Energy prices force church to close
Rjukan Church in Tinn first of many expected closures
Rjukan Church in Tinn in eastern Norway has closed its doors to worshippers until the spring because of high electricity prices, with more saying they may have to follow suit.
“We are doing it to save electricity. Rjukan Church is made of stone and concrete and is expensive to heat. Electricity has become far more expensive, and we have already used up the electricity budget for 2021,” Susann Myhra Stryvold, guardian for the church, told the newspaper.
High electricity prices pose a problem to congregations throughout eastern Norway, and several churches told broadcaster NRK they are struggling to keep the lights on.
“We have already spent NOK 200,000 – 300,000 more on electricity than last year,” Kjetil Gjerde, trustee of a church in Ringerike, told the public broadcaster.
“With today’s electricity prices, we will go NOK 120,000 over our budget this year,” Sigrid Kobro Strensrød, a church warden in Larvik, said to NRK.
It’s a similar story in the capital, Oslo.
“We do not have the budget to pay current electricity bills. This is a serious situation,” Finn Folke Thorp, communications manager for Oslo’s joint church council said.
Churches, particularly old stone ones, use massive amounts of electricity to heat.
“Large stone churches are expensive to heat, so we have moved some events to other churches and premises,” Gjerde, trustee for a church in Ringerike, explained.
Thorp says that the closure of some churches in Oslo is being considered, should the high prices endure.
“A radical move we can take is to close some of the churches, but the final decision lies with the churches themselves,” said Thorp, who manages communications for Oslo’s church council.
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 5, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.