clergy, who work with local parish councils, but are ordained and supervised by the bishop, work in a network of seventeen parishes, with churches and chapels across Greenland. Four senior priests hold the title of 'Dean' - one as Dean of the cathedral church, and three as Area Deans for the three deaneries, an administrative structure between the level of the diocese and that of the local parishes.[5]


  1. ^ Movement to independence witnessed here though no timescale is suggested.
  2. ^ See biographical entry here Archived May 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine..
  3. ^ All these achievements are reported here (text in Danish).
  4. ^ Statement of faith and dogma from the parent Danish Church.
  5. ^ Statistics referenced here Archived February 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine..

External links[edit]