The Norwegian Church, St. Olav’s in Rotherhithe, London, is a popular hub for the Norwegian expat society in London. Every week, around 100 Norwegians turn up for the Sunday ceremony and the following traditional waffles, home-made cakes and coffee. But the rest of the week is also full of activities like mother and toddlers groups, a ladies’ club and a Saturday school. As we close in on Christmas, still more comes along including the popular Christmas Fair.

Christmas is eagerly anticipated at the Norwegian church and preparations have already begun. “Christmas is a strong tradition for the Norwegians and has a big impact on our lives,” says Rector and Senior Chaplain, Torbjørn Holt. The Christmas services therefore have a very high attendance and on Christmas Eve there are two services: one at 11 am in Esher and on at 3 pm in the church followed by a traditional Christmas dinner.  Other events gearing up for Christmas includes Remembrance Day on November 8 and a Christmas concert on December 5.

History and mission

There has been a Norwegian church in London since the late 17th century; the current church building, St. Olav’s, however, was consecrated in 1927, it’s foundation stone being laid by Crown Prince Olav (later King Olav V of Norway). Today, Torbjørn Holt spends most of his time on the move both in London and around the rest of the UK visiting offices, homes, Norwegians networking events and students. “My mission is for the church to be seen as a home where the community meets,” he stresses and adds. “We have an open house six days a week.”

By Emily Krugly, published in SCAN Magazine issue 13 – November 2009 | Photos: Marianne Wie

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