Tag Archives: Svalbard Church

SVALBARD CHURCH CELEBRATES 100 YEARS: From its first days during Longyearbyen’s deadliest mining accident to explosive changes now, church has shaped and been shaped by town’s spiritual highs and lows – inside the building and out


Exactly 100 years ago as of Saturday – on Aug 28, 1921 – Svalbard Church was consecrated after a mere 50 days of construction. A mere few months later the first ministerial act by its first priest was presiding over the burial when 27 men were killed in an explosion in the coal mine within several hundred meters of the new building.

AND SO IT BEGINS…AGAIN: Library ends ‘self-serve’ hours, Svalbardhallen closes pool, Fruene may halt serving due to two-meter distancing, Kroa shuts due to new COVID-19 crackdown


Lots of people are being vaccinated and lots of leaders are simply declaring the COVID-19 crisis over regardless of evidence. But on Thursday morning in Longyearbyen it felt a lot like the onset of the pandemic a year ago as lots of organizations and businesses announced closures, limited operations and warnings as a new set of nationwide preventative measures took effect.

A VERY SPECIAL COVID CHRISTMAS IN SVALBARD: Outdoor Mass w/ 10 residents reading/singing in their native languages and a Christmas Eve harkening back to old times set the spirit


While a chill has been put on many Christmas celebrations worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the world’s northernmost town Priest Siv Limstrand found warmth in venturing outside her closed church and inspiring her world of congregants to speak and sing in tongues.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Dec. 8, 2020


Relocated cemetery targeted for completion in 2022

The relocation of Longyearbyen’s cemetery, due to avalanche and landslide exposure in the current location, is proposed for completion in 2022 at a cost of three million kroner.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR EASTER WEEKEND (WED.-MON.): News/events added frequently and chronologically, so you can keep reading it without turning your brain into a fried egg


This story will be updated through the holiday (most recent update 4 p.m. Saturday), with major/breaking news reported in separate articles. Photo of Russian settlement residents chilling out with some ice fishing during an excursion last weekend by Timofey Rogozhin.

Much of Svalbard may be unusually quiet during Easter weekend due to the usual businesses closures and most unusual coronavirus restrictions, but those wanting a spiritually and physically inspiring experience still have plenty of options including free guided accompaniment on snowmobile trips between Longyearbyen and Pyramiden on Thursday and Friday.

The weather forecast generally calls for safe conditions, although strong winds and some snow is forecast Thursday afternoon and evening, and mostly clear skies on Friday will give way to increasing clouds through Monday. Temperatures will generally be in the range of minus 15 degrees Celsius.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Jan. 22, 2019


New ski slope, lift on Sukkertoppen expected to open soon after long delay
A 140-meter-long ski slope and tow lift near the center of Longyearbyen that has been seven years in the making is now under construction and expected to be completed within a few weeks.

Family of foreigners: Svalbard’s international residents share variety of Christmas experiences – with one common element


Julia Paulsen said Christmas isn’t a major holiday in Indonesia since most of the population is Muslim, with only about 10 percent who are Christians. So it’s a day for being with family, with maybe a song or some other moment recognizing the occasion.

When she moved from her homeland to Longyearbyen with her husband Didrik three years ago her first Christmas was considerably more festive.

MASS ADVENTURE: Leif Mage Helgesen leaves Earth-awakening experience as Svalbard Church’s priest, begins another with a pilgrimage throughout Asia


Whether it’s about surviving in combat zones, a polar bear attack, or an avalanche that killed a close friend and inflicted trauma on the community, during the past 12 years Leif Magne Helgesen mastered the spiritual skill of keeping cool.

And his singing rowdy songs with the local miners’ choir, cavorting through satirical stage skits, presiding over Masses in spectacular outdoor settings, and writing books about heated topics like climate change and the West Bank (not to mention some nude photos of him showing up in publications) are just some of the blessed ways he can warm up a crowd.

Saintly 60: Svalbard Church celebrating six decades of bringing the highest spirits to the world’s northernmost town


Tone Nødtvedt says Svalbard Church still looks pretty much the same as when it opened 60 years ago and became her childhood home because her father, Erling, was its first priest. It’s spirit is also largely the same, thanks to a main interior where the social gathering space was vastly expanded from the original plans – making it larger than the space for services – at her father’s insistence.

NEW CALLING: Svalbard Church Priest Leif Magne Helgesen departing after 12 years; leaving a storied legacy as community counselor, ambassador and controversial crusader


Svalbard Church Priest Leif Magne Helgesen, who during the past 12 years has been one of Svalbard’s most prominent persons for his many roles ranging from lighthearted entertainer to controversial global political activist, is departing in October to become an ambulant seaman’s minister in Asia.