Gjerpen Church (Norwegian: Gjerpen Kirke) is located at Skien in Vestfold og Telemark, Norway. The church is the main church of Gjerpen prestegjeld.
It is one of the oldest churches in Norway; it is believed the church was consecrated 28 May 1153 and dedicated to the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul . The 850th anniversary was celebrated in 2003.
The church has a long history and is considered a national treasure. The church and its inventory is officially preserved by law as are all buildings built before the Protestant Reformation of 1537. The extended parts built after this time is also preserved. The church is a Romanesque style with a cruciform plan (Norwegian: krossplan) church after the later additions, meaning it main top section is shaped like a Latin or Greek cross. It is built with a tower over the western entrance of the church. The church was extended in 1781 and 1871.The church was rebuilt in 1781 and 1871. Architects have included Christian Christie and Harald Bødtker.
During 1919-20, the church underwent extensive restoration and the interior was renewed. The new interior was designed by Emanuel Vigeland (1875-1948) including the mosaic Den bortkomne sønns hjemkomst. Additional features included glasspaintings, pulpit, baptismal font, benches, lamps and a bronze relief that was drawn in the 1920s.
In 2002 The Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage Management (Riksantikvaren) reported that the church needs restoration because of moisture and mold damage to the structure, funding from the municipality was expected to fund this.
In 2003 the church was damaged by arson that destroyed parts of the interior. The organ made in 1962 was listed for preservation, and was destroyed in the fire. The church was restored and reopened in 2004.
The church is now used for weddings, baptism and religious events and offers seating for 450 and room for 600 people. It is one of the few remaining building in Norway dating from the middle ages that are still in use. The church has a more modern chapel that is used in combination for ceremonies. The graveyard is still in use and maintained to this day.
Gjerpen church is located north-east outside of the city of Skien, Skien municipality in Telemark county. This area is called historically called Gjerpen. National Road 32 towards Siljan passes the church, the area is moderately populated. Gjerpen has a 1000-year tradition as a church location. The church is believed to have replaced an older wooden church in the same location built in the 11th century.