The Danish Seamen’s Church in Singapore installed its first female priest at a service on Febuary 15.
The service was attended by more than 100 members of the Danish community here as well as the Danish Ambassador to Singapore, Mr Ole Lisborg, and the Secretary General of the Danish Church Abroad, Ms Margith Pedersen.
Ms Pedersen, 59, specially flew in from Denmark to conduct the installation.
Vicar Kirsten Eistrup, 55, is also the Lutheran Protestant Church’s first female pastor in Asia. The Danish Seamen’s Church is also represented in countries such as Hong Kong, Australia and the United Kingdom.
In Denmark, women have been allowed to be ordained as priests since 1947. Currently, about half of its priests are female.
‘Personally, I don’t consider myself a female priest specifically. I come as a priest,’ said Vicar Eistrup, who was ordained as a priest about 25 years ago. Before this posting, Vicar Eistrup served her community at the church in Hørsholm, north of Copenhagen, for more than 20 years.
She is married with two adult children, both of whom are studying in Denmark. Her husband, a 61-year-old researcher, will join her in Singapore soon.
Singapore, which has a 1,500-strong Danish community, is not a foreign place to Vicar Eistrup and her husband, who used to travel to the country regularly for work.
“The country has been a part of my life and it is a fantastic opportunity for me to be able to come here,” she said.
She replaces former Vicar Ronald Petersen.
On Febuary 20, the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in Singapore will also welcome its first female priest.
Vicar Eistrup will be based here for at least the next four years, serving as priest of the church as well as port chaplain, visiting Danish seafarers on vessels which call at local ports. She will stay on the Danish Seamen’s Church’s premises, located on Mount Faber, a scenic point in the south of Singapore. Assisting her there are six other staff members.
Ambassador Lisborg called her presence in Singapore “important”, as she serves as a central figure for all Danes here.
“This place is not just a church. It serves as a cultural centre taking care of activities uniting the community,” he said.