We visited one of the Norwegian seamen’s church in Singapore, a religious organisation serving Norwegians and other Scandinavians travelling abroad. Founded in 1864, The Norwegian Seamen’s Mission – Sjømannsmisjonen – was established to secure the moral and religious education of Scandinavian seafarers, but also to give them a “breathing room” where a fellow countryman was available to lend an ear and give some attention. Today, the churches and their staff together with travelling pastors around the globe represent a “resource center” for all Norwegians travelling internationally.
Sjømannskirken annually serves around 700 thousand Norwegians through over 30 churches and 16 mobile services in 30 countries around the world. For most Norwegians travelling abroad, Sjømannskirken is a nice place to rest: one can read newspapers from home, buy Norwegian food and speak to other Norwegians. Many Norwegians living permanently abroad use the seamen’s churches instead of the local ones.
During the visit, we learned about Lutheranism and went through a short history of Norway and Sweden. I wonder how many of us knew the existence of Lutherans before we came for the BSM class. Norwegian Seamen Mission Church is unlike any other churches I’ve ever seen – And the pastors were like none other that I have ever met before too! Besides the trip being a historical lesson on the origins of the religion and church, it was also an insight on how the Swedish and Norwegians are. As much as the Swedes, Danes and Norwegians wants to distinguish themselves from one another, but I think that it will be hard as their roots will always be entwined. Nothing can change the centuries of history they have together. After having met so many Swedes, Danes and Norwegians, I can’t wait for the 16th May to come.
– Yvonne Lim