Church of Sweden

The Seamen’s Church in London is being closed down

Press Release   •   May 25, 2011 13:23 BST

The Swedish Seamen’s Church in the Docklands area of London will be closed down in December 2012. Photo: Magnus Aronson/IKON

The Seamen’s Church in London will be closed down at the turn of 2012/2013. The building will be sold and activities in London will be concentrated to Ulrika Eleonora Parish Church. The decision was made today by the Committee for the Church of Sweden Abroad.

The Church of Sweden will remain in London with extensive and active operations in Ulrika Eleonora Parish. The Committee for the Church of Sweden Abroad says that the ship visits will continue, but can be run from the parish church.

“London is also the only city abroad in which the Church of Sweden has two church buildings, which was one of the reasons for our review,” explains Anders Bergkvist, head of the Church of Sweden Abroad. “However, such changes are extremely difficult, and I fully understand that people will be disappointed; many people have a strong relationship with our activities abroad.”

This decision means that the General Synod’s requirements on cutting costs in the Church of Sweden Abroad will be fulfilled.

“It has been a bumpy ride that is finally coming to an end,” says Anders Bergkvist. “Those of us who live near the Church activities abroad are now keen to develop and strengthen them for the future.”

Background

The activities in the Seamen’s Church were analysed in two stages in 2010, partly by analyst Folke Malmström, and partly by a working group consisting of Hans Ulfvebrand and Birgitta Lindén, chairman and member, respectively, of the Committee for the Church of Sweden Abroad as well as Anders Bergkvist, head of the Church of Sweden Abroad, and regional head Stefan Bergmark.

The Seamen’s Church in London is an integrated part of Ulrika Eleonora Parish in London. When the parish was formed 300 years ago, many Swedes in London were seamen and were in great need of outreach and diaconia (pastoral welfare) work. The crews on Swedish ships have become increasingly international, with a small number of Swedes. Fewer lay days in ports and rigorous safety regulations mean that very few people now have time to go ashore. This is why the Church visits ships instead, but in five years the number of such visits has decreased from 431 to 103 per year.

Recently, there has been a focus on the hostel operation in the Seamen’s Church, which the analyst states is not a self-evident task for a parish. When the hostel was established in the 1960s there was a pastoral welfare objective of offering support to seamen and their families – which is no longer needed.

The decisions of the Committee about the activities in London:

- The activities in the Seamen’s Church will be concluded on 31 December 2012.

- The hostel operation in the Seamen’s Church will be concluded on 31 December 2012.

- The Seamen’s Church will be sold.

- The proceeds of the sale will remain in Ulrika Eleonora Parish in London and be managed by the parish/trustees.

- The jobs of two assistants who work in the Seamen’s Church will cease when the contract expires on 31 December 2012.

- The job of one assistant who works in Ulrika Eleonora Ulrika Eleonora will cease on 31 December 2012.

- The national level will finance three positions of employment as of 1 January 2013; these jobs will be the head priest of the parish, one assistant priest and one assistant.

- The central office and the parish will jointly decide on how the activities will be phased out.

- The funds gained by the parish will be used for long-term financing of the Swedish Church’s activities in London.

- A decision on seamen’s church activities in the UK will be made after an analysis of these activities in Europe. The committee will subsequently have the opportunity to raise the issue of the extent of such activities in the UK again at a later date.