Kirkernes Integrations Tjeneste (KIT) - Denmark
Kirkernes Integrations Tjeneste (KIT) is a nationwide organization that works to integrate new Danes into Danish society. They are operating 5 Ukrainian meeting points in Denmark, together with Samaritan Purse. Read the article highlights and their activities which were set up following the first round of funding, the second round of funding continued to support these activities.
Ukrainians find community and receive spiritual help at new meeting places.
In five places around Danish free churches, the Ukrainian refugee families have been given a focal point in a life characterized by insecurity in a foreign country. This is the result of new funding from Samaritan's Purse and already the project is bearing fruit.
By Steffen Faerch (KIT)
On 1 September, five new meeting places saw the light of day. The five meeting places were created with Ukrainian refugees in mind as part of a project funded by Samaritan's Purse Canada.
The funding was given to the Churches Integration Services (KIT), the Danish partner on the project, which will run for six months. But the meeting places have already got off to a good start. The help has meant that we can now do some of the things that we can see are needed in relation to the Ukrainians," says Peter Mikkelsen, head of Friends and Family.
Friends and Family are located in the Church at the Cultural Center, a large free church in Copenhagen, where they today have contact with approximately 80 Ukrainians, both children and adults. The Church's efforts among Ukrainians started back in the spring of 2022, when the Ukraine crisis began. Today, Ukrainians attend church services and often eat together afterwards. Friends and Family have also previously arranged trips for families and summer camps for teenagers, with support from KIT. But as part of the new project, the work among Ukrainians has received a noticeable boost.
The most significant thing is that we have been able to employ a Russian-speaking woman in the church to interpret, coordinate the work, and be in personal contact with the families. We have started pastoral care sessions and offer personal conversations and counselling.”
The newly hired coordinator and her husband have also started an Alpha course for Ukrainians. It's been important to get started with Alpha. We experience that the Ukrainians, we are in contact with through the church, have a very varied understanding of the Christian message,” says Peter Mikkelsen.
Although the church is already multicultural, the Ukraine effort and the reception of the Ukrainian refugees have made an impact on the church. It has done something for the church's understanding of mission, he believes, just as it has also helped to give the congregation a heart for supporting the families.
Caring for the bruised
Likewise, on Langeland, a large island in southern Denmark, the funding has given the Ukrainian refugee families something to gather around. As in Copenhagen, the project has already made a difference, and in the Pentecostal Church in Rudkøbing, the main town of the island, the congregation is excited to be part of it. Here there is no Alpha course, not yet at least. The group of Ukrainians is simply too bruised. Instead, the church is considering offering to counsel in groups, explains the church's pastor, Susanne Krog:
"Right now, they don't have the energy to do anything but immerse themselves in their pain. Right now, it's just about care and love. Like the Good Samaritan, we focus on helping them heal their wounds.”
In Rudkøbing, the grant has also made it possible for the church to hire a Ukrainian woman part-time to lead the work among Ukrainians. And it has been a great success and gift to the Ukrainians on Langeland as Susanne Krog puts it. With the appointment, the church has made contact with 90 of the 109 Ukrainians that live on the island. Every Saturday, around 50 Ukrainians gather (as some cannot participate because of work) for dining, talking and various activities on the church premises. Among other things, the group has used the gatherings to prepare events in support of their families and compatriots still living in Ukraine.
Like coming home to family
In this way, the church has become a gathering point for the group of Ukrainians, also during the week, when children and adults often drop into the church. Several of the children also attend the children's church. But for most of the Ukrainians, the biggest event is the gathering on Saturdays.
"One of the Ukrainian women said, 'I just want you to know that we are always 'counting down' for Saturday.' When we meet, it's the same feeling as coming home to Dad and Mom. This has become our family,” shares Susanne Krog.
The project and the meeting place have thus created lots of activity in the small church, which counts about 30 members. It indeed requires more in terms of tidying up, the kitchen needs to work, and the church has begun refurbishing rooms for the new activities. There is also simultaneous interpretation at the services now, which is not entirely without challenges in a church room of such a small size.
Nevertheless, the project and everything it has brought with it has benefited the church, and the church members have embraced the changes with a positive attitude, says Susanne Krog.
In addition to the church in Rudkøbing and Friends and Family in Copenhagen, new meeting places for Ukrainians have also been established in the towns of Aalborg, Herning and Kolding with the support of Samaritan's Purse Canada through KIT.