OSLO May 22 The Church of Norway will start
collecting donations through text messages, hoping to prop up
its finances as gifts and state support dwindle.
"Fewer and fewer people are walking around with cash these
days, and this is very noticeable when the collection basket is
passed around in church," said Robert Wright, the head of
administration for 45 Oslo churches.
Surveys show that more than half of Norwegians carry no or
little cash and most Norwegian prefer to pay by card, a problem
for the church, which has collected cash for centuries.
Norway's government cut its formal ties with the Church of
Norway in 2012, abolishing Evangelical-Lutheranism as the state
religion. With state help expected to decline, church officials
are rethinking their finances.
"We know that we are moving quickly towards a time when we
won't get the money we need from the government and there's no
doubt that offerings from church members are becoming much more
important," Wright said.
The church commissioned Oslo-listed Link Mobility
to set up a payment system by this summer and plans to offer
churchgoers in Oslo the chance to donate via text message.
"This is a system that people recognise from TV-shows like
Norwegian Idol, and now they can also use it for giving
offerings," Wright said.
The system, which will be rolled out around Norway's 1,300
churches later, will also provide receipts, making donors
eligible for tax deductions.
(Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg; Editing by Larry King)