New Bishop of Iceland Says Church Failed LGBTQ+ People Skip to content

New Bishop of Iceland Says Church Failed LGBTQ+ People

By Steindor Gretar Jonsson

Guðrún Karls Helgudóttir bishop of iceland
Photo: provided by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland. Guðrún Karls Helgudóttir.

Guðrún Karls Helgudóttir, who was recently elected the new bishop of Iceland, said that the Church of Iceland’s attitude towards homosexuality was at a time based on denial.

“The church failed”, she told Morgunblaðið in an interview this weekend. “Therefore it owes a debt to the LGBTQ+ community. The church should have opened its arms to diversity. A majority of priests were on the community’s side, for the record, even if the church itself didn’t come around formally until it was too late.”

Family experience

One of Guðrún’s two daughters is trans. “It was very surprising to us when she told us, the autumn after her confirmation. We don’t choose what we face as parents and our job is first and foremost to love, help, and support our children,” Guðrún said.

“I’ve always had an open mind for how human beings can be of all stripes, but this caused me to feel even more strongly about how important it is that we accept all people the way they are and respect diversity,” she added. “I think the new generation is teaching us a lot when it comes to this.”

Membership decline

Guðrún was elected as bishop on 7 May in an election among 2286 registered voters of the church electorate, which includes priests, deacons, and lay members. She was ordained in 2011 and has served a number of parishes, most recently the Grafarvogur neighbourhood of Reykjavík.

She takes over from current bishop Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir on 1 September. The church, known officially as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland, has around 220,000 members, just over 60% of the population. Membership is down from since the turn of the century, when the church’s membership was 90% of the population.

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