The Church

By Hanne Tuborg Sandell and Birger Sandell , eskimologists

The population of Ittoqqortoormiit / Scoresbysund is Christian (Lutheran). Although the first settlers in 1925 had been baptized in Ammassalik during the years 1900-1921, very few of them had kept in touch with the mission in Ammassalik, and many therefore still practised their old religion.

The colonists had wanted to bring a priest to the new town of Ittoqqortoormiit because of the insecurity felt in the new surroundings, the unknown hunting potential of the area, and the supernatural forces seen in the local nature. The West Greenlandic Catechist, Sejer Abelsen, a native person who worked as a teacher and an assistant priest at the missionary station in Kulusuk, was chosen to be the priest of the new colony.  In order for Sejer to maintain his church role in the new settlement, it was necessary for him to travel to Iceland (while en route from Ammassalik to Ittoqqortoormiit) to receive his holy orders.

Initially, there was only one big administration building in the town, with living space for the colony controller and for the priest, and with a small store acting as a partition between the two areas. The church affairs were therefore conducted in the priest’s living room, a space originally designed to be a supply store. Encouraged by the town’s inhabitants, Ejnar Mikkelsen started a collection to build the church in Ittoqqortoormiit.  Following an announcement in the Danish press, the Court Official Valdemar Uttendal offered to finance the church. The new church was finished in the summer of 1928, with accommodation for the priest in one wing and a school room in the other.

The church can be opened after appointment with the priest .



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