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24 September 2014
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Scandinavian seamen's church
Scandinavian seamen's church

Scandinavian Seamen's Church

By Ann Young
Not many people know about Liverpool's Scandinavian church. But its simple exterior hides a wealth of culture and seafaring history.


It's easy to miss the Seamen’s Scandinavian Church. Stuck out on its own near some major construction work on Liverpool’s Park Lane, it isn’t surprising few people have given the red brick building a second glance. But take a look behind its heavy wooden doors, and you’ll find a thriving Scandinavian community and an important piece of seafaring history.

The front entrance of the seamen's church
Flags at the Scandinavian church

Before Gustaf Adolf´s Church, was built in 1884, one pastor had to visit all the incoming Swedish ships to lead services for the sailors. Tired of watching their minister hop from boat to boat, the seamen felt they should get a place of their own to worship. The church was founded, and has been at the heart of the Scandinavian community on Merseyside ever since.

Services are held in the simply decorated church on the first floor. Reached by a winding nondescript staircase, the room has a distinct maritime feel with white washed walls, blue pews and a single cross at the altar. It is an oasis of calm a world away from the bustle of the city centre.

But there is nothing quiet about the rest of the church building which buzzes with activity during the week. It is still an important focal point for Scandinavians and seafarers in Liverpool.

Coffee mornings, film clubs, language and cultural lessons are just a few examples of what the church now offers its community. Students and Scandinavians keen to stay close to their roots flock to it every week. Around 200 people regularly attend the church but it is in touch with more than 800 people across the country.

Pastor Kristian Lillo said: “I hope the church reminds the people of Liverpool of its past. This was such an important place for Scandinavia. Liverpool was the last port for Europe to the New World and thousands passed through here.

Inside the seamen's church
The altar in the seamen's church

“People now come to our church to be connected to their lives in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. We have students, seafarers and people from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. They have found a community here to be a part of.”

The church, which offers Lutheran and Evangelical services, now hopes it can expand and encourage more people to join.

“We want more people to find their way here,” said Mr Lillo, “ I do not feel we are big enough. We need to encourage more people to use the church. Everybody is welcome to come and learn about the culture and language. The more people we have, the more joyful it is to meet and share ideas.”

The Scandinavian Seamen’s Church on 138 Park Lane, Liverpool, holds services every Sunday at 11am. On Wednesdays there is also a coffee morning all day. Celebrations of Scandinavian festivals are held throughout the year. The church can be contacted on 0151 709 7763 or www.svenskakyrkan.se/skut/liverpool

last updated: 24/02/05
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