Initially, the settlers' spiritual well-being was under the care of the Rev. Leopold A. Hoyt, the Anglican priest in nearby Andover. Yet many of the settlers identified themselves as Lutherans and wanted a Lutheran pastor. The Rev. Johan Vilhelm Beck, head of the Home Mission movement of the Danish Lutheran Church, sent Niels Mikkelsen Hansen (1829-1912), a native of South Jutland, Denmark, in answer to their request.
In 1875 Hansen, his wife, and eight children arrived in New Denmark. On Sunday, 26 September, he conducted his first worship service. At this time, services were held in private homes, as no churches had been built in the settlement. Although the settlers were satisfied with Hansen's work, they were struggling to make ends meet, and, consequently, were unable to support him financially.
The Rev. Leo Hoyt suggested that Neils Hansen prepare for Holy Orders in the Anglican Church, which would bring him into the fold of the Diocese of Fredericton. On 11 June 1876 Hansen was ordained deacon at Fredericton, and five days later, on 16 June, Bishop John Medley and his wife, Margaret Medley, visited the settlement. The Bishop administered the sacrament of confirmation to several Danish children. Two years later, he described the scene in a sermon preached at St. Peter's Cathedral, Exeter, England:
For when in that emigrant room in the wilderness, adorned with boughs, and fresh flowers gathered from the forest, I confirmed the children of the Danes, the first names announced to me were Canute, Eric, and Olaf. We sang the old Danish hymns; we offered our Litany in the Danish, and responded in the English tongue; and the little band, now members of our own Church of England, knelt around one Altar, over which the cross of the Danish flag formed its simple but appropriate ornament.*
The following spring, on 27 May 1877, Bishop Medley ordained Hansen priest in Christ Church Cathedral. He also gave the Rev. Hansen permission to use Danish language Bibles, prayer books, and hymn books during worship services.
* PANB would like to thank D. G. Bell, of the University of New Brunswick, Faculty of Law, for directing our attention to the Project Canterbury Website: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/pc/canada/medley/other.html, from which this quotation is taken.