By Mason Harris
About three weeks ago it was our pleasure to baptize Sverre Axelsen into Christ. Brother Axelsen first became known t us last spring when brother Salvoni was with us in a meeting. If I remember correctly, he and his wife missed only one night of the meeting. Then we saw no more of them all summer. This fall, Louise and I decided to take one night a week to visit some of the people with whom we have come in contact. The first night we went to visit this family they were not home. We left a card in the door and they came to our next meeting. They invited us to come again the following Friday night. It was a profitable visit, as he was baptized the next day.
Brother Axelsen started to one of our meetings before, but when he heard that we were “Kristi Kirke” he decided we were Mormons and turned away at the door. Now we are wondering how many in the past four years have done the same.
When brother Axelsen told us that he had turned away from one of our meetings over a year ago because he thought we were Mormons, we once again took up the question to see what we could do about this problem. Ever since we have been in Norway we have been regarded by many as Mormons. Two things may be the reason for this: We are Americans who have come to Norway to preach, and there is a likeness in the name we have been using. They (Mormons) are known as Jesu Kristi Kirke av Siste Dagers Hellige, but so often refer to themselves as Kristi Kirke. We have discussed this matter for about three years but could never come to any agreement on changing the name. But learning for sure that at least one person had turned away from our meetings because he feared we were Mormons, caused us to take up the matter again. This time, we agreed that the name should be changed.
The word “menighet” is the Norwegian word for church and refers especially to a local congregation, so it seemed perfectly in harmony with the Scriptures to be known as “Kristi Menighet”–Christ’s Church. The word “kirke” also is a Norwegian word for church, but it is used more in a universal sense. Actually, the term “menighet” is better for our use.
So far, the reaction of the people has been favorable. Most of them who understood our situation were in sympathy witht us. But we can’t change the fact that we are Americans, and in the eyes of many Norwegians, we are heretics trying to overthrow the religion of their fathers. However, we hope that our decision to be known as Kristi Menighet will make our work a little easier.
We understand that the brethren in Stavanger have decided to be known as Kristi Menighet from the beginning of the public meetings. We think it is a wise decision and regret that we waited so long to correct the situation here.
Truth Magazine, VI: 3, p. 19