GUSTAF ADOLF NORDIC CONGREGATIOIN
CHAIRMAN’S REPORT APRIL 2018
Since last year’s AGM we have had 29 Sunday services, 15 of which were services of holy communion. Due to ill health, Lars Ruden has been unable to take any midweek services; this is a pity, but we are grateful to him for his contribution to our spiritual life and hope he and Liv will continue to join us occasionally.
Our pastor-in-charge, Jo Jan Vandenheede, returned to his native Belgium in August, to take up a full-time post in Brussels. We hope he found his time with us interesting, and wish him every success. Following this development, the church council decided that it would be advisable to reduce the number of monthly services from three to two: a communion service (if possible) on the first Sunday and morning prayer on the third. However, whenever we are fortunate enough to have an ordained minister visiting, we should make it a communion service. There have not been many such visits during the last year: Lasse Eriksson came twice, including Christmas Eve, Kristina Andreasson came once again for “julgransplundring” and Thomas Grunnesjö came once. Canon Neville Black has yet again been our saviour on more than one occasion. We have had offers of assistance from Scandinavia and look forward to meeting a retired Swedish priest on 3rd June, when we will also have a Swedish choir. The Danish church has also been in contact and this may yet lead to a positive outcome.
We have had no baptisms, confirmations or weddings lately, but several couples have been in touch to express a wish to be married in our beautiful church.
All the traditional events were commemorated, including Valborg, midsommar, the Nordic national days – and Lucia, which went well both at the Anglican cathedral and at “GA” (thanks in no small measure to the usual stalwarts). We hosted Reformation Day and were impressed by the number who came from the German church to join us.
Last year was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s “event” at Wittenberg and there were many events to mark it, including a service at the Anglican cathedral and, finally, at Westminster Abbey, where our bishop Martin read one of the lessons.
On 25th February we welcomed Bishop Martin, who led the service together with Reverend James (“Jim”) Matarazzo, a recently-ordained Lutheran minister, originally from Boston Massachusetts but now based in Oxford. At a meeting with the church council after the service, it was decided that James would come and take a service of holy communion once a month, the first Sunday in the month if possible. James is very positive and has shown great willingness to be flexible (already!) Bishop Martin is due to retire shortly, so we may not see him in Liverpool again.
Ours is an ageing congregation and in the last twelve months we have lost Peter and Ingalill Owens from the Swedish community; in October 2017 we lost our last Norwegian war veteran, Otto Strønstad and in February of this year Dagfinn Kvamme passed away. He loved this church and it was fitting that his memorial service should take place here. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are mourning the loss of loved ones.
We may be few in number, but we are fortunate to have reliable and dedicated people where they are needed most:
Organist Phil Benzie, who hasn’t missed a service yet; Ole and Vernissa who keep the church neat and tidy; Mette who does a great job with the altar flowers; Harriet, who looks after our (modest) finances; Helen, who does the secretarial work; and the other members of the church council: Joan, Katrine and Ulfar. The post-service lunch is always appreciated, so thanks to those who “get on with the job” without any fuss.
Michael Phoenix, who puts on several concerts in the church every year, asked if the piano could be moved from the coffee-lounge and placed in the church – at his expense. After some discussion, we decided to give it a try and we think it has worked well. We hope you agree. It has created some much-needed space by the entrance to the lounge as well.
It is worth noting that our congregation has collectively joined the Anglican-Lutheran society. We are somewhat passive in our membership, but we receive copies of their magazine, “The Window”; if anyone would like to read it (it contains some interesting articles), please ask me or Harriet .
On 5th February this year, the Norwegian Consulate was closed down; Peter Copland had retired after more than thirty years and it was decided not to replace him. He has always supported our church, aided by his assistant Liz Murphy, and it was sad news. Peter very generously offered to buy the church something concrete as a parting gift from the consulate and it just so happened that we needed a new storage cupboard in the coffee-lounge. It’s already in place! Thanks, Peter.
Thanks also to LiNC, for their generous financial – and indeed moral – support.
It’s been a busy, sometimes hectic year- but never dull!