Popular pastor Per Arne Dahl was announced on Wednesday as the new bishop of the Tunsberg diocese. Dahl will become the region’s sixth bishop when he takes up the position in September.
“I think this could be very exciting and fun,” Dahl told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “There are very many good workers in this diocese in Vestfold and Buskerud. I look forward to working together, including cooperation a little beyond the church.” The 63-year-old said he spent a few days in discussion with his wife and children before deciding to accept the role.
Dahl is well known as an author, columnist with newspaper Aftenposten, broadcaster on NRK radio and television, and for his pastoral care and crisis work. The position opened after the current bishop Laila Riksaasen Dahl announced she would retire this year after 12 years of service.
Other candidates for the role included Jan Otto Myrseth, Torstein Lalim, Paul Erik Wirgenes, Margun Sandal and Sølvi Lewin. Speculation surrounded the appointment, and NRK reported last month that the parish council wanted Dahl while the college of bishops wanted Myrseth. The Church Council made the final choice.
“I don’t interpret it such as one wanted Myrseth and the other wanted me,” said Dahl. “The bishops had me at either first, second or third place. It’s totally natural that different people vote a little differently. Now I’m looking forward, not backward, and I hope I can keep my health and wits for six years and do good.”
The diocese was created in 1948 and incorporates the Buskerud and Vestfold regions, with the bishop based in Tønsberg. “I dare say that I know the Tunsberg diocese very well,” said Dahl. “I have spoken at frightfully many churches and chapels, I have been to cultural events, in businesses, and I like this area.”